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Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who I Was

I've started substitute teaching on Mark's off days. It works out well for us both; he gets to stay at home with the kids for a few days, and I get to leave the house and make money and talk to teenagers about Perilous!

Yesterday I taught a keyboarding class. The first student in carried a thick, 6 or 700 page New York Times bestelling novel in her hands. She sat down at the computer a few minutes before class started and immediately opened her book. Her frizzy brown hair fell in uncombed waves around her round face. Plastic glasses framed her eyes, which didn't look up from her book until class started. The moment she finished her assignment, she was back in her book. Her long jean skirt and green t-shirt were an incongruous pair that fit poorly on her short, overweight body.

I was drawn to her. I stopped and asked her about her book. to which I received a 1-word response. She didn't like to be interrupted, apparently. The other kids talked and laughed among themselves, and she ignored them as much as they ignored her.

I couldn't believe how like me she was. My college roommates will remember the picture I have from 6th grade, with the t-shirt tucked into my too-tight jeans, the long ratted hair and the thick plastic glasses. I had no idea that I was such an awkward pre-teen, yet I was.

I wanted to take this girl aside and tell her this. Tell her how similar we are. But she didn't need that information; not yet. She had no idea how on the outside she was. Probably next year or the year after, she will realize it, just like I did. And then she'll need the encouragement, the support, someone to tell her that she doesn't have to be like everyone else. That if she's just herself, she'll find her niche. She doesn't need anyone to tell her what she should wear, look like, or be.

I'm out of that stage now. But I remember it.

9 comments:

KarenG said...

That's so sad. Adolescence is such an awful time. I hated it myself.

sarahjayne smythe said...

One of the things I find fascinating about teaching high school is watching my kids come in as freshmen and then literally transform in front of me. But it is a terribly hard transition for so many of them. Self-loathing is beyond painful.

Just wanted to let you know that I was over here following you from Carol's blog.

Simon C. Larter said...

I don't think I'd want to be reminded of myself at that age. Not that the memories are traumatic, per se, just that I don't want to revisit my naivete. Must have been a strange experience for you.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh, I know, Karen! I hated jr. high and high school! The interesting thing about subbing is, though, that I look at them and remember the good times. Yes, there were some! But I forgot about them.

Hi, Sarajayne! Thanks for coming over! It must be so hard for you, to see the hardships they go through. I rememember several teachers that were so kind, reaching out to me. I never thought about how they might be able to see my needs.

You'd be surprised, Simon. It's kind of therapeutic!

Christine Danek said...

I don't even want to think about high school. You are trying to find yourself and all the drama that goes with it.

Dominique said...

Adolescence isn't a pretty stage in anyone's life, near as I've been able to tell. Even the people who look like they've got it down don't.

I think friends are key. A little love and support can see a person through a lot.

LMJ said...

I hated high school myself. I belonged in the weirdos group. I was that girl you mention in this blog.

I read all the time and didn't want to be disturbed in my nose was in a book. Wait. I still dont' want to be disturbed if my nose is in a book.

But yeah...this hit close to home.

kanishk said...

But it is a terribly hard transition for so many of them. Self-loathing is beyond painful.

Work from home India

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Hi Christine! Remember that drama? Oh, how awful!

Amen to that, Dominique. Too much trying to fit in and not enough love. I figured that out.

LMJ, you're like my long-lost sister.

Hi Kanishk! Ugh! It was such a hard time!

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