Yesterday at work we were talking about “traumatic” school events in our lives. I had pretty good experiences my first two years of my educational career. Pre-school and kindergarten were good years to me. Or at least I don’t remember anything traumatic. The few things I do remember are funny or run of the mill memories.
But then, then the first day of first grade. A day I will not soon forget. Obviously because I can still recall it. Though I wonder, and am pretty sure, my memory has altered some of the fine points of it.
Our school had doors on some of the lower floor classes that opened right on to the parking lot. I had to of been little. I mean, it was first grade. I walked in the door. I remember it being not real bright outside. That dawn is breaking but not quite broken time of morning. It might of been a rainy day, it just sits that way in my memory anyway. I walk in and the bright lights were a big contrast to the greyness outside. The teacher, a nun, stopped talking to the class and got my name. Then. She. Yelled. At. Me.
In my head I picture a screaming maniac in front of the chalkboard, standing by the side of her desk. Her vocal assault was hideous. My little self was shaking in terror and humiliation.
My crimes to that point had been to walk in to my classroom with all of the anxiety and anticipation of any first grader.
Apparently I was there on the wrong day. I was told to go home and tell my mother to send me back on the right day.
I still don’t understand how it was the wrong day. It was school!!!! The other kids were there. Of course I don’t know who those kids were. My trauma was so deep I could not have focused on a face or anything outside of the monster demanding my fear and attention.
I walked down the street, because I couldn’t cross it. I wasn’t allowed. All of the crossing guards were already gone. I leaned against the orange pole that marked the bus stop at the time. I just leaned against it and stared at my grandparents house, crying. So close! My home was on the other side of my grandparents home. Our houses were back to back so to speak because we lived on parallel streets and our backyards ran in to one another. It was so great that we could walk from our house, through our grandparents yard and nearly right on to school and church property.
But that day I might as well have been in a foreign country. Prior to that I don’t ever remember having been alone! Let alone left alone on a busy street with no way to cross it!!!!!
My life had been surrounded by parents and a multitude of siblings.
Now, I stood alone.
Sad. Terrorized. Crying. In my little Catholic uniform.
Do you feel that fear????
I know. Horrible.
Then out of the greyness of the morning, there, across the way (street) comes a familiar and welcome site. A vision of heroism!
My older brother.
I don’t know if he had come looking for me, or was just there by chance.
But he saved my life that day. Trauma yes, but tragedy diverted.
WHAT would have happened (I often wondered) if a city bus had stopped and me not knowing what to do had gotten on the bus. And I had been carried away? Forever riding the streets not knowing how to get off of the bus. Or where it was taking me.
I wonder if that nun ever revisits the horror she inflicted on me that day. And likely on hundreds, nee thousands of innocent children.
But I got my revenge! That’s right. I graduated from that grade school and even furthered my career by going to high school. And then…..college.
I triumphed. I over came.
But I have not forgotten!