Standardized testing in elementary school revealed that I was reading and comprehending years ahead of my age group when I was still in first grade. Notice: I did not say anything about math. Math was (and still is) a skill that requires me to take my shoes and socks off. LOL
I did not attend kindergarten. Back in the dark ages (the 60’s), kindergarten was not yet mandatory. For this reason (not having attended kindergarten) the teachers felt that my test results were remarkable. Especially given the fact that I’d missed the majority of days in the school term that year. I was absent almost weekly with horrible asthma attacks.
The principal and my first grade teacher contacted my mother and asked her to come to the school for a conference.
During that conference, they asked for her for permission to promote me directly into the 4th grade for the next school year. Their rationale was they feared that if I stayed with my own age group that I would become bored and consequently ‘fall to the level of the other kids’.
They felt that I needed to be challenged—kept in a more stimulating academic environment.
I’ll Have None Of That … But Thank You Very Much For The Offer
Well, I wanted nothing to do with that cockamamie plan! I was essentially used to being raised as an only child, so I saw myself as a mini-adult. I did have two older brothers—nine and eleven years my senior—but they didn’t live at home any more. Consequently, my home life was a world of being only with adults. I was a bit lacking in age appropriate socialization and being a kid.
Once I got a taste of school, I loved it. Woo hoo! I’d found a tribe. I enjoyed being in the thick of things and being around so many other kids every day. I’d already connected with my cohort, and frankly—I wasn’t interested in engaging another group.
It was at that time [when the possibility of being moved from the comfort zone of my reference group came to my attention] that my very stubborn German heritage and offended sense of autonomy first became challenged.
In other words, this was when my very ‘fixed’ nature first reared its ugly head. I very much appreciated their lovely offer, but I was enjoying my cohort and newly found friends. I was perfectly comfortable just where I was; I saw no need to make a change.
I still remember the warm rush of adrenaline and swell of indignation that welled up within me at the very idea of being ‘made’ to do something I had not chosen on my own. Uh oh … do y’all see those angels in the background with the shovels stoking the coals in the fiery furnace?
Don’t Make Me Go To Plan B
So, Little Miss Sassy Pants here issued a quiet (but firm) ultimatum that I, in my wet-behind-the-ears stage of development thought to be quite reasonable.
It went like this … I explained that if they proceeded to take me away from the class where I had become so comfortable, then I would comply—but only until after I got off the school bus—at which time I would promptly leave the school and run away.
I said this when I six years old, mind you!
What’s In You Comes Out
Looking at it now, I see that my quiet-but-fixed will of iron (compounded by my desire to only comply with changes only if I had chosen them) was a foreboding shadow of things to come.
The ghosts of some trials yet to come, if you will.
Were I a cartoonist illustrating this scene for a children’s book, the caption labeling this very early frame of the storyboard would definitely read ‘Let the beatings begin ...’
Well, I did not think the girl
Could be so cruel
And I’m never going back
To my old school
Songwriters: Donald Jay Fagen / Walter Carl Becker
My Old School lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group