Beginning High School. It Sucked
For the most part I was excited beginning high school. Excited to begin a fresh new layer of my life. I thought of how much I would miss my old teachers for a moment. They had played such a poignant role in my life. And now I was to leave them; and I’d probably never lay eyes on them again. I was right. I never did. I was lucky to see the Janitor once or twice in my later school years but never any of my teachers. I still think of them now and again. I can only remember Mrs Parker. I can remember her being a cold woman; a woman that didn’t have much empathy. I remember her being fair and just though, and she kept us all from bouncing off the walls.
Then there was Mrs Welsh. She was a scream. One of the girls in our class’ Mum. She would come in and fill as a substitute when Mrs Parker was off and Ill. We never misbehaved with her either. perhaps it was the respect that we held for her daughter, or the fact that she gave off such a motherly vibe. She was older than most other Mums. Or looked much older. Yet the games she would let us play in class sometimes would often get out of hand. But under control. Mrs Donald was my favourite teacher from School though. And strangely I can’t remember why. Only that I remember her playing lots of games with us in P.E. and really learning a lot from her. I was sad that I was going to be leaving Mrs Donald. She had us on our final year.
I could feel myself welling up whilst I sat there on the last day of Primary School. We had set up tributes and fun things to showcase for the Head teacher. What we had learned throughout our time with the school. I had chosen to play “Yesterday” by the Beatles on the keyboard. It was the only song I knew how to play without making any mistakes. I didn’t really understand the significance that the words and meaning to this song held for people. I didn’t see the adults in the room welling up as the students they had known and grew with were finally leaving them. Finally taking the plunge into the cold harsh environment that is beginning high school.
There were lots of sad faces that day. There were three High Schools in the vicinity. At least 95% of us were moving up to St Andrews, the rest were going to one of the other two schools. It was a sad day for some. Friendships that had lasted since nursery were being torn apart by their (or their parents) choices to move to a different school. I was lucky. All my friends were off to the same School as me. I was ready. I was ready to take on the world.
I can remember the first day of High School, I can remember the sheer fright of sharing the same bus with what I thought was a grown man. His face had more hair on it than my Mum’s partner. You could see that his thick bristles were slowly mutating into long hairs. To me it looked like a full face of hair, yet I expect looking back he was a bit stubbly. Nonetheless Craig looked absolutely frightening. I can remember sticking to the front of the bus with all my little buddies that day. Too scared to even look at the back of the bus in case I caught one of those predators steely eyed glare. In case they grabbed me and ripped me limb from limb.
Some of us were lucky. Most of them had older brothers or sisters that held a seat further up the back of the bus. Knowing that if anything were to happen they would be there to protect them, or feel the wrath of their parents when they get home. I wasn’t so lucky. I was an only child. On my own. A lonely Antelope in a pit of circling Lions ready to pounce. The fear was utterly crippling. Those were my first day blues.
It stemmed from the notion of “The First Year Kicking”. For those of you that don’t know what this is; It’s the tale that is spun when you are in primary school. A notion passed from brother to brother and then to school friend. And then the thought is circulated amongst peers. It’s the idea that every young boy on his first day of high school is beaten to a pulp as part of an initiation process from their elders. A “welcome to high school, it’s shite here.” sort of thing. To say that I was scared was an understatement. Petrified is far more apt. I spent the first day on my toes, ready to dart at the first sign of trouble. Yet the beating never came. It never did. No-one received a mashed to a pulp kicking. Not through all the first year of High School. It was a story spun for god knows what end. Probably keeping us wee one’s in our places.
I’ll never forgive High School. Never forgive it for stealing my childhood away from me too soon. I am one of those annoying supporters for middle schools that truly let youngsters play out their childhoods until they’re finally ready to go to big school. I was nowhere near mature enough to act like a 16 year old when I was only 12. Yet it was sort of expected from you. You were supposed to immediately leave your childhood funs and excitements and abandon them for more cool things that were more akin to a later teenager. I hated that. I can remember on the second day of High School trying to swap cards with my mates, play hopscotch and get on with doing fun 12 year old stuff.
Yet I was received by my peers as if I was totally mad. If I had suddenly gone barmy in the 6 weeks it had taken from leaving Primary to joining High School. Perhaps the Mediterranean had been polluted and the holiday to Spain we had that year, the toxic water had gone to my head. Obviously I was mad. I was in High School and I can’t be acting like no kid. Being a kid is bad in High School. This could have been part of my downfall too.
Conformity on such an age spectrum was rather new to me. I wasn’t good with change. I couldn’t process trying to copy kids that were twice the size of me let alone mimic the boys in the next year. As I say yet again I still wanted to swap cards and play hopscotch. But there was always football I could fall back on. On a luckier note I was able to stave the acting away by taking to football on the fields with a couple of friends. It always helped. Especially when I was being shunned from the peers I so craved to be in.
I had been a popular boy in Primary school. Primary school popularity usually co-existed with the group that you were in. The more achieving the group, the popular a person that you were; or at least it was in my school. I was into football. I was into golf. I played tennis. I was good at my work, and a hung in high achieving circles. Yet the people I had associations with in Primary school were at the further end of high school. I had been misplaced. I feel that I was.
Child and teenager mentality is very faddy too. I can remember the groups that I previously hung in were no longer interested in associating with me. They had new friends. New people that they associated with; with brothers and sisters that may or may not have showed them the ropes. I on the other hand was with my wee Postman Pat lunch box wanting to play hopscotch and swap cards. I wasn’t cool. No way.
Yet I feel a big part of it was my own maturity level. I wasn’t really ready for High School. Not in the way that we perceive it anyway. I had started puberty by then, yes. My voice was also starting to break and I was well aware of the benefits of having the five knuckle shuffle but my emotional maturity just didn’t justify these drastic changes. Perhaps no-ones was. Maybe they were better at change than I was. Perhaps they were able to ground themselves better in life than I was able to at the time.
It was funny. As soon as we were home everyone changed back into their normal state. Swapping cards, playing hopscotch and making dens in the woods. But going back to high school it was like an emotional facelift. Everyone shoved on their crazy brave faces and followed the crowd. Tried to be older than what they were, beat their chest and competed on who was “the coolest”. The coolest being the most mature person.
I’ll never forgive High School for stealing my childhood. Not ever.