When I was a kid, it felt like I was in trouble non-stop; I was always doing something bad. And it wasn’t just in school, although that’s where my talent for being trouble tended to really shine. I remember getting in trouble for the following things:
- playing with fire
- shooting my sister with a sucker arrow (but anyone who knows my sister knows she probably deserved it)
- stabbing my sister
innear the eye with an ink pen (in retrospect, I’m sure no one deserves that)
- getting in trouble at school (you know that’s a twofer)
Then there was that year we got up on Christmas morning and opened all of our presents, which was so very fun and exciting. Then we ran upstairs to thank Mom and Dad, who were still sleeping in bed, for all the cool stuff. I think it was probably my mom who flipped out about that one, but boy did we get in trouble for that! They took all our new stuff away, and we got grounded to boot.
But what about school, you ask? I indicated earlier that I got in trouble at school a lot. I got in trouble for talking, for swearing, for losing fights that I didn’t start, for refusing to eat at the lunch table, for refusing to cooperate with the teacher, and later on it was for skipping, for being late to classes, and for acts of petty theft. I was in trouble each and every week, and sometimes almost every day, before I got to junior high school. I was suspended thirty-six times in six years. Teachers heard horror stories about me in advance of my coming.
My fourth grade teacher was worse than anyone, though; he was physically abusive. He often got rough with me when I cut up. There were times he carried me out into the hall and slammed me up against the lockers. Sometimes he just shook me like a rag doll while berating me for this or that. At some point he came up with the wonderful idea of secluding me from the rest of the class in the teacher’s work room – he called it my “cubbyhole”, and I sometimes spent entire weeks in there, working on my lessons and causing what little mischief I could out of spite. I tried to figure out the weird copier with its huge, hot roller and smeary purple ink. I made copies of the teacher edition of my homework when I needed a little leg-up. In retrospect, I imagine that’s what it’s like being a prisoner. Mrs. Edsall, the fifth grade teacher, watched all of this happen and tried to reassure me that she would take care of me the following year; I think she just wanted to make sure I would keep hanging on, because nobody else in my class was treated anywhere near as poorly, and now I think my bad reputation was partly to blame, as well as my inability to follow the rules.
At any rate, that broke me. Defiance? Check. No respect for authority? Check. I was like that for a long time: nothing but trouble.
Then one day I woke up and said, “where the hell have I been?”
this post was inspired by the daily prompt at The One-Minute Writer