From the first day I stepped foot into a classroom I liked school. I liked the work the teachers gave me, I liked the cozy safeness of my seat, and I even liked the lunches that were served in the cafeteria (lunches always came with a dessert, something I rarely got at home).
I was never bored. If I had to write each spelling word 20 times, I would use the words to create a pattern, maybe a picture of a tree, then race to fill in the picture before anyone caught on that I was really playing and not working.
Every assignment was fun, because for me, every assignment was my own personal game. The rules changed often, but two of the rules always stayed the same. I had to finish before everyone else in the classroom, and I could make no mistakes. A mistake meant automatic disqualification. Game lost!
So my school life progressed happily.
Until sixth grade, when I was a tween, and the school in all their wisdom decided to give IQ tests.
I remember the day my life changed very well. We had had the test several weeks before. My teacher was giving a math lesson, and for some reason one of the students asked about the results of the IQ test.
The teacher said everyone had done just fine on the test, and that the results were to be kept confidential.
Then she said (to my entire class, mind you), “Just between us, her results are off the chart.” She walked over to me and placed a hand gently on my shoulder as she smiled down at me, “I wish I could make scores like that, especially in math.”
With that gentle touch my life was ruined. I immediately acquired a new nickname, Computer Brain, and was the brunt of more teasing than I want to remember. Any pleasure I had previously experienced by doing well in school evaporated faster that water droplets on a sizzling skillet.
Probably most devastating was that I had just begun to notice the existence of boys. Those cootie laden creatures of years past suddenly looked attractive to me.
But for the next few years, all during middle school, not a single boy would look my way. Until I entered high school and was able to lose myself in a new group of students I could not be considered cute because I had been labeled smart. The two things just didn’t mix.
So you can be sure that in high school I stayed well under the radar. I still did well in school, but very, very quietly.
Here’s my seventh grade school picture. I’ve studied it, searching for the tubes, buttons, and antennas that I assume must have protruded from my head.
I see nothing. Except a huge tangle, but I doubt that was enough to make me a pariah among my classmates.
I was just a normal girl wanting normal things.
Look for yourself. Do you see those signs of monstrosity that my peers saw so easily?
Sigh. The trauma of middle school. I knew it well.