Friday, July 11, 2014

Instead of saying how much you hated your fourth grade teacher, why don't you stop to consider how big of an asshole YOU were in fourth grade?

So I saw something on Facebook that got my gears grinding.

A friend of mine posted a Throwback Thursday photo from grade school. It was a 4th grade class picture. This is not the grade school that I went to, but it was a grade school that fed into my high school, and this is how I know the person who posted the photo.

I posted a pithy comment about a girl in the picture who was wearing a delightfully '80s poofy and pink dress. That was pretty much where I meant to leave things, particularly since I really only knew about two people in the photograph.

But then a classmate in the picture (whom I don't know) made the following comment, in reference to the teacher who taught their class: "Anyone remember when she yelled at us for not playing with Xxxx?" (I'm removing the names of people here, with respect to those involved.)

Now, I happen to know Xxxx. He's one of the two people I recognize in the photo. And Xxxx is a great person. I was friends with Xxxx in high school, after high school, and to this present day, despite a great geographic distance. Xxxx comes back to town every now and again, and Xxxx is always a delight to see!

More commentators mentioned how mean and awful the teacher was. For instance, calling one kid a little jerk. Now, that might not be appropriate for a teacher to tell a kid, but since he was 9 or 10, I bet he was being a little jerk.

But I digress.

Going back to Xxxx.

The commentators go on at some length about how their teacher was a horrible person. Made them hate math, was a "crusty bitch" who hated her job and the kids... I can't speak to any of this personally, as I didn't go to that school, and I don't know the teacher.

But the comment that stuck with me was the one about Xxxx, and her yelling at the kids for not playing with Xxxx at recess.

You know what? Maybe she was trying, albeit ineffectively, to combat some bullying that she was seeing going on. If that's the case, then she was trying to do a shit-ton more than what most of my teachers did in grade school and middle school.

Grade school and middle school is pure and utter hell. Kids at that age aren't even human, and they certainly like to pick on other kids that are different or don't fit in. Maybe this teacher was actually trying to do something positive about, rather than just blithely ignore it, like most teachers did back then.

Most of all, this person's comment just drives home a very important idea to me. Bullies never become self-aware enough to acknowledge that they were bullies. That makes me very sad.

Because deep down, I held onto this hope that the people who made my life hell in middle school hold at least an ounce of regret about it. But now... I just don't know.

I'm 33 years old, and I still randomly think about the abuse I was subjected to, and probably Xxxx does to. It has, at least in small part, shaped who I am.

Worse yet, the person who made this comment about Xxxx and that teacher? She later reveals that she's an educator. That sickens me.

I worry about my son, and for when he enters school. At least back when we were kids, we could go home to a safe place, far away from the bullies. Nowadays, kids can't escape it because of social media.