Let me begin by saying to the LCD editors, the writer takes full responsibility for this post and appreciates your providing the forum for it.
Second, I would like to thank DJB1971 for his Christmas wish, posted today in the blogs. While I rarely agree with he/she on political matters, he hit the nail with his post today. Probably the best Christmas wish I've ever heard, and the best post on here in years. My compliments.
Fifty years ago today, I was a second grade student at North Heights Elementary School in North Little Rock, Arkansas. My Christmas wish was about to come true and I could hardly wait.
The previous year, my first grade, was at Amboy Elementary, where my teacher, Mrs. Lassiter, was a grandmotherly figure who treated each and every student as if they were her own grand child. She and the Principal Mrs. Holland, new the name of every student in the school and loved us all. But we moved at the end of that year, and before entering my second grade, we were transferred to North Heights.
A little background is necessary here. I was raised by a mother and father who WORSHIPPED the ground I walked on. I was Mom's baby and my mind is filled of memories of the love she poured upon me and my siblings. She was extremely protective of us, as she and her sisters had a hard life growing up in the first depression. We were always first in her life. Mom was strict, but loving, giving and wise. When she sent us to school, we knew we were to obey the teachers just like we did her, and if we didn't we knew what it meant.
Now 50 years ago, at this time, we had just passed the "Cuban Missile Crisis" but at school they were still making us drill each week, going out to the hallway, lining up against the walls, putting our heads between our knees, and our arms around them. We all thought it was silly because even the first graders knew if the Russians nuked us, we were only doing the drill so we could kiss our own butts goodbye. Never-the-less, we were living in dangerous times, and were scared. The concern was on all the faces of our parents and their friends.
My second grade teacher, whose name was a misnomer which I will not reveal here, was pretty strict, especially in comparison to my first grade teacher at Amboy Elementary. The 60's were a different time, and posture was an extremely important lesson we were being taught. We even watched films on it, it was so important. Unfortunately, I was not a good student in the posture area. Only 7, I was probably the skinniest kid in class, and when I sat in those hard wooden desks the right side of my butt hurt. I didn't know why it hurt, but I figured out, when I put my left leg under the right, and sat on it, my butt did not hurt. It somehow relieved the pressure and I could sit comfortably. This was not to be, according to Mrs. T. Now she didn't just tell me to correct my sitting position, she decided I needed a little more persuasion.
One morning, as Mrs. T. walked about the room reading from one of our books, as we sat at our desks following along in our books, with our heads down. As she came up behind me, there sitting on my left leg, she took the straight pin she had brought with her, and jabbed me in the buttocks, at which point I jumped up, screamed in pain and was completely humiliated. She took a few minutes to explain to everyone in the class why she "had" to do that. The other students all laughed and teased me unmercifully that day. I cannot express the pain it caused in words. Unfortunately, several days later, she did the same thing, because I was sitting on my leg again, violating the rules of "good posture", which was not to be, according to Mrs. T.
When I got home I sure didn't want my Mom to know I was so bad in school, that the teacher had to stick me with pins so I would sit properly in my chair, so I kept quiet. That night when I went to bath, I noticed the small dark blood spot on my little tighty-whities, and realized I would be discovered if Mom saw them. My fear deepened, so I hid the underwear, and took another out of the drawer to place in the dirty clothes. Mom did her laundry every day, so if she came up short a pair of tighty-whities, she was gonna ask questions. I hid the bloodied whities under the bottom drawer but realized, if I continued doing this, I was going to run out of fresh ones and Mom would figure it out. So I began wearing the same pair every day, and putting a pair of clean ones in the dirty clothes. I just couldn't tell Mom how bad I was by sitting on my leg in violation of the posture rules. I did this for the months of September, October, November and December. It was a ritual I repeated over, and over. But my agony was becoming obvious to Mom. She knew for a kid who LOVED the first grade, I wasn't very happy in the second. She questioned me often about it. I tried to say I hadn't made friends yet, I didn't really like the play ground there, etc. Every lie I could think of was used to cover up my horrible sin for which Mrs. T. would stick a pin in me about once a week to correct. In fact, she did it so often, just like a professional child abuser, she decided she needed to put the guilt off on someone else. So after about the 10th time I had been stuck in the rear and screamed out, she stopped and gave a pin to my friend Charlie, who sat directly behind me. She told Charlie, if he didn't stick me with a the pin when I sat on my leg, she would stick him. By this time, several other students in the class had already crossed her the wrong way and gotten the same treatment or worse, in her little back room. It got so bad, no one ever laughed again when I or someone else screamed out in pain. We all knew, the woman was evil. Charlie never once stuck me, but he did have to elbow me a few times to get me off the leg.
Hating school as I did at that time, and hating Mrs. T, had become obvious to Mom. About the 4th week of school, she gave me a note to give to Mrs. T. The note said she was worried about my unhappiness in the school, and she was going to come up to the school and talk with Mrs. T. about the problem. I did not read it until I was walking into school, and nearly fainted when I did. It was probably the first anxiety attack I had, because I not only feared being found out, I feared just giving the note to Mrs. T. When I did give it to her, she immediately grabbed me by the arm and took me to her little back store room. She threatened me with worse if I said anything about the pins. She told me she would fail me and I would have to take the second grade again, and my Mother would hate me forever for it. She told me to keep my mouth shut, or I would pay "the price". I couldn't imagine what "the price" was. I was living in total fear of this woman.
Sure enough, Mom came up at lunch time, and came to meet me and Mrs. T. on the school grounds. They walked around while Mom questioned Mrs. T about why I was so unhappy. I followed behind them as they walked, fearing Mrs. T would reveal what a horrible student I was because I sat on my leg all the time and she had to correct me so often. I might have to pay "the price" what ever that was. Several times when questions were pointed to me, I would look at Mrs. T and see her giving the evil eye. I just lied the best I could about my unhappiness there, but I did not give Mrs. T. up. I was living in what I thought was fear for my life. I was only 7 years old. All I knew is I was being so bad the teacher had to stick me with pins, and when Mom found out there is no telling how she would punish me.
Mom came up a second time around late November to talk to Mrs. T. and again we walked around the school. Mrs. T. kept that evil eye on me out of Mom's sight, and some how I made it through a second time. Mom was getting ready to leave when it happened. As she was leaving, she said, "Well, when Pike View opens in mid-semester the boys are going to have to move there and maybe Phillip will like it better there". I could not believe my ears. I asked her to repeat it and she said we would be moved to Pike View Elementary after Christmas because we lived in the area it would be serving. Finally, an end to my torture.
It became my only Christmas wish to get to that school. I cannot describe the joy I felt when I left North Heights Elementary for the last day of the semester. I was overjoyed, but I was also damaged. At Pike View, once again, I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. English, a nice principal, Mrs. Grimm and school was once again like the first grade. I didn't have to be stuck with pins ever again. But as I said, the damage was done. Damage I could not see, but damage which would haunt my life from that day forward. My ability to trust was severely damaged, but my ability to judge people was keenly improved.
When I was about 30, I sought some counseling, but was moving with my job to another state and did not complete the counseling I should have. I never have completed counseling, except for some I have received from very intimate people in my life. I stayed pretty much a loner, and did not let people get too close to me. I had a comfort zone, and I had to stay there to prevent anxiety attacks. A few years later, I admitted to my Mother what the problem had been while I was at North Heights Elementary. She was incensed, but at least I knew she was too old to find Mrs. T and beat her to death, and I made her promise not to pursue any recourse. I have no intention of seeking recourse either. All I have ever wanted was to get this off my soul, my heart, my life.
I was 45 years old before an MRI scan revealed I have a congenital defect in my right hip bone, which causes my discomfort there.
Several of my close friends have suggested I blog about this event in my life, as it might be cathartic to do so. I'll just have to wait and see about that. I have a very good Doctor (not in Conway) who treats my anxiety attacks and who is working with me to try and get further counseling. He is a fantastic physician and I appreciate him, more than he will ever know.
I also appreciate DJB1971 for his Christmas Wish, posted today in the blogs. It was so moving I wept uncontrollably and knew it was time. My best wishes to you DJB1971. I know that you as a parent had a reason to make your post, but I'm sure you never expected this as a response to your Christmas Wish. I got mine back in 1962. I dearly hope and pray you get yours this, and every year.