Time to Leave the Bad Girl Behind

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 6th Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Sometimes traumatic experiences from our early school days and haunt us for years to come. This is another story from my book, "Picking Up The Pieces: A Woman's Journey

Afraid of my teacher

For a first grade teacher, I found Mrs. Appelaize to be very mean. My first year at school was not an easy one. On the other hand, my best friend, Renate was so lucky to have her teacher. Renate would come home every day with such glowing stories about how wonderful her teacher was. I never spoke about my teacher, for she scared me to death.

Mrs. Appelaize seemed to be as old as the hills and then some. She was a well-respected teacher in the school, probably due to her tenure, but all the students feared her. To add salt to the wound, Renate always told me how glad she was that she never had Mrs. Appelaize.

Mrs. Appelaize ruled her classroom with an iron fist and a very stern voice.
When she spoke I just wanted to cringe in my seat. I am not sure if she even liked children at all. She never seemed to smile or act affectionate towards them. She was always aloof.

The fire drill

One day there was a fire drill in the school, and though the class was well prepared for fire drill, I panicked. I didn't follow the line outside to the schoolyard. Instead I hid in the cloakroom, hoping that they would forget about me.

Come to think about it, I did not even have a plan on how to sneak out of the cloakroom and back into the classroom once the class came back. I just felt if this were a real fire then, oh well, I would die. It was better than going outside with all those strange kids that used to make fun of me.

To my surprise, the principal came by to check all the classrooms and make sure everyone was out safely. Of course he found me and asked me what I was doing there. I told him I was hiding because I was afraid. The principal told me what I had done was very dangerous and that I should never do it again. He took me by the hand and marched me up to Mrs. Appelaize and asked her how she could let this happen. She spoke directly to him, never once looking at me and explained quite matter-of-factly, that she did not know. She was very adamant about mentioning the fact that I knew the drill just like all the other children and there was no reason for her to think otherwise when her job was to usher 33 children out of the classroom and off to safety. She never said a word to me, which surprised me, but she said she was sending a note to my grandmother to let her know what had transpired that day.

The next fire drill she had her hawk eyes on me and said,

"You're coming with me young lady."

That was my punishment for the rest of the year.

The cloakroom

For most kids, the cloakroom was not a refuge like it had been for me rather, it was a place of humiliation. Every morning the girls and boys were taken into the cloakroom separately and inspected for cleanliness. I was always clean so it never was an issue for me. But for many of the girls and boys it was embarrassing and uncomfortable when it was their turn for inspection.

Mrs. Appelaize would look at our hands, behind our ears, our arms, and if we had stockings on we were told to pull them down so she could inspect the condition of our legs.

If we were found dirty, which was not uncommon in this ghetto school, she would reprimand us, ridicule us, and say how disgusting it was to come to school like that. She would send a note home to the parents. Good hygiene was important for our health and well-being.

Though I escaped her wrath on those occasions, in the cloakroom, I felt it full force on other occasions in the classroom. That first grade experience haunted me throughout my formative years. I was terrified of that teacher and the things she said to me.

Learning to read and write

Mrs. Appelaize would write on the board and we had to copy the assignment. If we were studying the letter A, she would write things like "I ate a red apple." If we were practicing the letter B, then it would be something like "Big boys play ball." We had to copy it correctly and make sure that we stayed within the lines, or she would be furious and make us do it over again.

One particular time I remember that I was not having a good day. I was not able to keep within the lines and I actually scribbled in the spaces in all my A's. When she saw my work, she was infuriated with me. She asked me why I had done that and I told her I didn't know-I just did. She said that this was totally unacceptable and that I was a bad girl. She was not about to tolerate this bad behaviour in her classroom.

I was a bad girl

Since the girls were never strapped, I knew she wasn't going to hit me, but if it had been a boy, he would have been sent to the principal's office for the strap.

She, of course, could have punished me by making me do extra work, giving me a detention after school or keeping me in for recess. Actually, the latter would have been a blessing in disguise because I hated recess. No kid would play with me except Renate. Or, she could have sent a note home to my grandmother. However she did neither. I guess she could see by my quivering lip that I was already terrified, so what she did was write in my copybook "spoken to" in big red letters. She said that I would be reminded of this conversation and that I would never do anything like this again.

At the end of the year when it was time to bring home all our work, I hid that copybook so that my grandmother would never see it. I was ashamed of myself and I was afraid of what my grandmother would say. After all Mrs.Appelaize had said that I was a bad girl. I never wanted to be a bad girl.

The end of the ghost that haunted me

I held that shame until I started high school and was cleaning out some of my old school work and stumbled upon the copybook. I reread the comment "spoken to" in large red letters. And I said to myself what did I do to deserve the title of bad girl? All these years I have been carrying around this guilt in my heart because I scribbled in my copybook on one solemn occasion!

It was time to shake the ghost that haunted me
. I showed the copybook to my grandmother, and recounted that infamous day to her. She looked at me and said, "Is that all you did? Now let me tell you what your father did that earned him the title 'bad boy' and a well-deserved title, at that." The ghost was finally put to rest. I never again felt like a bad girl in school.

All Photos from Wikimedia Commons

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Bad Girl, Bad School Experiences, School Days, School Discipline, School Life, School Stories

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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6th Feb 2015 (#)

Great review madam and it's so interesting stories. Thank you.

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