Third Grade Level Trauma

I was inspired to write this post by another blogger that goes by Finslippy, aka Alice Bradley.Yeah, her.

Yes -- she written for gobs of publications and even authored a few books, and therefore yes, she is relatively famous.

And Yes -- I tend to shy away from bloggers that have somehow "made it" in the blogging world, by... you know -- BLOGGING and writing books. Not for any real particular reason other than the fact that I am a relatively unheard of blogger... And therein lies some sort of crazy ball of rubber bands.

Because -- a few hundred might read this... and I'm quite astounded by that. Whereas Alice Bradley has to worry about ... Oh, thousands upon thousands. And I'm not so sure that I could handle that kind of pressure. But here I am. Going against the unwritten rule of bloggers blogging about bloggers... but that's okay. Because just like my friend Gretchen Rubin, whom I pounced on over the summer of 2010, Finslippy is also unaware that I know her, and she'll probably never know because I am not that person. Nope. Not me. I'm that other person that reads her blogs and books and whatnot and never comments or makes myself known. Because what she writes is almost too good. Too funny. Too true. And therefore too weird for me to be all HI LOOK AT ME, I LOVE YOU. Because, that would be a little odd, right?

But lately Alice (in my head she asked me to call her that) has been writing posts for a cause -- " allows donors to directly fund projects for teachers in struggling schools. Any amount you can donate will make a huge difference for these teachers! To date we've helped fund FIVE classroom projects. Donate any amount up to $100 and enter the match code FINSLIPPY at checkout, and your donation will be matched. Thank you!" -- In doing so, she has been going over her personal experience for each grade-school year and last week she wrote about fourth grade. And as I read her post from last week, about her teacher Mr. Klein that didn't like her because she was messy, I found myself transported back to third grade (fourth seems to me missing from my database -- must have been a stellar year!) when my teacher was Mrs. Cos.

Mrs. Cos didn't dislike me, she just didn't like kids very much and definitely hated my best friend. She would spy on us and if she even caught wind of any after school plans, she would find a reason to keep my friend after school... always staring at me in defiance as she lay the punishment. It left me feeling defeated, like I should have done something to save my friend, but obviously I was weak and powerless. She was mean and picked on people, like a bully -- but only so much worse because she was THE TEACHER (echo echo echo). There was crying in her classroom everyday, if my memory serves me right. But that was neither here nor there because, best friend aside, it seemed that I was flying low on her radar.

That is until my family went on a little trip to my Grandma's house and our luggage flew off the top of our orange Dodge Colt, and into the dark of night while driving on Interstate 287.

And it was scary. My Dad playing chicken with the traffic -- IN THE DARK -- attempting to retrieve whatever belongings he could.... items that were not worth his risking his life running around on the highway as my Mom, sister and I peered over the backseat. Items, that in retrospect as we laugh at the situation, meant nothing but did include my school books and homework materials. And while I could have been all like "SCORE!!!" to the fact that I was unable to complete any and all assignments -- the dread and fear of having to explain this to Mrs. Cos was immediately stifling. But, my Mom wrote a note.

Handing the note to Mrs. Cos, my hand was shaking. It isn't until now that I can remember this vividly... it was warm out -- the windows to the classroom were open and the kids playing outside on their recess made for excess noise that was only fueling my anxiety. I gave her the note and ran back to my desk, hiding my head in my arms. The howl of her laughter burned through my head, setting my ears aflame. She read the note aloud. My classmates were confused -- was this funny? They laughed a little, but hesitated probably out of fear since the woman in charge seemed to be spinning off into another dimension. The rage of her antics caught the attention of other teachers in the vicinity as they were called in to partake. Mrs. Cos was in her limelight, what could be funnier? The dog eating the homework, or a brutally honest note from Ryan's Mom stating that pages 6-12 were laying lifeless on the side of 287. The other teachers reacted with hesitation as well. Why was this woman laughing so hard when, clearly, I didn't think it was funny. The tears pouring from my eyes as some tried to comfort me.

But it is a sad, sad story. The ability of one homely little woman to create a memory so vivid that the smell of the day remains some twenty eight years later. That day went on -- although I can't remember the rest. And onto the next, yes. I have totally gotten over it, although I'll never tie a piece of luggage to the top of anything, ever. Reaching back, finding the memories of what is funny now but what was once perceived (i before e except after c) traumatic, is indeed an experience in itself.


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