Ever feel like you were completely misunderstood or wronged as a child? Lots of times right? Ever have one of those misunderstandings bug the ever loving crap out of you for years and years and years?
Ok, maybe it’s just me. But here’s the story of how, as a little kid, I got treated like I was a jerk because a boy in the special education class kissed me.
I was somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade. You know what that is like. Herd mentality, you’re all kind of little assholes most of the time. Especially back in the very UN-pc 80’s.
I tried hard to be pretty nice to everyone though. Except boys. They were icky. Cooties! They farted! And once some of them threw frog guts at me. I was told they were flirting. But they smashed a FROG, killed it, and threw the guts in my hair. That was not flirting, that was bullying. We girls had all out wars with boys. If one of them touched your side of the desk, you couldn’t touch that side of the desk for thirty minutes or you would catch boy cooties and in all probability go blind.
But I digress.
I was in the nurses office coming down with my annual case of strep throat. I even remember that I was sick enough where someone came and took me home. This boy, Harold, came bursting into the nurses office. He was in the special ed class. We called it the handicapped class back then. Even the teachers. He was an african american boy, way taller and older than me. Of course, when you’re 7 or so, everyone above 4th grade looks like a grown up.
I was laying on the cot, he came in complaining about an upset stomach, with his teacher close behind him saying that he needed to go to the bathroom first and then if his stomach was still upset, he could come back to the nurse. Harold saw me laying on the cot, came running over, put his arms around me and gave me a sloppy wet kiss on the mouth and told me I was pretty. The nurse and the teacher laughed and said “Awwww” while I sat up, made several variations on the “yech” noise and frantically wiped my mouth off.
The adults quit smiling, and now were all frowning at me.
So before I go any further, here’s my take on why I was grossed out.
He was a boy, and he kissed me. I did not want boys kissing me. As discussed earlier, boys were gross.
The next week, I was sitting in class for quiet reading time. Which by the way, was my favorite time in school. I didn’t have to read along with the class, painfully slowly, eventually sneaking ahead only to get caught with the teacher would call on me to read the next line and I’d be on the next chapter! I lived each school day for free reading time!
A teacher came into the classroom and my teacher called me up to the front, where I was ushered out by this new teacher. She explained to me that they were going to take me on a tour of the handicapped classroom (her words) so I could learn that these kids were just like me, only a little different.
My entire free reading time consisted of going and meeting these kids who I really had no problem with in the first place while every teacher and aid in that room was informed that I was scared of these kids because when Harold kissed me I freaked out and thought I could “catch” his handicap.
I got more than a little ticked off. They interrupted my almost finishing House of Stairs for this crap? I didn’t think I could “catch” anything except gross boy cooties!
The tour ended with me being made to hug Harold while being applauded for my learning that a valuable lesson about tolerance.
I’m not saying the teachers were totally in the wrong. I mean, good for them for trying to “teach a valuable lesson”, but couldn’t they have just asked me why I freaked out and wiped my mouth instead of assuming the worst?
So there. I’ve set the record straight. If any of those teachers from Eastridge Elementary in the 80’s read this, know that I was not some jerky kid who hated people because they were different than me. Unless they were different because they were a boy. Then yes, I hated them and all of the cooties they were crawling with.