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Thoughts For Thursday: 10 Bad Elementary School Memories

May 12, 2011 · 32 comments

in Thoughts For Thursday

Last night, I was at my youngest son’s choir performance at school when I suddenly had a memory flash from my grade school days. I decided at that moment I had to write a post about those memories.  Maybe writing these recollections down will purge them from my brain, but I doubt it…

So here are 10 bad memories from my grade school years:

  1. Falling down the fire escape: I think I was 10 years old, and the fire alarm went off.  Our classroom had a fire escape just outside one of the doors, so we got to use the cool fire escape for drills.  Well, I was trotting down the stairs and slipped.  Next thing I know, I am bouncing down the fire escape stairs.  It was quite embarrassing, but also pretty darn painful.
  2. The Felt Board: My friend and I were working on fractions in third grade using a felt board where we could attach different felt shapes and numbers to.  I don’t know what we did wrong, but the teacher ran over to us and said “It will be a cold day in hell before you two can use the felt board again”.    I still love that quote.  Plus, she was right- I still haven’t used a felt board, and it has been 35 years since the incident.  I wonder, if hell does suddenly become chilly, will a felt board suddenly show up with geometric shapes for me to apply?
  3. The Bathroom: I was in kindergarten, and there was a fire drill.  (Our school obviously loved fire drills.)  There was a little bathroom inside the classroom, and I was in it when the alarm went off.  I panicked and couldn’t open the big door to get out of the bathroom.  I finally did get out, but the class was already gone and I had to catch up to all the kids.  I was so scared.
  4. The Suspension: I was in 6th grade, and the lunch lady monitoring our class barely spoke English.  I was sitting at my desk taking apart my new mechanical pencil, and ended up with lead all my fingers.  I asked if I could run to the bathroom to wash my hands, and I thought she said yes.  I went to the girl’s bathroom, and a friend of mine and two boys also showed up in the bathroom.  I was honestly just washing my hands, but that same lunch lady came in and found the four of us in the bathroom.  We all got sent to the principal’s office and got suspended.  The lunch lady said she never gave me permission to leave the classroom.  If that were the case, why did she let me leave?  She saw me go and didn’t say a word.  I still think she is a liar.  At least the principal let me finish my pudding before sending me home.
  5. Head Down, Face Covered: The common punishment for bad behavior was to make the students put their heads on their desk/table, face down.  I used to hate that punishment because quite often, one of the teachers would patrol around the classroom to make sure you hadn’t positioned yourself so that your face was down, but with just your forehead on the desk.  (Made breathing much easier when your face wasn’t flush against the desk.)  If this teacher saw you just had your forehead on the desk, he would kick your chair in, which would result in smashing your nose against the table, and it would scare you half to death.  One day we had this punishment repeatedly.  I peeked my head up and saw the teacher just sitting there reading “The Thorn Birds”.  I really think she issued this punishment just so she could read.
  6. Choir: I hated choir.  I have never been a good singer, and I wasn’t a fan of changing pitch.  As stupid as this sounds, I thought taking a high or low note meant you were being fake, like you weren’t using your own voice.  So, I just sang flatly with my normal voice.  One day, I was riding in the car with some friends, and everyone was singing, including me.  The mom driving the car turned around and said to me “you really have a terrible voice”.  That was the last time I ever sang in public again.  Well, I have sung in front of my kids, but not much since they have gotten older.
  7. Milk With Paper Straws: In kindergarten, we got a snack break every day.  Part of that snack was we would each get a little carton of milk.  This milk was always slightly warm, and you had to drink it with this little paper straw that got all soggy instantly.  I can still almost taste that milk in my mind, and the thought makes my stomach churn.
  8. Glasses: I ended up getting eyeglasses right before picture day in kindergarten.  I was the only kid with glasses, and glasses were not cool at all back in 1972.  What was awful besides the constant teasing is that I broke my glasses quite frequently.  (They were even chopped up by a lawn mower once.)  Since there was no such thing as ‘one hour glasses’, you had to wait at least a week for new glasses to be made  at whatever magical place manufactured them.  During those weeks that I didn’t have good eyesight, I would have to sit at a desk right next to the board.  I much preferred sitting in the back of the class, where I could get away with talking a little bit easier.
  9. Tornado Drills: I loved tornado watches as  a kid.  Whenever there was a tornado watch, the kids would all get sent home, which is kind of insane now that I think about it.   The weather would be so nice and warm, I have great memories of walking home feeling so free during tornado watches.  Tornado Warnings were a bummer though, as were tornado drills.  Our school was a giant old brick building.  When there was a tornado warning, you would get sent down to the basement, sit on the floor, and contort yourself into a position that would protect your head.  It was so dirty in that basement, plus the boiler was right there.  I never felt safe near that boiler, and I always hoped a tornado wouldn’t come through and make that boiler explode.
  10. Anything To Do With Chalkboards: I hate chalk, and I hate chalkboards.  Obviously, everyone hates the nails on the chalkboard thing.  However, I don’t like the smell of chalk at all.  Smacking those erasers to get the chalk out was an awful task.  Life got much better when the school bought a little machine you could put the eraser on and it would suck the chalk out of it.  What I disliked even more was washing the chalkboard with a bucket of water and a sponge.  I was always too short to reach the top, and I despised the smell of water and chalk together.  I still get chills thinking about that.

I could go on and on about elementary school memories.  In a later post, I will share my good memories of elementary school. (Unless you tell me in the comments that you don’t care and you don’t want to hear about my memories anymore.)

What about you, do you have any interesting memories from grade school?

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