21 September 2011

If I Could Go Back...to First Grade

The NaBloPoMo prompt for today is:

If you could return to any grade in school, which one would you want to do again?

There are actually two grades that I would like to return to, but I will talk about first grade.

I was a scared little girl those first days of school. So scared, in fact, that I scared another little girl all the way back home. Her mama was cleaning house, turned around, and there the little girl was back at home.

I would want to confront my first grade teacher, Miss Cromer. Both of us handled those first few days badly. Sure, I shouldn't have called her a big dummy, but she was the grown-up and should have helped me to cope with the scary new world that didn't include my mama being ever-present.

I would explain to her the years of humiliation and panic ahead of me that she set up with that paddling over her stool at the front of the class. Though I remember feeling fear before that time, I don't remember being afraid of being in front of other people, of being on display. After that point, being called to the board, public speaking, doing anything in front of groups of people that had all eyes on me scared me to death and it never got any better.

I agree that my disrespect of an elder needed to be dealt with. I do not believe, though, that she handled it the way that it should have been handled. To be fair, she had no way of knowing what I was enduring elsewhere, to even begin to understand the fragile state my little-girl psyche was in at the time.

In eleventh grade, a truly great teacher named Anna Dean Pennington did everything that she could to try to get me over the fear of public speaking. She had us come to the front of the class every Friday to give current events in our US History class. Every Friday, I prayed that she would forget that we needed to do this, but she never forgot. My legs would shake, my tongue would swell, and I could barely speak. I don't know how I avoided hurling, but I don't recall every giving up my lunch in that class. It was this way at the first current event - and at the last one.

To this day, it is the same. Just the thought of it causes my breathing to freak out.

While, ultimately, Miss Cromer didn't get me to this point on her own, she is where it started. She is the one that brought my fears public.

I would just want to tell her this and to find out if she ever learned better how to deal with scared little children.

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