I watched my mother turn the page of the calendar. September, a picture of a golden sunset shimmering on a highland lake. That picture and September spoke of things I wished not to know.
She said “The weeks – they’ve gone so fast!” Fussing over clothes for school, debating how much I would grow, and if my skirts were long enough to last the winter. She dragged me to shops, the boring ones, not for excitement of toys, but to buy a perfect pair of sensible brown shoes. Boring ridiculous shoes, to be worn at a ridiculous place. Because September always spelled – SCHOOL. Too close for comfort and never far enough away. Pressing in like an elephant sitting on my head, crushing my thoughts, reminding me the hot summer had finally melted, like watching ice cream drip, and never getting to taste how good it was. My short days of freedom were almost over.
The first day of term would always be the same, walking through gates, long faces, clones in matching uniforms. Grumpy grey, navy numb, charcoal and mud coloured shoes spoiling pretty young feet. Laughter forgotten, fun stored away for long awaited opportunities, and the warmth of sun luminous on our heads as though holidays were not yet over. How horribly deprived we felt, how torn we were, like chicks fallen from the nest.
Each new term, a fresh class, a new teacher. Everything that had been, no longer was. Strange, alien, vulnerable. The beginning of another year in a place I wished not to be. Windows were magnets, I’d lose so much time staring through many, my eyes drawn to outdoors, the trees, birds, and each fluffy cloud that drifted by had more meaning than the monotony of the classroom. I’d try to find the tiniest evidence of happiness, because hours at a desk was never going to be happy.
A voice interrupted, the stern face of my teacher glared, eyes like fire, speech like rusting metal. “Get on with your work! There’s nothing to see out there!”
Ah, but there was! The world with all it’s interesting things. A place with meaning – the flowers, the wind, the smell of cut grass, tree houses in the woods, picnics, days at the beach, the picking of berries and the refined art of making of jam. My loving home, my peace, my quite, my own private space. Obediently, I lowered my head, stared at my book, blinded by numbers – 6 x 9 – 7 x 8 – 4 x 12 …. none of it made sense at all.
While I stared at blank paper where my maths should have been, I learnt to imagine everything that was not of numbers, and wished the daily grind of the classroom clean away.
Before I noticed, September had become like any other month. Lost it’s strength in imparting dread, and those days moved so far away.
September has changed. Freedom was given. And I learned that nothing lasts forever.
Although everything in this story is true, it was actually the picture that originally inspired the idea. It reminded me of myself at a time when I was most unhappy at my primary school, and how those long school summer holidays were so beautiful, so welcome. But even after all those weeks off, it was never long enough.
I had a dreadful teacher at the time, I referred to her as ‘the witch‘ because to me she might as well have been. I was constantly picked on by her and she even had the evil cheek to encourage the rest of the class to copy her in humiliating me. I wasn’t the only one, she targeted a few others too – all the quiet ones – easy pickings.
I still feel to this day, she should have been dismissed, her behaviour was totally unprofessional. And it’s amazing how one person can do so much damage to a young mind with their voice. She succeeded in destroying my confidence for many years, but I’m happy to say, not forever. And who knows, maybe I should thank her for assisting in making me a stronger person today and for teaching me one very important life lesson – don’t ever tolerate a bully, no matter who they are.
School always felt very unnatural to me, even my first day at school left me feeling I was in the wrong place. I don’t absorb information very well in a classroom, I’m much better learning quietly in my own company, at my own pace. I did eventually leave school at the age of thirteen, I just refused to go, caused a lot of problems, but it all came right in the end.
I was lucky to have a family who did their best to understand and support me, and I was home schooled for the remaining years – it was a huge relief! There couldn’t have been anyone more grateful than me to finally reach age sixteen, it was so good to just forget about the pressure of eduction for a while. It’s not my opinion that schools are wrong, I just don’t think they are the right place for everyone, we are all wonderful individuals, not clones.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who hated school, or maybe you loved school? Whatever your experience was, please share your stories if you feel inspired to! 🙂