I Was Only 9

She was everyone’s favourite teacher. A robust woman with a beautiful singing voice who incorporated song into every lesson.

Her sharp eye and no-nonsense attitude made even the class clown cower.

She expected the best from us.

I was only 9.

We made our cursive loops loopier, our singing voices sweeter, our “Lords Prayer” louder in hopes of winning her approval.

Her pinned hair, soft scent, and overflowing bosom was a welcome guest to the desk of any student to whom she was partial.

Heads coming together over journals, backs patted, good jobs and way to go’s.

This teacher everyone loved.

This woman adults praised and students ran to on the school yard.

Hated me.

I was only 9.

When she spoke to other children her sing-song voice filled the room with smiles but when she spoke to me it was harsh and short.

One word sentences ending with a sideways glare, mouth in a straight line.

Attempts at making her like me proved fruitless.

Like when I cut off all of my long hair and came to school in tears.

Looking to adults for support because kids are cruel.

Maybe she would sympathize?

I was only 9.

“Everyone we have a new little boy in our classroom.”

The class laughed.

So much embarrassment, confusion, frustration.

Tears were not acceptable in her classroom so I sat with my head down for the rest of the day wishing my hair would grow back.

At Christmas our class held try outs for the Christmas concert and I competed against two other girls for the part of Mary in the Christmas Story.

I won the part.

I was only 9.

She pulled me aside to tell me the news and by the despondent look on her face I could tell she was not pleased with the cast.

“If you don’t keep your grades up you will not participate and one of the other girls will get your part.”

Sigh.

I was only 9.

Over the years I have thought about this teacher a lot.

My hair cut.

This concert.

I thought about what I would do if I ran into her again.

There were years when I would have said and did a whole lot.

I was only 9.

But now.

I would say nothing.

I feel sorry for her.   Sorry that she had such a cold heart towards a little girl. Sorry that she is remembered for being so callous.

I forgive her.

Leighann

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48 Responses to I Was Only 9
  1. tracy
    March 22, 2011 | 10:48 am

    I cry for that little girl. I want to slap that teacher. 🙁 Love this so much

  2. Elaine
    March 22, 2011 | 11:21 am

    That’s just awful. My heart goes out to your 9 year-old self, wishing for acceptance and hoping to be liked. You are a good person to forgive her.

    p.s. So glad you got the part… 😉

  3. Andrea
    March 22, 2011 | 11:27 am

    Oh. My heart hurt and I held my breath as I read this, a nine year old should not have to suffer under that kind of person. I feel sorry for her, too. Good for you for being strong and forgiving. Though I’d probably want to show her how amazing grown up you is, now. 😉

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:15 pm

      I’ve thought about what she would think of me now.
      But…she has probably forgotten about me.
      I don’t think I left the impression on her that she left on me.

  4. I Thought I Knew Mama
    March 22, 2011 | 11:40 am

    This brought back things teachers said to me around that age that I have never been able to forget. I really enjoyed the flow of this post and your short, stacatto lines and repetition. It really enhanced the power of the piece!

    Visiting from TRDC 🙂

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:14 pm

      Thank you for appreciating my writing style.
      Thank you for visiting.

  5. Miri
    March 22, 2011 | 11:50 am

    I had a teacher like that in eighth grade. Overflowing bosom and everything. I also can look back as a grown woman and see the memories and pain from a distance, see where she was coming from even if I don’t agree or condone her actions, and forgive.

    Wish I could give little 9 year old you a hug though. It sure is tough to be there.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:14 pm

      It is shocking how many people have had teachers like this.
      It is also sad.

  6. Galit Breen
    March 22, 2011 | 12:09 pm

    You tell so much in so few words!

    I want to hug this sweet 9 year old girl (you!) and kick this mean old teacher’s butt.

    I knew a teacher like this, too, and your piece with it’s beautiful words and repetitive strong text really brought back those memories and feelings.

    These words struck me as especially powerful: “One word sentences ending with a sideways glare, mouth in a straight line.”

    I’m so sorry that this happened. Good for you for letting go. That is hard to do.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:13 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it.
      I give you permission to kick her butt.

  7. Elena
    March 22, 2011 | 12:40 pm

    That teacher? Awful. As a teacher myself, I can’t believe how she would treat you at that age. I feel awful for that little girl who walked in at 9 and was ridiculed for her hair. I liked how every few lines you kept going back to your age, great style for this post.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:12 pm

      Some teachers?
      Love their jobs, the children, to teach.
      Others?
      Do not.

  8. Mama Track
    March 22, 2011 | 12:48 pm

    I was right there with you. I could feel your confusion. And I’m left, as I’m sure you were, wondering why.

    I loved the use of, “I was only nine.” An intriguing title that brought me here. The haircut story was a great illustration of her cruelty.

    My heart ached for you. Visiting from TRDC.

  9. Jack
    March 22, 2011 | 1:13 pm

    I was only 9.

    That says it all.

  10. Kris
    March 22, 2011 | 1:34 pm

    You were only nine, but you described it like it happened yesterday. My daughter is nine and has a teacher she doesn’t like. She is not a warm and friendly young woman and it makes my daughter sad. She just wants to be acknowledged. Her approval would be like winning the lottery.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:10 pm

      My heart aches for your daughter.
      I have a fear that my daughter will experience this very thing when she starts school.
      What does a mother do?

  11. Jessica
    March 22, 2011 | 1:57 pm

    How can a teacher be so cruel to a 9 year old? That is terrible. I’m sorry you had to go through this at such a young age.

  12. Kir
    March 22, 2011 | 2:11 pm

    for a story that was so short and concise (wow) you really had me there, feeling all the pain you felt in her presence.

    My heart literally ached for that little girl you were.
    I am so glad that you moved on, that now you feel no sympathy but pity for her when she was so cruel to you.

    this was really well written and heartbreaking. HUGS to you and your 9 yr old self.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:08 pm

      Thank you so much.
      Thank you for appreciating my writing style.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  13. Mad Woman behind the Blog
    March 22, 2011 | 2:34 pm

    Great use of repetition! The descriptions felt honest, complete. I liked the short sentences that moved the piece along.

    I wish I could offer some concrit but I don’t know what I’d change.

    Kudos for you for being able to forgive her. I don’ t know that I could.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:08 pm

      I love you for saying you wish you could offer concrit but you don’t know what you’d change.
      LOVE you!
      sigh.

  14. Shell
    March 22, 2011 | 4:04 pm

    Oh, this is so heartbreaking. You shouldn’t have had to go through that. 🙁

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:07 pm

      Thank you Shell.
      It gave me something to blog about!
      I can thank her for that.

  15. The Imperfectionist
    March 22, 2011 | 4:14 pm

    You were only 9. She was an adult.

    You were a sweet kid. She’s was a jerk.

    You may forgive her, but I don’t. (Admittedly I have a hard time with forgiveness.)

    Very powerful piece. Love the repeat of the line “I was only 9.”

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:06 pm

      And I love how you commented.
      So my style.
      To the point.
      Short sentences.
      You get it.

  16. WTH am I Doing
    March 22, 2011 | 4:21 pm

    I like the way your post flowed. The short, concise sentences really set the tone for your story. Nicely done.

    And I also had a teacher (or 2) like this. To not like someone is one thing…I get that. But to be openly mean to a 9 year old girl? Wow.

    ~visiting from TRDC

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:06 pm

      I think a teacher has a responsibility.
      If you do not like children why are you in that line of work?

  17. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    March 22, 2011 | 6:11 pm

    I had a teacher like this. I still perfectly remember the little slights. What a loser that guy was, I see now.

    I truly ached for you when she called you a boy to the class. Just awful and I hate that there are teachers out there like her. You captured the humiliation well.

    Here’s my concrit: you have quite a few grammatical errors in here: It’s no-nonsense and one-word sentences, with a hyphen. Overflowing is one word. It should be “to whom she was partial” to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

  18. Carina
    March 22, 2011 | 10:07 pm

    I really like this reflection. I think I see where you were going with the style – the clips of different actions. I guess I wish there were a little more body to each of those stories: the description, the play, the hair cut. You delve so neatly into these painful topics, but I almost feel like we’ve reached your concluding feeling before you get there. Maybe it’s strange that I’d want to delve into that pain deeper, but I want to grieve with you and come out refreshingly emotionally settled with you at the end.

    Powerful topic. Keep up the good writing!

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:04 pm

      I think a large amount of my writing is this choppy style.
      I enjoy only giving little bits of info in order to keep my readers guessing.
      Or to assist them in filling in the rest with their own memories perhaps?

      Thank you for your concrit.

  19. Tiffany
    March 22, 2011 | 10:15 pm

    My heart aches for that nine year old you, I’ve been there. Teachers can be so horrible and it makes me mad that she made you feel so awful. Glad for you that you got that part in the play, you showed her.

    At least you can look back now and not be bitter and be able to forgive her. 🙂
    You are the better person.

  20. CJ
    March 22, 2011 | 10:20 pm

    I had a teacher like this. In the 2nd grade. I still remember her so vividly. Like you, I find myself feeling sorry for her…

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 5:01 pm

      It saddens me that there were so many teachers like this.
      And still are.

  21. Leigh Ann (The Twin Spin)
    March 23, 2011 | 12:25 am

    This is lovely. And well done. My heart breaks for the 9 year old you.

  22. Mandyland
    March 23, 2011 | 2:35 pm

    This was heartbreaking. The whole time, I kept asking why. Why you? What did she have against you?

    As an adult, I’m looking for motive.

    As a little girl, you were looking for approval.

    I’m so sorry and I’m so glad you were able to forgive her.

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 4:58 pm

      Your comment really struck me,
      “As an adult, I’m looking for motive.
      As a little girl, you were looking for approval.”
      So so true.

  23. Mel
    March 23, 2011 | 8:16 pm

    I really, really liked this. I think it would have had more impact if most of the sentences were arranged in paragraphs with the sentence “I was only 9” standing on its own in between. Otherwise, the descriptive quality, the wording and your willingness to share such a painful memory: perfect!

    • multitaskingmumma
      March 23, 2011 | 9:00 pm

      Thank you Mel.
      I think this may have worked well.
      your concrit is appreciated.

  24. Frelle
    March 24, 2011 | 1:11 am

    oh honey. thank you for pouring your heart out, and for giving us a page out of your story. I am glad you forgave her, and realized later that her own pain was probably fueling her behavior. Ive been humiliated by teachers too. But still, I want to hug you. *HUG* 🙂

  25. Mrs. Jen B
    March 24, 2011 | 3:41 pm

    You poor little thing. I often wonder what goes through teachers’ heads, why they pick favorite students and the students they clearly don’t like. And why they can’t be mature enough to get past it.

    I liked your style here very much.

    I wish I could slap that teacher.

  26. MamaRobinJ
    March 24, 2011 | 10:32 pm

    Just catching up because I didn’t do this prompt. How horrible, but I love that you can forgive her. I understand why – you’re stronger.

  27. Booyah's Momma
    March 26, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    I remember a particular teacher like that in elementary school. And the memories of those experiences are so vivid, even after all these years.

    Forgiving is always easier said than done. Kudos to you for being the bigger person… even at 9.

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