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reliving childhood trauma - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
estherchaya
estherchaya
reliving childhood trauma
Monday was the Staff Appreciation Lunch at Julian's school, so they recruited parent volunteers to cover cafeteria & recess duty for the lower school, as well as classroom lunch coverage for the nursery school. I, being the loyal parent that I am, volunteered.

Most parents get really pissy if they volunteer, but aren't placed with their child's class, so I was approached very timidly and asked if I would mind not being in the nursery school so that parents with younger children could still volunteer and bring their young ones. "No problem," I said. "Whew!" said the organizer. So, I covered recess. From 12:00-12:30 we had Grades 1, 2, and 3 and from 12:30-1:00, we had Grade 5. I think there were five parents out for each period, though I was the only one out at recess for the whole time (the others covered lunch for half the time and recess for the rest).

Now, see, I have no problem not being in the nursery school, but I had forgotten how much I detest recess. My recess experiences weren't always... pleasant. Actually, let's see... in 1st and 2nd grade, I don't think I had recess (I was living in Spain and I went home for a long lunch, so I think there was no other recess). In 3rd and 4th grade (and half of 5th grade), I can't say I had any particular problem with recess.

But in the 2nd half of fifth grade, we moved to Maryland. This was a difficult move for me because it was the first move I'd had in the middle of a school year. I went from a class with 13 students (12 after I left) to a class with 37 students (38 when I joined). I did most of my work independently because the Connecticut curriculum was pretty far ahead of the Maryland curriculum. So I was in the 6th grade advanced reading class, I did all my math work by myself, teaching myself (with help whenever I felt like I needed it). I was not a popular kid. Recess was absolute torture for me. On the best of days, I was completely peripheral... too unsure of myself to be involved with anyone's kickball game, not assertive enough to get in on someone's tether ball, too scared to go near the jungle gym (large groups of mean people gathered there). I didn't have any friends, no allies, and mostly, I was happy if I could get through a half hour of recess without anyone talking to me, because if someone talked to me, it wasn't going to be to say something nice.

Sixth grade was slightly better because I was at still another school. But mostly, I spent sixth grade recess avoiding the kid who used to yank my ponytails. Hard. Ten years later, he professed his undying love for me, but that's another story. If you'd told me in 6th grade that the red-headed hellion who pulled my hair would be dating me in high school, I probably would have thrown up.

So anyway, recess? Not my favorite time of day. And so, I willingly, voluntarily re-entered the playground for an hour on Monday. And it was every bit as horrible as I remembered. There were five or six other parents and they all knew each other or at least had kids on the playground. I knew no one. I'm terrible at small talk. I don't know how to approach strangers. Even though we had a common goal, we had very little direction or instruction, and I stood, as always, on the periphery, watching the cool kids. I saw the awkward girl by the corner of the playground who was too shy to ask if she could join in the game of jumprope but so clearly wanted to. I saw the boy standing in the middle of the group playing catch, but couldn't quite insert himself into the game. I saw the girls that were just "too mature" to bother with all the kid stuff, who walked as far out on the field as they could get away with. And I watched all the rest of the kids who seemed completely at ease and wondered how they ever managed to achieve that confidence.

Mostly, I counted the seconds until I could leave, not because I didn't want to help, but because I couldn't wait to be off that playground. Heh. I never think of recess really. It's not like it has haunted me for decades. It's just that it didn't take much to trigger those very vivid memories! The absolute best thing about middle school was NO MORE RECESS. The worst thing about middle school was gym class and the dreaded locker room, but that's another story. And I promise I will NEVER volunteer to cover gym class!

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Current Mood: nerdy

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Comments
eyelid From: eyelid Date: May 3rd, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was pretty nerdy and unloved too (mostly in 4th grade - 5th and 6th were better)... but I mostly hated recess because it was cold outside. Who really wants to go outside in freezing MN weather for 1/2 hour? And WHY? I didn't get it then and i don't get it now.

I'd hide in the bathroom or other places until everyone was outside.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
ugh. I'm so glad I'm past that.
eyelid From: eyelid Date: May 4th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude, I was so nerdy that I was voted Bookworm in 8th grade. :D
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah. I was voted something similar.
leahmiriam From: leahmiriam Date: May 3rd, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I empathize with your pain on the playground. While I personally didn't have any huge issues with this, my husband did. One of my plans, when the "time machine" is done, is to travel back and kick the living hell out of a few kids that were utterly cruel to him. I can do the same for you, if you'd like.

I think I will send Joel aka "Shrek" to volunteer on the days it is required of us.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah. Truthfully, I don't think it was always specific people. Often it was my own feeling of awkwardness and anxiety that made it so horrifying for me as a kid.
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estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank G-d for a geeky, musical high school filled with lots of people like me.

True. That's how I avoided the cafeteria for four solid years.
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estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 23rd, 2006 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had plenty of ERS matches in the band room. Though, admittedly, my freshman year I wasn't very good at avoiding the cafeteria. I met a group who didn't mind me sharing their table and who taught me how to play ERS (I can't remember how to play now, actually), so I did venture into the cafeteria for about 4 months of my freshman year. Otherwise, I mostly went in there long enough to buy a drink for my lunch that I would eat down in a practice room.
zis770 From: zis770 Date: May 3rd, 2006 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was rare that I liked recess. I still remember the name of the guy who pulled my pants down in elementary school one time. Lunch wasn't much better either. B"H that's over with!
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I avoided the cafeteria like the plague when I was in high school. I despised the place. Standing in a mass of people looking for a table where there are friendly faces is terrifying.
zis770 From: zis770 Date: May 10th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I forgot to respond. I hated it too. Before in elementary school we got the worst lunch through the school and I would be one of those annoying girls who peered over her friends lunches and asked for some. In high school it was worse. The first year all you could get from the cafeteria (and we had to go and pick up our lunch tickets, I think my mom was getting some sort of deal there) and all they had was greasy food. But then again high school bclal was not my favorite place to begin with.
hannahsarah From: hannahsarah Date: May 4th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, thanks for re-triggering that little bit of PTSD for me. And then you had to go and mention gym! Way to share the misery.

Seriously, I'm feeling your pain in a big way. School was pure hell for me, too. Every single school and every grade I was in, I was by far the LEAST popular person there, or at least tied with the boy who ate his boogers.

I want to go on Jerry Springer and say "You Laughed at Me Then, But I'm a Hottie Now!" :-P
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 4th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's amazing how many people can relate to the anxiety level that one can potentially feel on a playground... or worse! In gym class!

What I've discovered is that even those kids that were shunning me... the "in-crowd"? They were feeling the same anxieties, because they still had the same dynamic within their ranks. I think at some point almost everyone feels peripheral and awkward.
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mysticchyna From: mysticchyna Date: May 7th, 2006 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I was teased and picked on horribly in school. I hated recess.
journeytoernie From: journeytoernie Date: May 8th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
sometimes you're so like me, it's scary!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 23rd, 2006 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Ponytails

I didn't yank your ponytails that hard. And if I recall correctly, they were curls.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: May 23rd, 2006 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ponytails

I didn't have curls until high school.

Who is this??
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 24th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ponytails

Who do you think? If I could get Open ID to verify my site, it would reference http://mattclearing.com or http://sunburnedcountry.com , incidentally.

Greetings, from Adelaide.

Cheers.
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