When I entered school, my biggest problem was my 1st grade teacher Antonina Pavlovna.
*This is a cautionary tale for kids and their parents. Be nice to your teachers. This is what used to pass for educators twenty years ago.
Antonina Pavlovna had many hobbies.
She liked to exercise her vocal cords.
She liked to exercise her throwing arm.
But her favorite pastime was intimidation followed by humiliation.
One time she yelled at a kid so much, his entire breakfast came back up.
I can’t be sure, but I think she made him clean it up.
Decades later at a reunion his classmates asked him what he did for a living. He hugged his muscled arms and said in a deep voice ‘I take care of problems’.
I bet every time he ‘takes care of a problem’ he imagines A.P.’s face before him.
As I said her favorite past time was intimidation and humiliation, in that order, but her absolute favorite thing to do was to hit me on the head as hard as she could with her knuckles.
She once said my head had made the best sound. Because it was hollow.
Now you know why I have such a thick skull. It’s not because I am a Taurus.
I think I was her favorite project. She really, really didn’t like me. I had a broken finger once and I came to class anyway, because missing a class was never an option. If you missed class, a doctor’s note was not enough. You had to bring the doctor.
Anyway I had a broken finger and we had dictation that day.
And that’s how I learned to write(scribble really) with my left hand.
My little sister joined my school when I was in my third year.
She lasted a week.
While my teacher should have been locked up for child abuse, my sister’s teacher was in need of AA.
Needless to say my parents pulled my sister out of the school right away. They ‘forgot’ to take me.
There was a school at an Italian Embassy where a friend of my dad’s worked and they admitted my sister immediately.
To say she liked the school and her new teachers would be an understatement. She loved it and everything that came with it. She learned Italian, she learned how not to flinch away from a teacher and she learned that a school can be a nurturing and hopeful environment.
This was their break time.
And this was mine.
Round and round the circle we went between classes on our breaks. Like prison inmates, with a warden looking on.
Still I learned to pass the time wisely.
All those pretty dresses and all those pretty bows I conjured up in my head made my day go by faster. And they say fashion is frivolous.Pft.
Hopes and dreams of fashionable future can save a life of a depressingly dressed child. That and plotting revenge against the oppressor.