This evening I was chatting with child #3 about many different topics, and we came upon things we won’t do. I told her that, while I have a degree in English, I refuse to teach. Why? Because children can be very cruel. I know my limitations and I won’t do it. Not to mention, that I believe kids deserve good teachers who want to be there. I do not. I enjoyed homeschooling my kids, and even got two of them all the way through, but that’s it.
I think it all stems back to being bullied as a child by many of the kids at my school. I went to parochial school from 1st to 7th grade, where kids picked on me because I wasn’t as skinny as they were (a.k.a. the pig valentines on St. Valentine’s day) or being laughed at for a very unfortunately worded sentence by a teacher reading on a worksheet. (She was trying to shorten the time it took to correct them, so she was only reading the first part which included the correct tense of the word, so instead of “Rita burst into tears.” we got “Rita burst.”) Yeah, they all laughed and it was horrible. I was a chubby child. I didn’t know I had celiac disease back then, and no one really even knew what that was anyway.
Also the fact that my family had very little money. My dad and mom both helped around the school, though my dad was the more active as a helper for the maintenance man. He also taught children who couldn’t speak English and wanted to integrate into the school. He spoke Spanish very well, and was an asset to the school. The other children saw this help and knew that we must not have money since my dad was always around helping. It was another difference that made me stand out for ridicule. This was a pretty affluent school, and being poor was not o.k.
Then there was the time when I overheard a girl who I thought was a friend telling the others that they shouldn’t play with me because I wasn’t white enough! I was so hurt. I was six and I felt like a failure, even though I couldn’t do anything to change my skin, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to now, even if I could. Back then, I just wanted to be like them. My dad told me that someday they would all be envious of my sun-kissed-looking skin, and that did happen, but the damage by their words had already been done. I was different and that wasn’t a good thing.
Child #3 agreed with me, that people’s words can be so very hurtful. She said that we should be careful what we say. I agree. We don’t know if that one nasty word is what will push someone over the edge. On the other hand, we don’t know if one kind word will be the word that offers hope and keeps someone from a horrible mistake. Wisely choose your words and remember that kindness is never a mistake.