I hated school. They tricked me into staying that first day of first grade. In fact I had hated kindergarten as well. I cried so hard the teacher was forced to call my sister out of classes (she was in 5th or 6th grade), and send me to spend the day by her side. (This was in the days when you rode the bus and stayed put until the bus could get you back home, and no telephones in every home to notify anxious parents.) I liked being in her classes where the older kids kept offering me things to look at in order to keep me quiet.
After the second day of kindergarten, and the second time she was made to babysit me through her classes throughout her school day, my sister pitched her own fit. From then on I was allowed to stay home to play in my playhouse in the storage shed since kindergarten was optional.
We moved before my family would try again to establish me in higher education. New home, new school system, new everything. On the first day of school, in kindergarten/first grade homeroom with Miss Myrtice, I pitched another fit. I was well into it until two older girls (who I now realize must have been all of 11) named Yvonne and Marcelle, asked me to copy numbers on the blackboard. I did, to my detriment.
My 9 looked like a 6 upside down and turned backwards, while theirs looked like sticks with little bags at the tip. I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it, but they told me how pretty my 9 looked, how diferent and unique. And I fell for it, taking in their praise while my mother slipped out of the room and, for all I knew, out of my six-year-old life.
My father had gone to this same country school, and several of his eight siblings had also had Miss Myrtice as their first teacher. Her reputation was well known to me, and it wasn’t many weeks before I was to feel the first sting of her ruler coming down hard on my backs of my hands. Another of her tactics was hair pulling. If you misbehaved or didn’t cooperate in classes, she would reach over and yank the hair on top of your head until you either straightened up or started to cry. (In retrospect, I think it’s probably a very good thing that she never married and had children of her own.)
My grandson just started his first year of kindergarten. I think he’s liking it, but he’s awfully secretive about what he’s learning. I know he can read because he blurts out something when we watch television together that he wouldn’t know if he wasn’t reading the words. His kindergarten was a reasonably smooth transition because it’s another area of the nursery school he’s attended for a long while.
But he shared with his mommy recently that he’s a little scared of going to the school at the bottom or our hill that he can eventually walk to, and Grampa and Gramma could meet him afterwards and walk back home with him. I wish I could tell him that it’s going to be fine, as I’m sure it’s going to be. At least I feel confident he won’t have a Miss Myrtice with a stinging ruler, or an errant hand to pull hair when she’s upset. They don’t allow that anymore, do they?
I can’t say that I liked school all that much throughout my grammar school years. But I did enjoy and excel in certain classes so I never pitched anymore fits about school attendance after the first grade. Now, Hubby and I go to Osher, the lifelong learning program at UofU, that doesn’t require exams and little to no homework, and now that Miss Myrtice is long dead and can’t run over with her ruler, I don’t hate school anymore.