Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Better Forgotten

I’d recently read a thoughtful, well-written (like she can write any other way…pssh!) post by Maureen over at Island Roar. If you haven’t had the pleasure, feel free to check it out.

Co-incidentally, I’d written myself several post-its involving a somewhat similar topic:




Well, maybe similar would not be the best word…as I’m the first to admit that Maureen’s posts usually make sense….I realize mine may still be open to some debate.

(This is the part when everyone chimes in with, “What? Noooooo! That couldn’t be further from the truth, Kathryn! Please continue along with this stellar post…’cause we love ya…we just DO!” At least, that’s how I hear it in my head….)

I’d had dinner last week with a 16-year-old-girl who’d related a story of a male teacher who’d told her when she was only 8 years old that “she colored like a two-year-old”. You should’ve seen the look on her face…she looked so...hurt and confused. She said she never understood why that teacher just didn’t like her.

The reaction in my head: “WTF?! Are you freakin’ kidding me? Where the f*%k did that guy come off saying something so eff-ing cruel to a child so young? Give me his name immediately so I can drop-kick his sorry ass from here to the nearest railroad crossing…where his right arm would be severed at the elbow by a high-speed locomotive bearing down on him at 75mph…causing him to go to rehab to re-learn how to write with his left hand…and they’d start him off with crayons (‘cause they’re thicker and easier to hold)…and his grumpy-therapist would grumble at him that “he colored like a freakin’-two-year-old”.

My actual verbal reaction: “Oh, honey! He sounds like he was just having a rough day. I’ll bet it had nothing whatsoever to do with you. Forget about him! Every other teacher adores you!"

But that got me thinking about things we’ve been told in our lives that we’ll never forget. Not the good, empowering, complimentary stuff, mind you…that seems to go in one ear and out the other….but those fleeting words that somehow managed to create a lasting chink in our self-esteem.

I can remember raising my hand in second grade. When the teacher acknowledged me, I asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?” The teacher responded with, “You can if you may.” I had no idea what the hell that even meant…was it one of those new-fangled poems that doesn’t even have to rhyme? All I knew was that I had to pee and I couldn’t figure out if I had permission or not. Teacher stared expectantly at me…I stared back…convinced she could see that the pee in my body had risen all the way up to my eyeballs. Finally she sighed and said “You may go to the bathroom” and I bolted out the door. It was another two years before I finally understood what she actually meant.

We had an indoor pool in my middle school (good) and some moron decided "advanced swim instruction" would be taught as part of our physical education (baaaaad). Our swim instructor was teaching us to dive and I couldn’t, without holding my nose. When I tried, I’d come up choking, sputtering and gasping. No amount of forcing air out my nose at impact was gonna stop the water from pouring down my throat. (It was at this moment I realized that I’d never become a professional synchronized swimmer) He refused to let me (or anyone) wear nose plugs. To this day, I can only tread water…and have a healthy fear of any water that is deeper than I am tall.

I started smoking (inhaling) after some mean chick (with really bad hair, I might add) at work laughed at me when she saw I didn’t inhale. I smoked for ten years…then quit for good.

In my mid-twenties, a friend of a friend (male) casually mentioned that he thought I had fat fingers. Granted, they are not all long and slender….but they’re not fat, dammit. They’re well-proportioned….and they’d look thinner if I had long, manicured nails and a nice tan….

And finally…the one you’ve probably wondered the most about: the Ann Landers post-it. She’d written some medical home-remedy book…because well, we all know what an expert she was in everything…. and I’m sure in her mind, (and I guess her publicist’s as well) she was more than qualified to dole out medical advice to poor, unsuspecting pre-teens such as myself. Anyway, there it was...on my mom’s bookshelf. I was having a little problem with being…well, let’s just say a little “loose in the caboose” if you know what I mean…and I figured if anyone could fix me right up, it would be Ann.

(For the record, she was also the only name I recognized on the entire bookshelf, so how could I go wrong?) As she lamented about the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, she described the other end of the spectrum from my conundrum…and she described it as “pushing and pushing and producing nothing more than a small, dry pile of rabbit pellets”. I remember feeling a mixture of horror and amusement. To this day, if I have an occasional bout of constipation, I’ll mentally send a thumbs-up to my buddy Ann….who was absolutely no help whatsoever.

But I never forgot.


Oddyoddyo13 said...

Man, don't you just hate those moments? People usually tell me about stuff other people said about me either behind my back or when I was too little to understand or remember. Usually, I just wonder why they don't tell me to spare me, because I linger over absolutely everything. Don't worry, I'll bet you have beautiful fingers!

Gavin said...

Moments like that suck like hell and I can remember way too many of them surprisingly enough. I guess I didn't fry as many brain cells as I thought. Or least not the memory holding ones. XD

carissajaded said...

I wish I could forgot those moments!! I actually can relate to that 16 yr old. When I was in the sixth grade my art teacher asked us to draw a picture of what we thought "Thanksgiving" meant. I drew a picture that included me playing football with my cousins. My teacher told me that she thought my football looked like a turd. It really hurt, and though I know now that she was just a bitch, I still remember that moment like it was yesterday!!

Alicia said...

Well I'm gonna be brief cause American Idol comes on in 10 minutes. I know, I know...we don't speak of Idol, Sorry :-)

Anyway, I remember a teacher making me go to the blackboard and write what day of the week it was. It was Wednesday, but I couldn't for the life of me remember how to spell it.

I pretended to drop the chalk and then look around for it while in my head I desperately searched for the letters and how to put them all together.

I never found them and the teacher made me look like an idiot and I had to go back and sit down in disgrace while everyone laughed at me :-(

Moral of the story, take the bad and turn it into something positive. I learned how to spell so I would never be embarrassed like that again. I wish the teacher had asked me to add something up, then maybe I would be good at Math. You think?

Anyway kiddo, love the post, really brought back some old, old, old, memories!

Carol said...

When those evil comments try to ruin your day, just remember our good friend Stuart Smalley- you're good enough, smart enough and dog gone it, people like you! That's why we're here baby!

Ron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

First, I gotta say...great post, Kathryn.

Both thought-provoking and humorous.

And yes...OMG...yes! I could tell ya SEVERAL stories when this happened to me. Hell...I went eight years to catholic school and that was always such great place to be ridiculed and embarrassed in front of the class room. That's because they believed it HUMBLED you. HA!

But, I'll tell ya something...it made me a more resiliant person. And it also made me more sensitive to others, by thinking about what I say to them before I say it.

Love that last photo, my friend!

Hope you had a great day!

xoxoxo

Lauren said...

Those aren't raisins are they? And Timmies is a coffee shop... probably akin to Dunkin' Donuts? That one's not Canadian is it? Anyway, it is strange how we hold on to the negative stuff so easily isn't it? You should have made your swim instructor try diving your way and if he could, then you would try it his way. As to teachers... I hate the ones who don't realize the power they have. I'm all for your solution. Except that I want to beat him with the severed limb a little before sending him to the hospital.

TC said...

We've all had those moments and you do make sense when you write...it's I who lose the train of thought and people have to read it several times to figure out what I MIGHT have been saying like this comment....
GREAT POST BTW.. I had this 6th grade teacher......

Ashley S said...

What a wonderful and highly entertaining post! :D That poor girl! Yes, I think we all have those little words that stick with us throughout our lives.

I have a doozy from my 3rd grade year. Teachers can absolutely be cruel! :)

Wonder why he was so anti-nose plugs. Hmm...

Pratik Gupta said...

Oh man!! It was like one of those journey down the memory lane...so mane memories flashing at the same time and if i pause one - it would be one of the coloring incident you mentioned, in my tenth grade. I painted a scenery and she asked , what i have drawn and to my surprise, i was also not even to figure out many of the things from my own drawings....sad ! sad !

Isn't it?

I know it is.

Anyways it ruined my dream career of being the next picaso ( as if I got that edge)

So anyhow that turned me towards a safe , better career of engineer . Thanks to the legend who recognized my potential, even before anyone.

Anyway,i seriously feel Teaching is the most noble profession after medical and people should take it with greater responsibility.You can scar the kid for life.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

While growing up the teachers I had were great and I don't remember being traumatized by them. My mother however, is a different story.

Moxie Girl aka Amber Lea said...

I had been in advanced math throughout middle school, but my freshman year geometry teacher told me, "you're just a girl, why are you wasting your time with math? You're just gonna end up married with a baby on your hip anyway." Yes, he actually said that. I was never good at math after that class.

Then my college boyfriend who I dumped after finding out that he cheated on me said, "you're such a control freak. You're going to die alone." Now that I am a widow and although his comment was 20 years ago, his words still echo through my mind. Bastard!

Lou said...

Love the pellet pic :-) very artistic.

Runnergirl said...

I've had a few of those comments - mainly from my own family, but I think I've proven them wrong on most counts. Fat girls can get boyfriends, decent jobs, and a good circle of friends...

Fierce said...

I have this thing that if someone tells me I can't do something I try to prove them wrong. Maybe its just my own defense mechanism but it works for me... most of the time. Like a teacher once told me I was stupid because I failed a question on one of her tests. I was so pissed that I got a perfect score on every other test she gave till she stopped teaching me. That showed 'er!!!
The moral? I don't know the moral. What I do know is that people tend to say such hurtful things probably because they forget that nobody is perfect; so they elevate themselves to a level of perfection and in their eyes you're a bumbling idiot. But trust me, that wears off fast. Look up the person that said you have fat fingers, he probably has an over-eaters anonymous meeting scheduled.

:)
xoxo

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Great post Kathryn!
My 4th grade teacher made a kid stand at the front of the room and stick his gum on his nose when she found him chewing gum. Then she sat with the class and laughed as he struggled to keep it there. I just remember sitting there, glaring at her like "how dare you." She made this face at me, but finally let him sit down. We all have to realize we have an impact on people, especially kids.
Hey, thanks for the shout out, my friend!

KT said...

thank you, Kathryn, for those delicious bunny pellets. They are just SO NOT FUNNY! I'm eating! jajaja.....

Spot said...

EEeew! Please tell me those are raisins!

I think everyone has those moments in their life where someone says something horrible to them and it sticks with them forever. I remember a few, but happily I've put them behind me. But that's just because my own sense of self confidence is overinflated. ;]

Funny post! Fat fingers indeed! Lol.
♥Spot

ValleyWriter said...

As a kid - and even a teenager - I got more fat comments than you could shake a stick at. My best revenge? Showing up at my 10-year high school reunion a glowing size 4 newlywed. Take that suckers! :-D

jmberrygirl said...

Oh, Kathryn. Thanks. You've resurrected memories. I was once told, "You are not a writer." Looking back, I should have pointed out that the statement was just as silly as saying, "You have no freckles" or "Your hair is black and shiny."

Noelle said...

Oh Kathryn, We all have them then I guess, don't we? So sorry for your pain, but I realy liked the way that you turned it into something potentially $$ for your own well being. That's kind of like never let em see you cry, or sweat, or something like that. STAY STRONG in spite of adversity, even if you're in second grade!
When I was in second grade I got (literally) knocked down a few rungs on a ladder by a nun, all because my mother was of the generation who still feared for her life in their very presence..I earned a lovely concussion for it as well, was vomiting by the time I got off the bus, and the doctor at the ER that I was taken to asked for the name of the person 'responsible' my mother said, Oh no one Dr. it was just an accident!
That was the first time that I ever remember KNOWING that she was lying, WOW. 2nd grade!
Interesting thoughts. I have had trouble looking at Nuns since..
Have a good day!
~Mona

Chelsea said...

Yeah everyone has mean comments said to them, especially if it's about looks. It's just always good to see them years later and you are now looking ten times better and they're looking ten times worse!

Kathryn said...

Oddyoddyo13: Aw, honey! That's my point! Whether it's "true" or not...it's so sad that it can stick with us like that. I especially hate it when the remark was said by someone who honestly had no clue how much their words hurt. And I know that even if I spoke up, the words were already said.

Gavin: Yeah, but why don't the positive ones weigh in as heavily as the negative ones? I just don't get that.

carissajaded: Well, that sucks! I wish ppl who have such a huge influence on children would try thinking before they speak. Is that too much to ask??

Kathryn said...

Alicia: Well, this memory didn't sound all that lovely! My heart aches for little-girl Alicia..I'm sorry to make you remember that! Surely that teacher could have helped you out and not made it so traumatic!

Carol: HA! I feel so fortunate to not have had THAT many of "those" moments...and they rarely come back to haunt me, but it's still weird how I can remember those moments so much clearer than the "good" moments...

Kathryn said...

RON! Thanks, sweetie! What is it with parochial schools and torture?? It's like a running joke already...only NOT FUNNY for the ppl who lived through it! HA! I threw the rabbit-poop-photo in as a last minute add-on! Glad I did! xoxo

Kathryn said...

Lauren: Nope. Not a raisin to be found, sorry! Thanks for explaining what a "Timmies" is....and I'm all for beating that guy with his own severed limb. (Gee...I've always wanted to say that in a sentence.)

TC: OH, NOOOO! Then I'm sorry for both of us! You know when I lose my train of thought when reading? When it's Shakespeare-ian...I totally can't follow it.

Ashley S: I think that swim teacher was just very set in his ways. He was one of those guys who felt that if HE could do it, everyone else should be able to. Have you met ppl like that? I have...they're infuriating!

Pratik Gupta: Aw! I wonder...did you still paint after that 10th grade? This is what kills me...who's to say that you couldn't have been BOTH an excellent engineer AND a painter? I thought teachers were supposed to foster creativity? It's not like it was MATH! Grrrrr!

Kathryn said...

WannabeVirginiaW: Well, if you noticed, only 2 of my 4 "remarks" were made by teachers. They just seem to have done the most damage, though....second only, I'm sure, to parents...

Moxie Girl: OHMYGOD. I don't know who infuriates me more...that teacher or that college dickhead. (sorry.) I HATE that stupid ppl who say STUPID things can somehow manage to live on in our minds! Someone needs to invent a PILL for this!

Lou: Ya like that? I can't take credit for that one...but leave it to Google to find "rabbit poop pics" when I need 'em!

Kathryn said...

Runnergirl: Yikes. They must've been lovely comments...(not). I wish more people would think before they speak. Seriously.

Fierce: Oh, you are HILARIOUS...and also most likely a GENIUS! (This is why you have access to my Blackberry!) My theory is that people who say stupid things like that are careless and so self-involved, they don't even realize they could be hurting someone's feelings. I'm mighty proud of you for acing all those tests, honey! Even if it WAS for REVENGE!!

Maureen@IslandRoar: There you are! I hope you don't mind my plagiarizing your post subject...it was ironic when I realized that I'd been thinking along the same lines, but including the non-teachers in my thoughts as well. Your 4th grade teacher is hopefully retired by now...and has some retirement home director telling her what to do. You deserve lots of shout-outs, my dear!!

KT: Oh, dear...it just occurred to me that you may be consuming something. I do apologize for that. I'll try to remember to put an icky-disclaimer next time, in case someone's having a meal!

Spot: Raisins? Not. Sorry...
But that's just because my own sense of self confidence is overinflated. HA! This was hysterical! You GO, girl!

ValleyWriter: HA! Now, THAT'S what I like to hear! It's nice to know there's some serious cosmic-revenge at work out there...somewhere!

Kathryn said...

jmberrygirl: (Hangs head in shame) Sorry. I promise I'll do a post on a bunch of awesome things that exist that we can all enjoy...will that help?? (Actually, I'm planning on it anyway!) Whoever told you THAT was an idiot. Plain and simple.

Noelle: Well, I don't blame you! Sounds like you and Ron both have some traumatic memories of your Catholic school days....I'm sorry for that, sweetie. Oh! I owe you a visit...and an email! On my way-

Kathryn said...

Chelsea: I know! There's that cosmic justice-thing! Let's hope it always works in our favor! Especially 'cause if WE were mean, we didn't say it maliciously...that should count for something.

Heather said...

Loved this post!

I once had a music teacher that complimented my fingers, saying that they were perfect for the piano. UNTIL..I tried the piano, then she changed her tune. To this day..I look at my finger and think "Why won't they work right, they are supposed to be perfect for the piano!".

Her words stuck in my head, even after all these years.

jh said...

People suck. Why do children have to ask to go potty, what an abuse of power. Hey, are those raisins?? Might as well be right, they probably come out like pellets! eww...

Allegria said...

Oy. I'm not going to go into it, but I wish that we remembered the good things people say about us as long--or longer--and those thoughtless, hurtful things that stick forever.

Jenny said...

I was hanging out with my bf at the time, sitting on the edge of his bed with my legs crossed and shorts on. One of his affectionate gestures was to poke my dimples whenever I smiled at him. So we're sitting there laughing about something, and he says "aw, look at your cute little dimple" then proceeds to poke the dimple ON MY THIGH! As in my cellulite! I'm all DUDE! NO YOU DID NOT JUST PUT YOUR FINGER IN MY FAT DIMPLE!

Honestly, it did not really hurt my feelings or anything because I knew he was just THAT dumb, but still the NO YOU DI-N'T of it all stays with me. I just have to laugh. :)

Kathryn said...

Heather: Thanks, sweetie! Isn't it sooo weird, how these little snippets of time become immortalized in our heads? It'll pop up when you least expect it, right?

jh: You're funny, doll! I don't think they're raisins...I literally Googled "rabbit poop" and that's what I got. Oh, and kids only have to ask at school 'cause if they didn't they'd all go at once!!

Allegria: That is exactly what I'm saying! And you said it in so many LESS words! You're my HERO!

Jenny: And THAT, my friends...is why he's the "Bf at the time" and not CURRENT. Da nerve!!!

Jerry said...

When they are choosing which players are going to be on their team....and I was the last to be reluctantly chosen.

The most horrifying circumstance would be to see the message 'This post has been removed by the author'. It would be devastating.

Wendy Blum said...

My kindergarten teacher began by telling my mom that she wanted to teach me how to write with my right hand. When my mom refused to change me to a right-y, my teacher began to pick apart my handwriting in any way possible. I remember trying so hard to write my first and last name into an small area that she had marked on either side like this x________x No matter how I filled in the blank she'd find fault with how I'd done it. Finally, she said "Never mind, I'll do it myself!" in a snotty voice and then told me while giving me a stern look and roll of eyes to sit down. She would also tell me how awful my handwriting was. But I am the one who gets the last laugh. I have had many who find my handwriting neat and beautiful. Thank God my first grade teacher was great =)

jasofme said...

Yes I too have had this happen to me but it was not a teacher it was my guidance councilor from high school. In my senior year when I went to him for college help he looked at me and said.. "Why are you bothering. NO college will accept you because your not smart enough." My jaw dropped I could not believe he said that to me!! It was a bad but good thing because I set out to prove him wrong and I got accepted to the top Jr college in New England at the time. I did not go because I had my son instead but it was still a victory I claimed. LOL The only other time I can think of is when my son's teacher would tell me everyday when I picked up my son from school that I was a bad mother and that my child was a monster. So it isn't just YOUR teachers that can hurt you.

Kathryn said...

Jerry: Aw! My friend (a non-blogger) just assumed that seeing "post removed by author" meant that I had deleted it and she wondered what horrifying thing it contained. I think she was a little disappointed to realize that most of the time, posts are deleted by the commenter 'cause it's a simple dupe. That's it!

Wendy Blum: Oh! Well, I'm glad your 1st grade teacher was nicer...but obviously you never forgot that kindergarten one. I wonder if she did this to others? I'll bet you weren't the only one...

jasofme: Oh, that's HORRIBLE! What the hell is wrong with these people??

Post a Comment

Fabulous Insights by Fabulous Readers