The Eyelet Shirt

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Like most people, there have been a couple of teachers who have really stuck out for me through the years. A couple were amazing.

My first grade teacher is remembered based solely on the fact that she was my first grade teacher and her name had the word “barn” in it and I’ve always liked barnyard animals.

Come on! It doesn’t take much to impress a first grader!

Another reason she sticks out is because I remember back to being a first grader and I can remember some of the things that I did and said back then and wonder why she didn’t mark me as an “abused” child or a kid who needed to be talked to a bit more. Actually, as I’m typing that I know why I wasn’t ever “marked”; I was excellent at passing. I did my best to please my teachers and not make any waves. I did such a good job that no one ever suspected that anything wonky was happening at home.

One of my teachers from fourth grade sticks out the most-and not for good reasons.

Though my mom is a very jeans and t-shirt kind of gal, for some reason she bought me an eyelet peasant top kind of thing from a trendy store. Truth be told, the shirt was probably made with teenagers and twenty-somethings in mind but I wore that stupid shirt with pride and thought that I looked damn good in it. You had two choices with that shirt. #1 You could wear it off the shoulders so that your stomach didn’t show or #2 you could wear it so that your shoulders were covered but then you had about four inches of midriff catching the breeze.

Since I’ve never been one to show my stomach, I opted for the off-the-shoulder option.

I can literally remember the incident like it was yesterday. My class was at recess and a couple of my classmates came up to me and made the silly school girl noises and asked me if I was wearing my shirt for Rex [he was my “boyfriend”]. For some reason, that taunting ignited something in me and I launched myself at one of the girls and choked her. Yup. Choked her. After an instant, I guess I realized what I was doing because I let her go and spent the entire rest of recess trying to convince her not to “tell.

She did tell.

She told our teacher and after everyone was settled down with their work, I was summoned to the hallway. Mrs. May verbally reamed my ass up one side and down the other [and I totally deserved it] but what she did next is what stays with me. She asked me what in the world I was doing wearing something like that [read that with utter disgust] to school and just who [disgust] did I think I was?

Since I couldn’t stand her being angry with me [even though I strongly disliked her-I’m a pleaser…that’s how I’m wired] I started a long winded account of my teenage step-sister’s pregnancy and how I didn’t want to turn out like her and how I was so, so sorry that I had worn the shirt and that I would never do it again just please, please don’t be angry with me. [Insert lots of snotty sobs]

Instead of realizing that she had pretty much broken me, Mrs. May looked at me with utter contempt and said, “If you keep wearing clothes like that then you’re going to turn-out just like your step-sister”.

Talk about some heady shit to put on a fourth grader’s shoulders.

I don’t think that I ever told my mom. I don’t think that she ever asked why I never wore that shirt again. Looking back, I wish that I had realized that was something that I should have told her. I wish that I had felt able to tell someone about what had happened.

And now, I guess I have.

Image|Rob Shenk