December 9, 2016

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December 9, 2016

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Part 4: Systemic Deficiencies



ADD and Corporal Punishment


         When I was in fifth grade I had been on Ritalin for a year or so after they had diagnosed me with ADD at the end of third grade. I was inattentive in class, couldn't communicate linearly when questioned, and didn't seem to notice that sometimes I had two different colored socks on. Though I went to a private school that had every advantage to nurture people due to it's small numbers and high tuition, my education and growth through a diagnosis like that was significantly at a disadvantage. My parents had no way of knowing how best to help me aside from what a general practitioner and teachers were telling them, and even the ADD specialist I went to for testing was a arbitrary process that held little relevance in our day to day lives after they confirmed I had what they thought I had and prescribed the pills.

         As for my teachers, so many of the them I'll always remember as loving and sweet. I know that working with learning disabilities was not something this era of teacher was necessarily prepared for. One teacher seemed to be hip on kids expressing themselves in their own zany ways, because she was deemed one of the zanniest teachers at the school. Everyone wanted her for fifth grade because she went on special field trips and had a wardrobe to Narnia in her room with a light that you could read by. Miss Roper struck me as an untrustworthy person deep down almost as soon as I met her, but I remember also wanting to trust her so badly despite. She seemed to understand that sometimes I missed classes because I would go to radio commercials or plays and she let us write in a creative writing journal which I loved. All was working out.

         But one day I remember she had stepped up to our car at pick up line and my mom pulled over into a parking spot and they were talking. Miss Roper left and my mom turned to me and asked me if I was lying at school. I said no. I remembered the times I had lied in the past - I had a fake robins eggs once in Kindergarten and told a classmate it was real and they believed me. I feel so much guilt about that to this day. I did not remember lying about anything to Miss Roper.

         A day or two later Miss Roper pulled me aside in the hallway and told me to go call my mother. That I was going to have to get a spanking. This entire story is strange to type out as the way it played out was so wrong, though my nine year old self just had to comply. Besides that, my medication did make me foggy and reserved. Maybe I had lied? Maybe I deserved this situation? The fact that a student would be asked to call their parent and ask if they would like to spank me or if the teacher was okay to spank me is the most bizarre directive to give a child, but that is what happened. I went to the office and through welling tears called my mother. My mother said something like, "Well, whatever your teacher thinks is best." The next thing I remember I was told to wait in a small room. I waited. I don't remember much about that room except it was almost as small as a closet. I remember waiting and it being almost dark. The next thing I remember was Mrs. Roper reading me Bible verses about how liars go to hell. After that I went to another room. I remember being confused why I had to go to more than one rooms for all this. Another teacher was there drinking her coffee. There was a chair and a paddle and I was asked to bend over and I was paddled twice. Afterwards, Miss Roper told me it was okay to cry but I wouldn't let her see me cry so I asked to go to the bathroom and she said okay. I still don't know what I lied about or what I did to deserve that incident.

         I may not even be telling this story further but for another time after the spanking where Miss Roper punished me in front of the entire class. She asked me what I was doing during a lesson and I said I was reading my book. I remember it was a history lesson and I was reading from the history section she was teaching from. She then asked me "Conly, what does your mother do to punish you?" This was such a terrifying question for me to answer because I had already been spanked by her once and I didn't want that to happen again. So I thought of something my mother often did which was pinch me. So I told Miss Roper that she pinched me. Next thing I knew, Miss Roper is pi