I Have Been There
As a child I loved to be first. I arrived last in my family order but rather in the middle of the grandchildren; nothing special. Always through school the teachers were confusing me with my siblings and making comparisons.
My siblings had great difficulty learning to read. I must be an idiot – savant because I was reading way ahead of my time and cognitively interpreting what I was reading, often ahead of the teachers. I could not understand or use numbers – there was no word for Dyscalcula – so I was labeled lazy.
And in second grade, I was labeled a liar for my writing and reading skill. I had to explain that in Graduate School.
I liked to go first to share my homework. Such as in Junior High I was instructed to write a poem that fit into a specific meter and phrasing. I did not understand the lesson and got the rhythm backward. By going first and having the kids laugh at my poem and the teacher explain the turn around, I was given a second chance to write the poem and thus get the better grade. I also got to listen to the other folk’s attempts and figure out it was the way “Casey at the Bat” was written and I had a working example.
I was making a choice to go first to show my enthusiasm for the subject and gain clarification and usually a second chance. In Math class, I lived in fear of being called upon and that laughter was instructive in a different way.
The 10 years I was in Girl Scouts I was never elected to an office. I really did not care, even though it was hurtful, because I loved learning all the skills and about nature and camping. There was a balance.
My parents were Immigrants and foreigners. I was born in the USA. We were not numerous enough to have individual groups or colonies so the Italians, Israelis’, Africans, English, Canadians, Germans, Swedes and Asian folks gathered together as friends and extended families. We had our disagreements and we celebrated our diversity. It was a learning soup.
And I could sing.
Every year of college I experienced a Professor who wanted to “take me on”. Mostly I had to endure some kind of humiliation and then when I acknowledged this action, I was set free with the lecture that this was an important life lesson they had given me.
In Graduate school, being one of the first was a night mare. I lay low and just kept moving through the system. I am indebted to the one BLACK professor who took me aside and gave me dozens of books on black history and literature to read and then let me talk to him for hours about what I was learning and understanding.
Being first in my first church, which was liberal and educated and way ahead of others in taking on Buddhist teachings and issues of Gay Rights, it was a daily battle to keep on keeping on. Several set up their verbal children to make attacks during my leading of worship. Undercover many wrote letters to my LEADER that I was just not smart enough to work with this group of people. The Grand Pooh bah of the Church called me a “Bitch” in meetings and sent others to participate in my Ordination -he did not want to lend his authority.
Other women were in competition and attempting to hold their own.
My years in the Southern part of the United States, I saw classism and racism out in the open and right before my very eyes. On voter registration days, I saw a friend being set upon by dogs.
I heard Anita Hill at the Confirmation Hearings for Justice Thomas. I believed her and still do.
I see ageism and I recognize it – inside first.
My youngest child still wishes she was blond haired and blue eyed – daily. Though her Hispanic friend is helping my child to like herself just as she is today; I am grateful.
The speech to the children at the start of school was like a warning siren. Blogger for Hire at Mom Grind wrote about it…
I do not care who you are and what power you perceive you have, you make only one point when you are rude, noisy, and inappropriate in your behavior – you are ignorant. The President of the United States spoke to the Congress and to the people last night and I am ashamed by the inappropriate behavior and tactical maneuvering to humiliate and belittle The President and The Office.
I am not the first to say so and I believe I will not be the last. No apology is big enough to undo the nasty behavior you displayed last evening – your behavior was disgusting and reprehensible.
The good news is probably most of the folks in your rude camp were tuned into a ball game and couldn’t waste time on a speech and that I am sure smart parents of every persuasion are teaching their children about respect, decent behaviors, and how horrible people can be one to another. We seem to be getting a great many opportunities these days to explain to our children.
I have been there. I saw my local representative in the group being disgusting and rude, I know he will never read this, but I understand he had over 4,000 emails and faxes this morning from local people demanding a public apology! I wrote to him myself.
What do you wish to teach your children? Do you understand what is going on? Have you been there?
It is such an opportunity to teach and learn.
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