A Childish Tale of Confusion, Fear, and Humiliation

Sometimes I got things confused and it got me in trouble. Once my second grade teacher, Ms. Rotch, got really mad at the class and wrote on the board in big letters “I will obey Ms. Rotch.” She instructed a couple of the boys they were to write it twenty-five times during recess. I wiggled in my desk and stretched my arm high into the air waving it to and fro like a flag in the wind. You see I thought the word obey meant to do bad things, and I was certain Ms. Rotch would be ever so impressed with my intelligence at catching her mistake. When she called on me I asked,” Don’t you mean not obey instead of obey?” “OK, Miss Smarty Pants, you’ll be staying in with the boys and writing it twenty-five times as well!” My face burned as I held my breath to keep from bursting into tears. I was flabbergasted that she was not thankful for my trying to save her from such embarrassment of having the boys write the wrong sentence. I struggled to keep myself from adding “not” as I pushed my pencil hard into the lined paper, punching through to the wooden desk once or twice.

I went outside when I finally finished writing those twenty-five sentences. All the kids crowded around me. They wanted to know why I challenged her. None of them believed I didn’t understand the definition of obey. I felt really stupid. I suddenly wished it had been a word used in my household. My parents didn’t need a word or instructions since they had mastered the evil eye. I decided then that in addition to the glare, pursed lips and smacking hands were not acceptable forms of communication in the real world.

On the other hand, the boys in my class thought I was badass for talking back. From that day on, Ms. Rotch had it out for me. I was afraid to raise my hand to answer a question or to ask her for anything. From that moment on, I only spoke to her when she addressed me. In fact, I was petrified to look at her for I just knew those smoking lines around her lizard lips were actually a grimace in distaste for me. The days her long brown hair was on the frizzy side, I secretly knew she’d ridden her broom to school.

One day we were on the black top playing kick ball, and I had to go to the bathroom really badly.  I was afraid to ask Ms. Rotch for permission. I could already hear her yelling that I should have gone during lunch break. I got to the point of twisting one skinny leg over the other in an effort to hold it in as I was manning second base. I felt like my insides were going to burst so I waddled over to Ms. Rotch and whispered that I need to use the restroom. Her brown eyes burned through me as she said, “Well, you should have gone during lunch. You’re not going in there just to play around!”

I scooted back to second base, sucked my insides in, held my breath, and watched the ball soar past me. She asked what was wrong with me. I told her a second time I needed to be excused to the restroom. She lit into me again. I was on fire inside and out but didn’t dare ask a third time nor did I have the nerve to just go inside. About the same time the tears streamed from my eyes, I felt all that warm liquid gush through my pants. My brown slacks clung to my legs, and my feet stuck to the ground. I was rooted like a tree trunk. Someone looked down to see the puddle at my feet and tattled that I’d peed my pants. I wanted to die right then and there. Ms. Rotch screamed, “You big baby, what’d you wet your pants for? Get in that girl’s room and clean yourself up now!”

Somehow I managed to make my way around the back side of the school to the girls bathroom. I pulled those abrasive brown paper towels from the wall dispenser, placed them in the hollow of the white stone basin, and let the water from the faucet pour over them. I wrung them out and turned the knob to grind the soap onto the heap of towels. I lathered it with my trembling fingers and ran them across my pants legs making white patches against the brown. I took wads of dry paper towels and rubbed as hard as I could to dry them. I don’t know whether I was more worried about smelling like pee or my pants looking wet. A girl came in while I was cleaning up and asked me why I didn’t just go. I told her I was afraid I’d get in trouble. We agreed Ms. Rotch was a monster.

Class had started by the time I finished cleaning myself. I returned to snickering and pointing. I sunk low in my desk and prayed for my pants to dry before I got on the school bus. I feared my cousin would tell my aunt who’d then tell my mama. I don’t know if I was more afraid of getting in trouble at home or the wrath of Ms. Rotch if my mama came to the school and let her have it.

I got called a baby and pee pee pants for a good week or so, or at least until someone else did something equally humiliating. Needless to say, I disliked Ms. Rotch with great passion from that day on. Fortunately time marches on and soothes wounds; we often find the one thing that disgraced us most in life is usually remembered only by ourselves.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

**Another reason Ms. Rotch might not have liked me much is because of this.

Living in the Gap

February 17, 2012 – Happy chaos

The sound of the television drifts into the background as the laughter of toddlers echo through the house. Tiny feet run across the floor and their hands slam into the wall… laughter soars to the ceiling. The babbling of babies is like the steady drumbeat to their rowdy symphony. The dog throws in her part by scratching at the door. The doorbell rings and all wait in silent wonder.

29 thoughts on “A Childish Tale of Confusion, Fear, and Humiliation

  1. OMG…what a witch!

    And I love your description of her….

    “I was petrified to look at her for I just knew those smoking lines around her lizard lips were actually a grimace in distaste for me. The days her long brown hair was on the frizzy side, I secretly knew she’d ridden her broom to school.”

    Reading this post instantly reminded me of my own school days and similar things that happened to not only me, but my other classmates (not being allowed to use the restroom). I was quite often humiliated and embarrassed in front of my classmates. I attended Catholic school, therefore strict and irrational discipline was always being enforced.

    Have a great weekend, my friend!


  2. The Rotched woman should never have been placed in a position as a teacher. She obviously hadn’t a clue.
    It is really sad that children usually don’t mention incidents like this to parents. If that had happened to one of my girls and I had come to hear of it, I would have been in the Principal’s office with smoke coming out of my ears the minute school opened the next day.

  3. Ms. Rotch owes you an apology, SuziCate. What a perfect example of how not to be a teacher.

    I went back to your story about the modernized Snow White. What a HOOT!! And yes, I also loved Cindy’s comment!

    • She is not one I’d have wanted to teach my children. My youngest had a horrible first grade teacher…she had taught 8th grade for about ten years and then swapped to first grade,not a good match for small eager children.

  4. What a wretched thing to have to endure in second grade (or any time, for that matter!). I know you’ve probably forgiven this woman in your heart (you seem kind-hearted that way!), but truly, there must be a special place in Hell for someone this abusive. And, if she mistreated you, she probably mistreated Lots of other poor kids, too. Sad, sad thing.

  5. As an adult I often look back on some of the actions of my teachers and I realize that there were not superheros I had thought. They were just ordinary men and women, so I see some of the things differently. I wonder what wretched things were going on in this woman’s life that she was such a horrible person to a little girl. I wonder how awful her life must have been. I imagine that she was a very, extremely unhappy woman.

      • As well, you shouldn’t have. At seven it is none of your business the world of the adults, children should be able to concentrate on “kid things”. I am not making excuses for her unacceptable behavior. I do not believe anyone should restrict anyone from using the restroom. And a teacher should not treat children that way. But as an adult when I look back sometimes I find myself thinking, “Oooooo. Maybe THAT was what that was all about!”

  6. What a nasty woman. My kindergarten teacher was pretty terrible too. The first week of school some kid tried to snatch a toy from my hands and when I let go he whacked himself in the face with it. He cried, and she was sure I’d hit him, even though I swore I hadn’t. I got a spanking for hitting and lying, and the rest of the year that was it. I got at least a spanking a week after that! I’ve been a teacher, so I know how hard it can be to always know everything that goes on when your back is turned, but I also know it’s possible to treat kids fairly and not hold things against them. Sadly, not all teachers do that and kids suffer for it.

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