I faked an illness just to get my tonsils out
I was so anxious I did whatever it took to get out of school
(Angry Boys Part 2)
Mowgli almost ruined me
When I was 12 I got teased for watching the non-cartoon version of The Jungle Book in cinema (GREAT film, by the way). Two girls from my class saw me in the cinema on a Saturday night and on Monday morning when I arrived at school they instantly began making fun of me for seeing a Disney movie.
In what was perhaps my most extreme reaction to teasing, I decided that I was going to skip school for the next five years… but sadly, I could only manage to convince my parents I was ill for a couple weeks… but I did manage to lie my way into getting my tonsils removed! Imagine going through all that length just to avoid a bit of teasing from a couple of people? Yeah, I hated school.
Steve Urkel and me
Do you remember Steve Urkel? He was the suspender-wearing, high-waist-jeans-hiking, thick-glassed “nerdy” neighbour from the TV show Family Matters. Whenever he would break something or do something wrong he always said the phrase “Did I do that?” in a high-pitched, nasal sort of voice. If you watched the show, you can probably hear it echoing in your ear right now!
What about you?
It’s easy to look back at your childhood, look at your own students/children through the lens of what you now know and who you are today. If you’re anything like me, you look back at how you were treated, how you treated others, or how you spoke to people… and you cringe. You know, that kind of sinking gut feeling that makes you feel horrible and say “DID I REALLY SAY/RESPOND LIKE THAT?!?!”
Did I really call a person that name?
Did I really tell that person they were _______?
Did I really treat them that way?
Did I really act like that?
Did I really respond that way?
Perhaps I’m the only person who thinks this way, but the odds are that – because you are human – you do too. The important thing to remember here is that if you feel ashamed, shame is not your friend!
Forgive yourself, ask for forgiveness and move on.
The flip side
Conversely, you can probably think hurtful things people told you – even the small comments or passive criticisms or name-calling. I can now look back at these things and laugh, but in writing this blog I’ve been reminded of how I responded to criticisms or teasing or comments intended to make me feel like less.
Back to Mowgli-
When the girls teased me, I felt physically ill. I remember thinking to myself how their teasing was going to ruin me; it was going to stick with me forever and I would never recover… and although it was something as small as being teased for watching what they said was a “kids movie”, I remember thinking “I just want to hide and go home”
And so I did. I just had to find a good enough excuse.
I racked my brain for an illness I could give myself and settled on having a sore throat. I’d had strep throat a few months earlier and this seemed like a good way to get out of school because hey, nobody wants strep throat! In fact, I faked so well I went into surgery a few weeks later! Maybe I should revive that acting career?
After surgery I stayed home a long as possible – a couple weeks, I believe – and eventually returned to school. But something happened while I was away. I gained more confidence and I saw things with greater clarity. I remembered thinking The Jungle Book was a great film and that I should be proud to have parents who take me to see cool movies. Also, the girls were making fun of me for going to the movie, but they themselves were at the very same movie! How did I not realise that before?!?
When I went back to school, I went back confident in my own interests and happy to have such a great family. I could even see the whole matter with a bit more clarity.
It’s amazing how the truth of a matter and a sense of feeling “free” is often just one healthy thought away.
So what about education and parenting?