Time Served At St. Louis School
During your academic career, did you encounter someone like Melissa?
If you have read any of my past hubs, you know a thing or two about my education. I attended a parochial school kindergarten through eighth grade. Before going to a four year Catholic college, I went to a public high school. At all three institutions, I, like everyone else, had both good and bad experiences. As the request is to pick only one of the schools, since I spent the most time there, I’ll write about my elementary school experience.
I remember going to visit kindergartens with my mother before I attended one. In particular, I remember visiting the one at my older brother’s elementary school. It was a big, bright room with lots of kids running around. The teacher let me sit and draw while she and my mother spoke. I guess it wasn’t an exact fit for me because I didn’t end up going there. Instead, I went to the school that my mother taught at.
For eight years, St. Louis School was my school. Having your mother a couple of floors away can either feel like a warm, comfortable blanket or torture. For the first few years, it was the former. I knew that from 7:30-2:15 she wasn’t my mother. However, if I was having a bad day, it was reassuring to see her at recess. Until fifth grade, my teachers and classmates didn’t make a big deal out of my mother being a teacher. Yet, all of that changed when I was ten.
Suddenly, if I did well, the teacher would criticize me. She took my mother’s request to not give me special treatment in a whole other direction. Not until my mother, as a mother and not as a teacher, spoke to her and told her that I was developing an ulcer (My doctor’s words, not mine.) did she lay off.
Sixth grade through eighth grade was absolute hell. It seemed like over night we went from learning multiplication to Algebra. Being told all of my life that Math wasn’t my strong point, I didn’t really try. I failed every test and tuned out every lesson. As a result, I scraped by with a D in nearly every Math class I took until freshman year of college. However, my life wasn’t hell because of Math.
In sixth grade, this melodramatic girl transferred into the school. A group of us took pity on her and became her friend. She would always say that she was going to commit suicide and one day she was so convincing that I mentioned it to my mother. My mother, ever in teacher mode, called the principal who called the girl’s mother. I believe the girl was sent into counseling, but I don’t know for sure. Her mother was not entirely mentally well and, if she hadn’t given Melissa the care she needed before then, why would she give it to her after this?
Seventh grade either brought along a pregnancy scare or a cry of rape. I can’t remember exactly. Melissa was a huge liar who would come into school every Monday displaying a new hickey. However, there was a rumor that circulated that she told one of the other girls that she gave it to herself with a vacuum cleaner. She told us once that she had this much older boyfriend and that they were sexually active. One day, she came to us crying and either told us that she was pregnant or had been raped. Remembering the disaster of the year before, I kept my mouth shut. One of us told though and she got into trouble. When she got back to school, she told me that she would get me back one day. Despite my telling her I didn’t do it, she didn’t believe me. Even after people told her it wasn’t me, she still didn’t believe it. She would get me back, she told all of them.
Eighth grade was quiet until February. Around this time, Melissa began to spread rumors about me. I was suicidal. I was using drugs. I was a devil worshipper. Etc. The rumors were so out there that no one believed them. She had to try harder.
I don’t know how it happened, but she got a very good friend of mine to join in. Jill, my best friend for years, gave me a letter one day containing some extremely baseless, hurtful accusations. Foolishly wanting to remain her friend, I wrote her a reply explaining away all of these accusations. She handed my letter over to Melissa who felt the need to reply in her place. In short, all three letters ended up in my mother’s hands and were read by the entire faculty. People who had known me since before I even went there were suddenly cold to me. No one, including my mother, wanted to look at me. Even now when I meet people who knew about “the scandal” they still look at me in that same way. If this was not bad enough, Melissa's mother spread a rumor to other parents that my mom said she was going to take out her anger on Melissa's younger half sister who my mom was teaching. Anything to get attention, right?
Why did this happen? I know why Melissa did it. She was angry that I had told my mother and that she couldn’t use that sob story anymore for attention. Still, why did Jill do it? As ridiculous as it may sound, I think she was jealous and wanted to bring me down. Until sixth grade, she had been known as the best singing voice in the school. In sixth grade, my mom pushed me out “into the spotlight” and I was suddenly asked to do any singing for the school. When it came time to do the school plays, I was given speaking parts and even the lead twice. She remained just scenery, no lines to her name. If writing and academic awards were given out, I never left empty handed. She did. I loved her like a sister and was too foolish to see that she couldn’t be as proud of me as I was of her.
Had my mother not taught at the school and if Melissa had stayed away, my school experience would’ve been very different. Yet, for the most part, I loved having my mother in the same building as me. She was one of those teachers that the kids loved to have and I was filled with pride when I’d overhear people talking about her. Despite the drama Melissa brought with her, had I not experienced all that she forced me to go through, I wouldn’t have seen the people in my life for what they really are. I would’ve left that school thinking I had left a great support system of people who loved me for who I am and not seen how false it really all was. At thirteen, I thought my world was ending. As cliche as it may sound, at twenty-four, I realize now that that is when life really began.