25 August 2011

Ten Reasons to Be Glad I'm Done With School

Ahhh those long-ago school days.
Not for me a High School Musical experience. No cheerleaders. No pep rallies.
I was more like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. You know, Josie Grossie.
The New Zealand version.

You see
I was a nerd.

Complete with thick glasses, bad mother-cut hair and hand-me-down clothes.
I didn't begin life as an outcast. My nerdy-ness developed as school progressed. In fact you could say that school itself was the pressure cooker that revealed my Inner Nerd, leaving me friendless, shy, brainy, bookish and wearing glasses {although I can't really blame school for the glasses, that's just bad genes}.

But even nerd-ship aside, there's a bunch of reasons why school sucked and I'm glad those days are gone.

Here's my Top Ten Reasons I'm Glad I'm Done with School...

New Zealand Grades in the 70's and 80's
Primary School = age 5-10; Primer 1-4; Standard 1-4
Intermediate School = Age 11-12; Form 1-2
High School = Age 13-18; Form 3-7

Reason #1: Leaving Behind my Nerd Status
Out in the big wide world nobody knows I'm a nerd. There is no "in-crowd" to be left out of, I can just be accepted for my wonderful self... wahoo! Hey, can I come hang out with YOU? You there, with the huge blog-following... can I come sit by you at lunch...? I'll just polish my specs and then I'll be right over...

Reason #2: Embarrassing Health Talks
Remember those? Brand new Form One girls having to sit through The Talk. And not just the one from your mum either. The one with the Deputy Principal, the diagrams and the film. "Your Changing Body" or something. The way the Form Two girls blushed while us little girls fresh from primary school tittered. But just wait girls, next year its your turn to blush.

Reason #3: Puberty Blues
Puberty sucked, didn't it? All that anxiety about whether your boobs would always be one bigger than the other. The embarrassment of being a nine year old girl with boobs on swimming day {not actually me, but a poor girl in my Std3 class who waited til we were all gone before she'd get dressed.}Wondering if you would ever get your period and when would it come {hopefully not in the middle of science class}...?

Reason #4: The Inconvenient Crimson Tide
The embarrassment of getting your period in the middle of science class. The shame of fainting in the hallway on a pile of schoolbags when you got bad cramps. Your mum refusing to let you stay home from school because having a period is not the same as being sick. Your P.E. teacher refusing to let you out of P.E. because having a period is not the same as having a broken leg.

Reason #5: P.E. Hell
I know most normal kids loved P.E. but I was a nerd, remember?
Worst teacher of all, scary Sergeant Major Miss Critchley, in Third Form. She was sixty-ish and still going strong, marching the hallways with her spiky grey hair and piercing eyes.

Nothing short of a broken leg would excuse you from having to participate. And those awful romper shorts we had to wear! So embarrassing. I'm sure it was the uniforms that started my loathe-hate relationship with physical activity. By the time my parents caved and bought me the regulation track pants, it was too late. P.E. had forever put me off running and jumping... and shorts.

{P.E. = Physical Education; also called Phys Ed}

Oh dear. Check out that spelling. Someone needs to go back to High School...
Reason #6: Sucky Science
Not just because of that embarrassing incident in third form science. I liked Biology well enough. But Physics = snore. As for Chemistry and that darn periodic table... I learnt it alright, but now I can't forget it - though what use it has ever been in my adult life I can't tell you.

That little rhyme we learnt to help us remember: "How he likes beer by cupfuls not over-flowing. Nervous Nana made all silly people stop clicking around Kate's car..."

Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron...
See! I still remember it nearly thirty years later.
It did not help that my bearded science teacher wore walk-shorts, with socks... and sandals.

Reason #7: Useless Maths
Oh mathematics, where are you now?
Where in my life is the trigonometry, algebra, matrices? Oh quadratic equations, what have you ever done for me other than given me a headache while I tried to figure you out?
Teach me times tables, yes. Teach me to handle money, the principles of good finance, by all means. These skills I can use.
Any day with maths on the timetable was a bad day. Maths was the bane of my education, yet still, I passed all my exams and took it all the way to sixth form. But now I look back and ask, why?

Reason #8: Ugly School Uniforms
I have worn my fair share of ugly uniforms, given that my family moved around a lot.
Four different school uniforms I had to endure, each more ugly than the last.
Bought two sizes too big, "with room to grow" of course.
What started out flapping like a tent in a hurricane with all the spare room, was bursting at the seams by the time we moved on. After all, these were the days of "puberty" and "changing bodies".

Hideous, these uniforms were. Designed to make even the most comely of teenage figures look like a sack of spuds. I guess this was some kind of twisted attempt to dampen the flames of passion in the teenage boys we shared classes with.

The cool girls did their best to turn ugly into stylie, turning up their regulation hems and pushing down their regulation {oatmeal coloured} knee length socks.
But watch out if Miss Critchley was on duty at lunch time. She marched around with her ruler, and would make you kneel so she could measure your skirt, make sure it was the regulation length.
"Pull up your socks!" she would bark, and dish out detentions if she was having a bad day.
 Ahhh yes, glad to see the back of ugly school uniforms.

{NOTE: Most Intermediate & High schools in NZ wear Uniform}

Reason #9: Detention
What, a nerd in detention?
Ah yes. In my attempts to fit in and adjust my permanent nerd-status a little, I too pushed my socks down and rolled my skirt over at the waistband. I was trying to look normal.
But Miss Critchley spotted me on a bad day.
Next thing I knew I was sanding desks outside the principal's office.
Where everyone who passed by could point and laugh.
Detention was nothing like The Breakfast Club at my school.

Reason #10: Bullies
Bullies are what killed school for me. I wouldn't have minded being a simple no-mates-nerd if only the bullies could have left me alone.
See, my parents moved around a lot. Ten schools I went to. That was OK at primary school, but when we moved away from Auckland to the forestry town of Tokoroa, I was in trouble. They didn't like Aucklanders there, and I remember once when the teacher left the room, the class gathered around singing, "Auckland is a dump and so are you-ou..."
A dumb song, it didn't even make sense, but it still hurt. I was ten.

Worse was yet to come when we moved up to Intermediate school, the following year.
I was put in a class with the meanest girls in the school, with not one single person I knew from my Primary school.
The girls were rough and scary. Some of them ended up in the Black Power gang, I heard later.
These girls would take kids they didn't like around the back of the bike sheds and give them "the bash."
But before I knew all that I tried to make friends.
I looked out for other kids who knew nobody and made an effort to befriend them.

Too bad those other new girls turned on me... after I'd confided that my dad was a pastor. They shared this fact with the rest of the class who would gather round me bowing and singing hallelujah and saying, "Ha! Your dad wears a long black robe..!"
I tried to ignore them, I really did.
I just took my book outside and read by myself.
But they wouldn't leave me alone. They kept at me til they made me cry.
They'd push my head down into the book. They chased me with dead wetas*...
I should be glad they didn't give me the bash, but the meanness and exclusion and taunting was enough.
And so began my days as a nerd. Friendless, bookish, shy, nervous, wearing very ugly glasses.
I lost my confidence and it took years for me to find it again.

{*Weta = a very big ugly bug native to New Zealand}

I hate bullies. Bullying and meanness of any kind turns my stomach.
Bullies are weak, cowardly and insecure. They take out their problems on those who can't defend themselves to make themselves look bigger and feel better .
But when you're a kid you don't know that.
You think they're picking on you because there's something wrong with you.

Now, I wonder where those girls are. I wonder what they're doing with their lives and if they remember me, that scared lonely pastor's kid they once picked on.
And I wonder what they tell their kids about bullying.

Well. I didn't see that coming.
There I was writing a funny post for Writers Workshop and out poured all that other stuff.
See why I like blogging?
Better (and cheaper) than therapy.

My Ten Schools:
1975: St Annes Catholic School, Manurewa, South Auckland
1976: St Josephs Catholic School, Grey Lynn, Auckland
1977: Pt Chevalier Primary, Pt Chev Auckland
1978: Titirangi Primary (three months)
1978-1980 Sunnyvale Primary, West Auckland
1980: Tokoroa North Primary, Tokoroa (6 months)
1981-1982: Tokoroa Intermediate
1983-1984: Forest View High School, Tokoroa
1985: Spotswood College, New Plymouth (three months)
1985-1986: Inglewood High School, Taranaki

How were your school days?
Were you a nerd, a cool kid or something in between?

For Mama Kat's Pretty Much World-Famous Writers Workshop. Writing Prompt #5: Top Ten reasons why you're glad you're done with school... also linking up with Shell's Pour Your Heart Out {since I ended up Pouring out my Heart}

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Cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birdie said...

I was fortunate to live in the same small community growing up. I was picked on in elementary school by one boy who last I heard has fried his brain on drugs, well known to police and living on the streets.
When I got to high school there were a group of mean girls that made lives miserable. They bullied a lot of people. I still live in the same community and a few of them have turned their lives around but the meanest ones are still just as awful.

I feel sad that you were bullied. You were a beautiful little girl.

Rae Ann said...

I am so sorry that school was such a miserable experience for you. I moved around, too, as a military kid, but I always had other military kids around to befriend me.

I was never in a group that was overtly picked on, but neither was I in the popular crowd. My brainy friends and I used to joke that we had a 'social disease' that kept us from those lofty heights. Of course, the joke is on them: my brainy friends and I went on to good colleges and careers. The popular kids? Who knows.

Lyn said...

oh as as teacher this just really gets to me when I read stuff like this. Not many adults I've spoken to can tell me anything positive they remember about their primary school days now. I think thats sad - but I'd have to say the same is true for me. I wasn't bullied like you, it just was never all that fun being there :-(

Lyns said...

Yip so not wanting to go back to the High School days!
I did have some fun in amongst the awkwardness of it all. Learnt lots. Rebelled, bunked...left in 6th form.
Bullies suck. Sorry you were bullied. Glad you got your confidence back.

Ange (Tall, Short and Tiny) said...

I was a nerd at school too, but as my dad was deputy principal at my primary school, I was left alone. At intermediate I had my first experience of bullying by a gang of girls...led by the DP's daughter.
It was surprising to me, as I didn't expect kids could be like that with each other.
At high school, I faded into the background - not cool, and not nerdy enough to be picked on.
I'm sorry you experienced all of this. Bullies ARE weak, cowardly and insecure - as children and as adults - and it takes a strong person to not let it define them xx

PaisleyJade said...

You are such a great writer! Why o why did the teachers all wear sock and sandals and strange shorts? Yep, I had my fair share of bullying - the glasses and braces didn't help. I was soooo glad to leave school!!! p.s. although maths was my favourite subject!

Leonie said...

I was a nerd too - but I loved school and would LOVE to go back there! Yes I was bullied and excluded but somehow I never stopped waiting for holidays to be over so I could go back to go forth and conquer! Great post, great photo's! PS: someone at Forest View High School needs to learn how to spell... :)

Cat said...

*nerd alert* here I am. I had the bowl haircut (thanks Mum) the homemade clothes (thanks Mum) and was top stream (brain box) -
All I wanted - all I ever wanted was to 'fit in' but I looked in the wrong places, I see that now. Desperate to be part of the 'cool group' I was outcast as not cool enough . . . My parents didn't have a bach in Whangamata and/or we didn't ski or snowboard. Primary was good, Intermediate ok, but High School - I can't/won't go to reunions so scared by the exclusion (a form of bullying) and the name calling.
And oh what you write about Tokoroa - my Mr B has some horrid stories about his schooling in Tokoroa, just horrid. (He lived there until he came to Auckland at 16)
Hugs from one nerd to another xxx

Carolyn K said...

Wow, your IHS photo brings back memories!!

School was a struggle for so many of us then... I didn't move as much as you did, but moving at the beginning of 4th form was hard, especially with all going on in that small community at the time! I think if I could change one thing about my childhood, that would be at/near the top of the list!

Am sure you're making the school years much easier for your own children!

TracyP said...

I was a nerd and hated school. High School was the worst for me. I was frankly glad to be over with it!! It's so true that when you leave school you don't get that same stigma attached to you all the time. I never moved and I only went to 3 different schools, Primary, Intermediate, High School, but it was sad to see the friends I had at Primary school shifted to a 'cooler' crowd at Intermediate and then the friends got fewer at High School. I think for me it was because I didn't go out and party and smoke and drink like the others did. I think at school kids turn ferral lol!
Fantastic post!!

Sophie Slim said...

Dawww - this made me sad to read. Sounds like you had really horrible experiences!!

Someone wrote a post about bullying yesterday and for the life of me I can't remember who it was!! Argh.

I confessed that I was bullied in primary and early highschool, then all of a sudden I got in with the popular girls and I became the bully. I was so terrible!! And I hate hate hate looking back on that short part of life. Funnily, popular kids are mostly superficial and their relationships dont go very deep. A few years later I managed to find myself kicked out with no friends and a whole lot of enemies. I'm glad I did. I actually contacted most people who I hurt and apologised. Including some old teachers. It wasn't physical or anything - but words can affect the rest of someones life, you know?

Great post anyway.

Oh, and my science teacher wore high shorts and sandals too (underneath a white lab coat). Maybe we had the same? Or maybe thats cool in science school..

jacksta said...

wow what a hard life moving around having to make new friends all the time. That would be way to hard!
I enjoyed most of school. Average accidemically but enjoyed the other stuff that went along with it, productions, some sport etc. Its doing that sort of stuff that boosts the confidence. I hope to encourage my kids to do the other interesting stuff that schools offer.

Barbs said...

Simone, what a sad journey you had at school. I'm always a bit jealous of people who have had life long school friends, who went through schooling together and had a great time.

I moved around a bit too (my Dad was a policeman - definitely not cool), and worse got sent to a poncy private school for 4 years (form 1-4)where I did not fit in (my dad did not play golf and we were not members of the tennis club). Although I was not seriously bullied I was excluded and felt like wallpaper, I felt like most people didnt even know I existed.

Emma had a bad year last year with nastiness and exclusion but she now has a nice group of friends. When the nastiness was happening to her it broke my heart and rekindled a lot of sad memories of my school days. But she got through it and we learned a lot about people from it.

I'm hoping that our children will have a better experience than I did at school. One of the reasons we moved from Sth Auckland to the North Shore was for the schooling and so far it has proven to have been the best decision we could have hoped for.

Sophie said...

Ahhh Simoney you had me laughing at the beginning and sad at the end. I was the supernerd at school too - glasses, bookish, shy. I didn't have a real best friend until I was 14 would you believe it! I'm so sorry you had such a horrid time with the bullies. They sound like really rough schools.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post and photos! I loved my school years. Their were 2 boys in primary school who use to be horrible to me and pull up my dresses but mum sorted that out. I use to write my own notes to get out of P.E in mummy style handwriting :) I don't think there were popular and unpopular groups at my schools, they were just groups with similar interests, but all of the groups got along and when it was someone's birthday party/stage challenge/dances all of the groups came together. My sister is a couple of years younger than me and she was bullied all the time by people in her grade. The only bully in high school that I had was my stupid pe teacher who told me I would grow up to be fat because I refused to run with no shoes on the icey ground.

Elizabeth said...

Ahhh - another Tok girl, I tell ya - everyone has a connection to Tok in someway or another!

Sorry you got bullied - I had a bit of that in Primary also, thankfully by High School it wasn't as bad.

Unknown said...

I was a nerd too, joining the club!!!

I also went to lots of schools, i found it very very hard.

Leonie said...

Oh Simone, you are such an awesome writer!! Haha to all those bullies now, if only they could see what an amazing success you are!! And you are the 'cool' of blogging girl!!
I hate to say, I loved school. I went to three different primary schools, then a pretty rough intermediate (which i hated) but a wonderful high school, where I had the most amazing group of friends. I then spent a year in high school in the USA, which I loved.
I was definately 'somewhere in between' with regard to coolness vs nerdiness. I was very academic but fortunately wasn't singled out for it. In saying that, my sister who was two years younger had a completely different experience. I think I was just really lucky with the kids in my class.

Leonie said...

Oh Simone, you are such an awesome writer!! Haha to all those bullies now, if only they could see what an amazing success you are!! And you are the 'cool' of blogging girl!!
I hate to say, I loved school. I went to three different primary schools, then a pretty rough intermediate (which i hated) but a wonderful high school, where I had the most amazing group of friends. I then spent a year in high school in the USA, which I loved.
I was definately 'somewhere in between' with regard to coolness vs nerdiness. I was very academic but fortunately wasn't singled out for it. In saying that, my sister who was two years younger had a completely different experience. I think I was just really lucky with the kids in my class.

Catching the Magic said...

Ten schools! Simone, I read this post and my heart leapt out to you. That's so much for a growing girl to handle and the experiences you write about would scar anyone for a long time after. Thank goodness that's all in the past and right now, in this moment, you are all VERY COOL! YAH! xx

P.S. Amazing collection of photographs! I wonder if my Mum still has mine tucked away as I'd kinda like to show my children how nerdy I looked with braces and zits (bad case of acne caused me grief). Thankfully I had a pretty good experience at my schools and was a social butterfly that was accepted by the 'in crowd' but I was happier being floater on the periphery with a couple of awesome friends that are still close today (well, on e-mail/FB & Skype!). xx

Cat said...

PS: Mr B went to Tokoroa High - he says this wasn't on the good side of town. He was kicked and beaten . . . I read him your story - he said "yup" and nodded - he doesn't talk about life in Tokoroa much

Amanda Putri said...

Hi Simone. Thanks for visiting my blog ^__^

Happy to read your post too. Your pic really awesome. It's great to read ur post while imagining it through your pic ^__^

Rebecca said...

So well written Simoney!!

Thanks for your b e a u t I f u l comment the other day...you've got a way with words! Yep it's my 40th next month!! Wish I lived closer so you could help me decorate it up all pretty...the kids are doing a pretty good job though on those lanterns though xox

Shell said...

Wow, 10 schools! That is crazy!

I'm so glad to be done with all this!

Jen said...

i didnt like PE either

LOVED looking at the photos

I had a run in with the science teacher also my dean when I declared in 5th form I wasnt doing anymore science

maths was like a 2nd language to me by the time I got to high school

I feel for you bullies bullied me from about day 1 they turned me into a loner for years

and wow you sure went to a lot of schools

Laraine Anne Barker said...

I spent 11 years at St Joseph's Convent School, Grey Lynn (February 1950 to November 1960) and I still remember on Saturday, 5 November 1960, after sitting my Senior examination, looking back at the gates and telling myself, "I am never ever going to walk through those gates again." One advantage of being taught by nuns, I guess, is that we didn't get any "sex education", so lessons were never embarrassing. We didn't do fancy stuff like Algebra either, just basic arithmetic. It wasn't until I got married and had to work out which brand of a particular product was cheaper in the supermarket that I realised how useful mental arithmetic was. It's not so useful in today's shopping world, of course. Even Pak'n'Save display the prices per unit or per 100g, or whatever. I didn't mind primary school so much; it was secondary school that got me--maybe because I wasn't bullied in primary school, but I certainly was in secondary.

I got only a partial pass in that senior examination (for English; I wasn't granted a pass in the typing simply because I didn't pass in the shorthand) but I did have the honour of being the only pupil who passed the junior exam. My last year at St Joseph's was also the last year for the secondary part of the school.

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