Two Ways About It

27 Jun
GDR "village teacher" (a teacher tea...

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When I was in sixth grade, I learned one of the greatest lessons in life – the hard way.

Our teacher had given us a writing assignment, I forget what it was exactly, but something to the effect of writing a few examples of something we had just learned. I loved writing, even back then, and I finished the assignment very quickly, I raised my hand.

“I’m done,” I called out. My teacher smiled at me,

“Why don’t you try writing a few more examples,” she suggested. I shrugged my shoulders,

“Can’t, my brain had enough for today.” My teacher looked at me eyebrows raised,

“Why don’t you try rephrasing, and saying that a little more nicely.”  She chastised gently. She had a point, I could have said it more appropriately, she was my teacher, not my friend. I drew in a breathe and rephrased,

“I don’t think I can do it.”

Suddenly my teachers warm eyes stormed over. Her mouth started to set, and she looked at me menacingly.

“What did you say?” she asked harshly. Not understanding what brought about her abrupt change I repeated myself, “I don’t think I can.”

“Such chutzpah,” she hissed. “Please leave my class.” I was in shock, and bewildered, I didn’t get what just happened, so I just sat there, unsure.

“Leave.” She repeated harshly. Well, I was a good girl who listened to my teachers, so I left.

I stood in the hallway, right outside the door pacing in small strides. I was hurt, embarrassed, confused and scared. I couldn’t make sense of what had just occurred. I decided to hide away in the bathroom, so as to avoid even more trouble if the principal, who’s office was next door to my classroom, found me.

The bathroom smelled of grey coarse toilet paper, and syrupy pink soap. secluding myself in the corner largest stall, I flipped the toilet seat cover down, sat, and went through the entire interaction in my head, again. And again. Nothing seemed clear, to make sense, it whole thing was as nonsensical as ever.

I heard the bell ring for a ten minute recess, and a changing of the teachers, and in my stall I stayed, thinking it through, just one more time.  The time was running out, and my thoughts were running faster, confusion, indignation, elucidation, the bell in my mind rang in unison with the recess bell. I finally understood, what had been a big misunderstanding.

The rest of the day went by uneventfully, and the next day in that teacher’s class, we both pretended nothing had happened the previous day. But I never forgot, and I always remember, not the story, but the lesson.


Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Memoir


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7 responses to “Two Ways About It

  1. nmf #7

    June 28, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Can I be a bit lost? I still don’t get it. (My brain may be off today, as well.)

    • Trivka

      June 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Her teacher thought she was saying that she can’t rephrase what she just said in a nicer way- meanwhile she was saying it in a nicer way then the first time when she said “Can’t, my brain had enough for today” now she was saying ” I dont think I can do it”- get it now?!?!

      Sporadic- i LOVE when you bring back good old elementry memories

  2. Frayda

    June 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Did you go to Yeshiva of Brooklyn? That is exactly how I remember the bathrooms?

  3. Princess Lea

    June 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I have a story like that, although there was no moral.

    4th grade. I loved my English teacher, and I thought she loved me. Suddenly, one day, she starts screaming at me that I finish my worksheets in class too quickly and then I look bored. “It’s not my job to entertain you!” It came out of nowhere. I wasn’t bored, and I certainly didn’t think I looked it.

    The trauma is still with me. Although I think she’s long dead.

  4. nmf #7

    June 29, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Thanks for the translation.

  5. TooYoungToTeach

    June 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t go to YOB. I think all school bathrooms would fit my description 🙂

  6. bad4shidduchim

    July 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    That’s awesome.


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