My first grade teacher was the first person I had ever met that was cruel because she seemed to enjoy it. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me at the time. I was everything she hated in one person and after awhile I decided to own it and let her deal.
She was an Orthodox Jew and all the rest of my class was Jewish so I was the Gentile kid. Taller than the rest of the class in school and smallest at church and a strawberry blond in the midst of a bunch of curly dark haired kids. I stood out without trying. I was the kid with a disability. She told me in front of the class that this was God’s punishment for something my parents had done wrong. All disabilities were punishments from an angry God.
She couldn’t stand to look at my wandering eye and would make me run errands to the far corners of the school like the Principal’s office. I liked that because it got me away from her.
She told my mother I was hyperactive and needed to be medicated. This did not go as planned. They gave me a Ritalin. I fell asleep and woke up in the Nurse’s Office. They gave me half. I woke up in the Nurse’s Office. They gave me a ¼ of the pill. I was getting to know the Nurse really well when the Nurse called a halt to the whole thing. Mind you this was 1959 and there were few medicated kids. I learned later that my mom went in and told Mrs. Solomon that my only problem was that I was smarter than her. (I knew how to read before I got there and that was about all she knew how to teach.) Dick and Jane were a dead bore. When I was reading the Oz books by myself.
When I got bullied she did nothing to stop it and as far as the kids were concerned she was doing it too so why shouldn’t they? One kid pushed me down and stepped on the back of my head and broke my glasses. Nothing happened to him. It never happened as far as they were concerned.
But the crowning thing was that I was a leftie. This gave Mrs. Solomon license to hit and she did. All the time loudly stating that she wasn’t going to have any left-handed writers in her class. They caused too much trouble. They had to have special seats and special tools. She had a wide wooden ruler that I was intimately familiar with. And I do not write left-handed so I suppose she succeeded in one effort. I’m still left footed and I tend to be ambidextrous about many things. Not being able to write left-handed was one of the most painful things to happen to me as a child.
In the Middle Ages people were put to death for being left-handed. It was the Devil’s hand. It is part of who you are and it is part of your biology. Your brain is wired to your handedness. It is no different than being born gay. Your brain is wired to your sexuality and who you are attracted to and I think one of the reasons I was willing to leave everything behind is that I’d already been there once and there was no way I was going there again. Being hit by my teacher was a huge violation of my very being. I had been raised to think a teacher is always right. My parents were teachers. It taught me to hate. I have never hated anyone like I hated Mrs. Solomon. No one should teach a 6 year old to hate. It taught me that adults were not always right and that authority was a bludgeon people hid behind when they had no other way to control someone. I have never ever trusted anyone in authority since then. Children shouldn’t have to learn that authority is evil. I don’t take orders well unless I can clearly see why I’m being ordered to do anything. This ended up scaring the crap out of my sorority sisters during pledging because I wasn’t intimidated during pledging like the other pledges.
It’s made me a skeptical person who has a very jaundiced view of anyone in authority. I learned that bullies were real and came in adult form and it taught me early on that bullies are cowards and not very bright and not to be paid attention to at all. It’s why I was fairly oblivious to bullies in Middle School and High School because as far as I was concerned they were amateurs.