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Friday, November 13, 2009

Maria and Mrs. Robinson

Childhood Flashback:  Maria and Mrs. Robinson

It was first or second grade.  Mrs. Robinson didn't like me much.  Though, I never figured out why.  She never seemed happy with any of us actually.  Typically, I loved school and I loved my teachers.  They were often like surrogate parents.

But, not Mrs. Robinson.  She was round and portly.  She had yellow hair.  The kind they color to look that way.  She wore it up in a bee's hive.  At least, that's what it looked like to me.  And, she was mean.

If you were tardy, she'd embarrass you in front of the class.  I was often tardy.  Mom wasn't very good with time management.  Once, I tried to explain to Mrs. Robinson that it wasn't my fault. After all, I couldn't drive a car.  I had to wait for my mom to bring me.

She grabbed me by the upper arm with a grip so firm it left a mark, and she put her face close to mine and she whispered something as she seethed.  I don't remember what she said but I do remember the glare in her eyes and the contortment of her face, and I made a mental note never to try and reason with her ever again.

I remember once on the playground a boy named David called my name.  When I turned around to face him, he kicked me in the stomach.  Apparently, someone had dared him.  I fell to the ground and I couldn't breath.  I was sure I was suffocating.  Have you ever been kicked in the stomach?  I thought I was dying.  I managed to crawl to the steps of the school and tried to speak but barely a breath would come out.  Mrs. Robinson growled at me for bothering her.

When I was finally able to catch my breath enough to speak and tell her what happened, she told me not to be a tattle tail and sent me for a drink of water.  I hated that school.  HATED IT.  And, I typically loved school.

Then there was Maria.  When she'd get to school she'd roll up her cut offs to make them really short.  And, she'd tie her shirt up so that her tummy would show.  She said it made her look like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, but to me it always looked tacky and like her clothes were too small.

Mrs. Robinson would occasionally nag at Maria to put her shirt down.  But, Maria never did and Mrs. Robinson didn't seem to really care.  She'd just mutter something under her breath and go on.  She never cared much about anything.  To this day I wonder how she ever got to be a teacher in the first place.

Maria was taller than most of us and she used that to her advantage.  She was pushy, bossy, and pretty much told everyone what to do.   Her hair was midnight black, thick and wavy.  And, it hung wildly around her face and shoulders and all the way down to her waist.

Maria always acted like she owned the playground. She was always pushing everyone around.  If she was on the swing set then you weren't allowed on the swing set.  If she was on the monkey bars, then you weren't allowed on the monkey bars.

My mom had instructed me not to let kids bully me.  In fact, she went so far as to tell me that if someone hit me and I didn't do anything about it?  She'd give me a paddle herself when I got home.  I think she was just trying to encourage me to defend myself in the best way she knew how.

"Rochelle, if you let them pick on you and push you around now they will always pick on you and push you around."   And, you know what?  She was absolutely right.

One day at recess, I'd had enough.  Maria was dressed in her typical attire of rolled up cut offs and her tied up t-shirt, hair dangling wildly all around her almost medusa like.

Mom had dressed me in her favorite red velvet dress.  I hated that dress.  It was a vest like dress that I wore over a foofy white blouse with a poofy white collar and long, fluffy-poofy white sleeves.  The dress was real velvet which made it very heavy.  Whenever I'm at the doctor's office and they put one of those x-ray vests on me, I always think back to that red velvet dress.

I wanted to play on the monkey bars.  Maria had beaten me to them though, and was already sitting at the top as if she was the queen of the monkey bars.

"You can't climb up here, these are MY monkey bars."

"They are not your monkey bars..." I retorted.

"Oh yes they are!" she hollered back. "I got here first, so they are my monkey bars.  And, YOU, better not climb on them."

Don't ask me where it came from, but I countered with, "Oh yeah?  Well, you're not the boss of me and you can't tell me what to do!   It's a free country and I can climb on them if I want to!"

That's all it took and Maria came climbing down.  The other kids began circling around to watch what was about to happen.  I could hear my Mom's words in the back of my head, "You had better defend yourself young lady..."  I really didn't have a choice.

Maria came barreling at me and shoved me forcefully to the ground.  As she did, I reached out grabbing tightly onto anything and everything I could.  I fell backwards and my feet went up into the air, showing my undies to the world, black patten leather shoes up high to the sky.

I was completely humiliated as I heard the laughter of all the kids around us.  Once again, I despised the fact that Mom had made me wear that dress.  But, as I began to upright myself from the asphalt I felt something in my hands.  I looked up to everyone laughing and realized, they weren't laughing at me...  They were laughing at Maria!

I had ripped her shirt right open!  SHE was humiliated!  No one even noticed that my dress had gone right over my head when I fell to the ground.  And, the best part?  I felt something dangling from my fingers.  It was Maria's necklace.  I'd grabbed on so forcefully that I'd ripped her shirt and broken her necklace as well.

I felt satisfied.  I felt proud.  I felt....vindicated.  Maria might still be the boss, but she was no longer the boss of me.  And, she and I both knew it.

I remember I didn't remain at that school much longer after that.  I did find out later on that Mom had had it out with Mrs. Robinson at one point, and took it to the principal.  Mrs. Robinson lost her job and shortly after we moved away anyway.

I like to think we left that school in a much better place.  Having ridden it of Mrs. Robinson and the fact that Maria had been tamed.


True story.  Mrs. Robinson would threaten us that if she turned us in for being tardy, CPS would take us away.  I don't know how that lady was every able to be a teacher.  Of course, that was back in the late 70s.  I don't think administration was as aware back then as they are today.  and, I don't think teachers were regulated and evaluated on the same level.

I do know that my Mom, did indeed, threaten Mrs. Robinson when she found out about her grabbing my arm so violently.  Shortly after that, my Mom had her fired.  That was an empowering moment for me.  I realized, that just because someone was an adult -- and in a position of power -- didn't mean they were always right.  And, that being a respectful child did not mean tolerating abuse.

That is a big lesson for a little girl to learn so early on.  Especially, when I looked up to teachers as mentors and safe havens.

I'm off on my way today.  But, I just had to share as Maria has been on my mind lately.  Isn't it funny how we just suddenly flash back?

Happy Friday!  FWFD of the week!  We are going to PAAARTAY this afternoon.  I'm might even vlog  a Shiner with ya!



Prohomemaker.Com said...

Wow, this brought back a flood of "fun" memories. :-)

I was always beaten up as a kid 'cause I was so sensitive, had buck teeth etc. Finally, in junior high I learned that if you are funny, they leave you alone. And, if not, if you knee 'em in the balls, they leave you alone. :-)

Honest to God, my *last* day of high school, a guy called me "faggot," and jumped me. I happened to have a ballpoint pen in my hand -- it ended up in his back. I wiped the blood in my precious yearbook to say how happy I was that this part of my life was over.

That was *the* last time anyone ever beat me up again, and it felt damn good.

Stuff could always be worse said...

what a great story of school days and bullying, glad you finally had enough, i did something similar, but less dramatic. It is funny how those memories follow us :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I might be back, and I might not . . . who's to say. But I'm at least here today! And wrote a new post. Hope you can get over there when you have time! :)

Anyway, I really enjoyed this post! Glad Mrs. Robinson got fired, she sounds like a mean old bat!


Baseball Mom said...

Those must have been in the day when it was not impossible to have a teacher fired. Now? It is almost impossible to get grounds to have anything done to teachers. *sigh*

Nice story.