School Daze

School. A place I thought I’d left behind forever, a long time ago. A word that I thought I could avoid thinking about. A feeling that I’d give anything to erase. 

But you can never really erase the memories, can you?

Especially when you have children going through the same thing. History repeating itself. 

And when you read blog posts by others, who had so many experiences that echoed your own. 

And the memories come crashing back. 

I have never felt so alone as I did in school. Especially primary school. The feeling of exclusion, of isolation. Of being laughed at and whispered about. The thoughts I tried to dismiss as paranoia, but that proved to be true. The wanting so desperately to fit in. The finding out that bullying can be a very subtle thing when done by girls, with no physical evidence to prove it happened. The only scars are mental. 

The crushing boredom. The horror when I realised I knew more than my teachers, that they got basic facts about other cultures and religions very wrong. I learnt to keep my mouth shut and never correct them, ever. Being punished for things I couldn’t control, like being tone deaf and ‘ruining’ the teachers chance of winning the annual choral contest. Or having terrible handwriting, not because I was sloppy and lazy as the teachers assumed, but from weak grip and crushing hand pain. For not doing homework when all I could do when I got home was collapse in exhaustion. And the annual message at the parent-teacher meetings: She’s not living up to her potential. 

And, because this is Ireland, the inability to escape religion. Saying grace before every meal. Or at least mouthing the words while cringing. But it could have been worse, I could have been visibly excluded like the Baha’i girl in the class. So we played along. 

So much of the details are blurred out. I zoned out a lot. Physically there, mentally ‘away with the fairies’. I tried to secure a seat by the window. A breathing space. All I wanted was to be left alone, to do my work, in peace. 

There’s so much more I want to write about school, but right now it’s too painful. 

And I look at my daughter and it breaks my heart. And I try to convince myself things will be different for her. And I whisper ‘homeschool’ and try to plant seeds. Homeschool. A ray of hope. Light at the end of the tunnel. Fingers crossed my seeds will grow. 

I thought once I ‘grew up’, I’d never have to think about school again. I was so wrong. 

I’ve a feeling this will be a subject I’ll come back to again and again. 
[image of a schoolgirl, who looks about nine or ten, with shoulder length light-brown hair, which is partially obscuring her face, and wearing a light blue and white striped blouse, rolled up to the elbows. She is looking down on an empty page of a notebook, with a blue pen in her right hand as if about to write sometime. She looks absorbed with what she is doing, looking down at the page, with a slight smile on her face.]

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