“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I don't get it.

I went to a Lutheran school from the 3rd grad to the 9th. I didn't like most of my time there. I desperately wanted to fit in, but no matter what, I just couldn't swing it. Most of the time I felt like I was the weird one, the one that didn't have many friends, the icky one, the one that got picked on. I think that some of it may have been my own insecurities, but I also think that some people there played on those insecurities - including some of the teachers. I admit, I was odd. I had a weird sense of humor that nobody understood (still do, but I like it now), I didn't dress super girly, I wasn't popular.
There were 2, possibly 3 teachers that singled me out as the student they didn't like. One teacher, Mrs. C. made me crawl on my hands and knees up and down the aisles of our classroom picking up little pieces of trash that only the vacuum would get. When I finished she asked me if I learned my lesson. I told her I didn't know what I had done. She smacked me in the face and told me not to be a smart-ass. To this day I still don't know what I did. (One night, a few years ago I told my dad that story. He said "I better not run into her at Home Depot." I asked him why Home Depot, and he said "Because I go to Home Depot a lot and if I'm going to run into anybody it's going to be there." Gotta love my dad)
There was another teacher, Mrs. F. She seemed to have a special dislike for me. A few girls wrote something mean on the bathroom wall about Mrs. F. Mrs. F. accused me of it. Not only did I know what was written on the wall, I didn't even know that something had been written on the wall, or even what wall. All through PE class she kept asking me if I did it. She kept asking in me in front of other students. I found out what was written, I found out who did it. I told the three girls who did it that I got accused of doing it. They apologized to me. I thought that Mrs. F. should have apologized. I asked her to. She said that she wasn't going to because she probably wasn't far off from thinking that I'd do such a thing. I saw her about 4 years later. I brought it up to her again. She told me again she wasn't going to apologize and then she told me to stop holding grudges. OK, maybe I should let this go, you can't push a string, but if you ever read this, Mrs. F., please know that a teacher shapes a kid's opinion of her/himself more than you probably realize. It's not just the good teachers we remember, but also the ones that hurt us. Her husband was a teacher at the school, too. I never thought he gave me a fair shake, but he didn't do anything directly to me that made me feel bad.
There were other bits and pieces from those two teachers and a few others. Some of the kids' parents had a few choice words about me. I know I was the weird kid, but I was never malicious. I was never overtly bad. I was just the kid nobody understood, so rather than just recognizing that, teachers and parents reacted in such a way that made a little girl feel awful.
I had one teacher that I really liked. Mr. S. He was the type of teacher that everyone should have at least once in their school careers. He was funny, smart, dorky and nice. He let us laugh and he was strict all at the same time. He is THE best teacher I've ever had. He didn't make me feel stupid. He didn't make me feel weird for my off-beat humor. He didn't make me feel weird because I was interested in things that nobody else in my class was interested in. Thanks Mr. S.

OK, I write all this because I've recently become obsessed with the school. On Facebook I joined two separate groups for the school. I've reconnected with some of the people I was friends with, became 'facebook friends' with a few people that I thought were super-cool but never thought they'd give me the time of day when we were younger. I check the school board for updates on old friends and people I used to know.

Why do I do this? Why do I care? I guess I always had this weird longing to fit in. I have this weird feeling that I have to justify myself to everyone who thought I wouldn't amount to anything. To prove them wrong, I guess. So I don't have my PhD, I don't make tons of money, but by many people's standards, including my own, I've done pretty well for myself. I'm a college graduate, I've been married for almost 12 years to the love of my life, I have two kids who are sweet and kind, I work, I live in a house. I don't have everything I want, but I have everything I need.

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