Humiliation at age 9
At age nine I was a tomboy who was quickly maturing prematurely. I was in fourth grade and was already growing taller than most of my classmates. I was a cut-up and constantly being reprimanded for my outbursts. I’m sure if I were a child now I would be diagnosed as hyperactive.
My teacher that year was a most horrid woman. She was a very strict teacher, quite impatient and I was obviously not one of her favorites. Parents should never have entrusted her with their children.
One of my favorite classroom activities was Baseball math. We would set up bases in the corners of the classroom and the person at bat would combat each base person to see who was fastest at math flashcards. If you won, you took another base, until you were counted out or went around the bases for a home run.
Our teacher, Mrs. Clay, was called away during one of these games when we were competing against the class next door. There were about 50 kids crammed into one of the homerooms. The game was getting intense and the kids not at bat were tired of being crammed together. I was up to bat and doing pretty well for myself as I recall. I finally came up against someone and they were faster than I was. I made some kind of scene about being so disappointed about being out and one of my classmates, Kathy E., told me to sit down as if she were in charge. Being a kid, I stuck my tongue out at her.
Miss Tattletale, Kathy E., immediately told the other classes’ teacher that I had made a face at her, the teacher. The teacher asked me to wait in the hall. I tried to tell the teacher that I did not make a face at her but at Kathy but she wouldn’t listen to me.
I waited in the hall fuming at Kathy and the teacher and knowing Mrs. Clay was going to be mad at me. Little did I know but I think Mrs. Clay had just had a battle in the Principal’s office became she came storming back to the classroom. She asked me what I was doing in the hall and not waiting for an answer went in to speak to the other teacher. They spoke for a quiet moment and Mrs. Clay picked up her paddle and came back to the hallway where she had me bend down and gave me 3 pretty nasty whacks on the behind.
I was humiliated beyond comprehension. I was determined not to cry but the tears spilled anyhow because the paddle whacks had really stung. She sent me immediately back into the room where every eye in the room was trained on me. I looked at Kathy E. and she had a satisfied smirk on her face. I don’t believe I have ever hated anyone as much in my life.
I sat down gently and most of the rest of that day is blank in my mind. I do remember thinking that I had been unjustly accused. I felt that I had been handed a horrible injustice. I had not made faces at that teacher. Mrs. Clay had not even let me explain.
I couldn’t wait to get home that day but when I did I got quite a surprise. My mother knew all about the incident from the school calling her and she spanked me upon arriving home. I was not to disrupt the classroom for any reason. She didn’t listen to what I had to say either and she told me she didn’t care what happened. She just wanted me to know that I was to behave and mind my elders. No one cared that I had been falsely accused, not even my own mother. My butt was pretty sore for quite a while.
The next day at school, I accosted Kathy E. in the restroom. I told her she had lied to the teacher and I had gotten a paddling for sticking my tongue out at her. She immediately went and told Mrs. Clay that I had threatened her. Mrs. Clay warned me that if I didn’t want a repeat to watch my mouth.
When I grew up and had children of my own, I made up my mind not to listen to tattletalers. When a kid came to me to tell on someone, I always replied, “and you are tattletaleing. Which is worse?” I never told them why I hated tattletalers because I am still ashamed.
What I learned from this incident in my life was that life is not fair and sometimes you just get dealt a bad hand. I don’t hate many people in the world, but still, to this day, I hate Mrs. Clay for not listening to me. I have even considered trying to look her up just to tell her how this incident affected the rest of my life.
I resent Kathy E. but she was just a child. I know that as an adult, if I am falsely accused, I have my day in court. But I think about all of the people who are punished unjustly because of such false accusations by children. (Remember the Salem Witch Trials?)
The humiliation and degradation that I felt in front of my classmates will never be erased. I never felt part of that group of children. And I blame this incident for most of my feelings of being different. I think this incident is the reason I don’t want to go to high school reunions. All those people were there when this happened.
I still have a picture of Mrs. Clay in my desk at home. I keep it there so that I can remember that life is not fair.
Another example of unfairness. This is one of my favorite places in the world. The Three Sisters live in Sugarcreek Forest Preserve (Metro Park) in Bellbrook, Ohio. I have learned since my last visit that one of the sisters has died. So very sad.