18.7.06

I still hate my second grade teacher.

After I was deemed too disruptive to attend second grade in a public school, I got sent to a small, private school for kids who just couldn't attend public school for various reasons. Some kids couldn't attend public school because they had seizures all the time. Three kids in my class had been hit by cars, and it had messed them up enough that they couldn't function like normal kids. Many of the students, myself included, were there just because we didn't feel the need to do what authority figures told us to do. My parents were repeatedly told that they should drug me into submission, and I'm grateful they never did, though it may have kept me in public school.

The school had one gym teacher, Mr. Lombard, who was the husband of the vice principal, herself the daughter of the principal. He was a mean, gruff guy with a big, blotchy, blue tattoo on his forearm. Nobody was ever able to figure out what it was. He used to walk into my class, stand next to a student's desk with his chest puffed out, and then punch them in the face. I would sit, terrified that he was going to come punch me next. Only later did I figure out he wasn't actually hitting them, and was making the smacking sound by thumping his chest with his free hand while swinging his fist at them. The thing that made it really scary was the fact that there was no element of humor to it. He would make a mean face, and the students he was pretending to punch never smiled or laughed, they just sat there quivering in fear.

Ms. Amador, my teacher, seemed like a nice enough lady, but liked to deal out completely ridiculous punishments. One time she made myself and another student put our heads down on the desk the entire day. When it was time for lunch, we were allowed to eat, and then had to put our heads back down. My desk kept becoming incredibly wet from the condensation of my breath, but there wasn't much I could do about it.

"Oh, gross," she said one day, holding up a piece of construction paper, "Look at this nasty green color!"

"Snot green," I said.

"That's inappropriate for class!" she said, and made me write a couple pages of the same sentence over and over, which was one of her favorite punishments. The green construction paper incident really stands out, because the only thing I can think of that would make somebody think a certain green is gross is the fact that snot is also green. I was agreeing with her, and I was punished for it. I think bodily functions offended her greatly, as she had once yelled at me for breathing too loud, and another time for going to the bathroom too many times. That day, my mom was picking me up after school for some reason, so she waited with me and then informed my mom that I had been using the restroom too much. Luckily, my mom wasn't crazy like her, so she felt sorry for me instead of angry with me.

"Aww," she said, "Did your stomach hurt?"

My mom once sent me to school with a lunch that consisted of an egg salad sandwich, a thermos of juice, and some little snacks. Having been made fun of twice in first grade for eating eggs, I left the sandwich in my lunch box and only took out the other items. Ms. Amador picked up my lunch box, pulled out my sandwich, and put it in front of me. She told me I had to eat it, even if I didn't want to, so I started crying and put my head down. She pulled my chair away from the table, and I kept my face hidden with my arms. She took a photograph of me in this position.

One day, coming in from recess, my friend dropped a can of soda in the lobby. It exploded in a spray of cola-flavored mist.

"Holy cow!" I yelped. Ms. Amador smacked me in the face with a rolled up magazine. I remember being completely shocked by the force of her blow, which made my eyes tear up from the impact to my nose.

Another time, I was punished for something by being stuck in a closet that had been converted to a 'time out room.' It was completely empty except for a place to sit. I waited all day for her to come get me out, and when I heard everybody leaving, I was sure she was going to release me. I should have just walked out, but I was scared I would have gotten in more trouble. Ms. Amador remembered me after everyone had left and all the buses were gone. She put me in a taxi and sent me home. When the taxi pulled up in front of my house, my parents were getting in their car, about to come looking for me. Ms. Amador hadn't called them to tell them why I wasn't on the bus.

I finished second grade, but third grade at that school turned out to be too much for me to handle. I think I only lasted a couple weeks.

On my last day of school, my third grade teacher was, for some reason, encouraging the entire class to make fun of me. Humiliated and helpless, I did the one thing I knew would get me out of there: I acted the fool. There had been a girl who was in my second grade class for a couple weeks, but was removed from school because she kept swearing at teachers and throwing stuff, so I started swearing and throwing stuff. The teacher emptied the class, leaving me alone, and I hid in the closet until my mom came.

When my mom came in for a final meeting about what was to be done with me, I came with her and sat outside of the office on a bench. At some point the vice principal walked by.

"You're a nasty, nasty boy," she told me.

I recently Googled that place, and as far as I can tell, it no longer exists. I'm really happy about that, because it really sucked.

2 comments:

psycho-therapist said...

aww...paulo,
i still hate my second grade teacher, too. her name was mrs. shaw and she was one nasty character straight out of a roald dahl book. she used to hit me with a ruler on my knuckles and palms for trying to write with my dominant hand (left) which i no longer write with thanks to her. but i do everything else lefty. and she loved to make me stand in the hall all day with my nose up against the walls. i had to stay in that position and she'd sneak out of the classroom to make sure i was maintaining it. i peed my pants more than once that year because she wouldn't let me go to the bathroom.
WHY do these miserable people become teachers? all i can figure is that they're like prison guards and love to inflict pain on those who can't fight back. (sigh)

paulo said...

Wow, that's pretty awful.

I've had a few teachers who really seemed to loathe kids. I always wondered if they started off really enjoying what they did and then ended up disillusioned and angry, or if they started out miserable and just went with it because of the job security and summer vacations. I've had some who were like prison guards, drunk on power and behaving like overgrown schoolyard bullies and jocks. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them got into teaching for exactly the reason you've described.