Let’s talk about 2nd grade, shall we?
When I was 7, we moved from our small trailer of happiness in Augusta, Kansas and moved to Wichita and into a bigger house of not quite as much happiness, but it was still ok. Wichita is also in Kansas, but you probably already know that. I will devote more stories to times in that house, but right now I am going to tell you about my experiences in the new school that came with the new house.
In Augusta, I went to public school. I was an amazing child (I really was. Just ask anyone who knew me back then) and I look back at Kindergarten as probably the highlight of my life as far as beauty and brains go. Let me tell you, me and the alphabet people were GREAT friends. There was Mrs. A and Mr. H and all 24 of the other inflatable letter characters that hung from the ceiling. We were tight. My teacher, Mrs. Dodds, took pictures of all of her students at the beginning of the school year and mine was particularly noteworthy. Mostly because I was the only one who struck a pose. I had my summer tan and my long brown hair that fell just perfectly without me even trying. I had TWO boyfriends, Johnathan Perkins and Jeff Krause. I liked Johnathan the best. He was actually the real one. Jeff just followed me around. Johnathan and I used to play like he was Mario and I was Princess Peach and he was saving me from all of the evil. Jeff always wanted to play too, so we made him be Yoshi. Kids are weird. Jeff always gave me presents, though, so he gets points for creativity even though they were quickly deducted for his crazy hair. (I think I might even still have a pair of Garfield earrings he gave me once…)
1st grade was mostly the same. I was not super popular, but I was not super unpopular either. I remember hanging out with some of the not-so-popular kids. One in particular was named Monica. I liked Monica. She was kind of a crazy kid. She looked like a pixie and had long blonde hair that was always tangled. I remember some of the kids asking me “Why did you go to Monica’s house? She smells bad and she always has Koolaid on her face” “Well, so does Billy! AND Christopher! And you like them because they have ROBOCOP action figures!!” That silenced them, alright.
One of my most favorite rememberings from 1st grade was a group of us girls camping outside the 6th grade science class window and yelling “WE LOVE LANDON!!!” at the top of our lungs until the teacher walked to the window and yelled at us. We were such DAREDEVILS!!! (Also, check us out loving the older men. Ehhh? Ehhh?) Well, Landon’s girlfriend found out and came over to tell us to stay away from her man. She was NOOOOOT nice. Why on earth would a 6th grader feel threatened by a gaggle of 1st graders? No clue, but she brought an 8th grade boy with her to reinforce her point. The boy yelled at us and sneered some nasty threat to which I even shocked myself by replying with an “OH YEAH?”. He was taken aback. He walked a step further. “Yeah.”
“OH YEAH??” I stepped forward as well, my feet CLEARLY having decided to take over the rest of my body.
This continued until I was nose to nose (actually more like nose to chest) with the guy and on my fifth “OH YEAH!?!?!?” the bell rang. Boy hightailed it, and I was rewarded with a small glass collie figurine from one of the girls for my bravery. (I was so BA in grade school! What happened?!?!?)
All of this to say that I was somewhat used to being on an even playing field with my fellow students.
NOT SO IN THE 2ND GRADE!!
2nd grade was my wakeup call to the real world. I started going to a private Christian school and it was HORRIBLE. Up until this point, I was unaware of money and the power that comes with it. It was the first time I started feeling self conscious about things. It was the first time I was not only excluded, but OPENLY excluded from some activities. I remember one girl named Bethany did NOT like me for some reason. We were three days into the start of school! I hadn’t even given her a reason to dislike me yet! Maybe it was my nose, who can tell. She put birthday party invites in EVERYONES shoe cubby EXCEPT for mine. “I’m sure she didn’t mean to!” my teacher Mrs. Black tried to reason with me as Bethany stood behind her and scowled at me. “I’m sure”, I replied. “It’s ok. I have better plans this weekend anyway.”
BURN!!! Take THAT, Bethany!! (Bethany conveniently moved about a month later, thus freeing up my life.)
Being unaware of the power of money, I was also unaware that special privileges could be awarded to you if your parents or grandparents gave “monetary blessings” to the school.
And that’s where Caitlin Hoffman comes in. Caitlin was your typical spoiled rich girl. The only child of divorced parents, she had long, flowing, blonde hair, a radiant skin tone, and two perfect little moles on her face. All the boys loved her and Principal Loewen and the teachers loved her EVEN MORE. All the girls loved Brandon Urich. It was because he was SOOOOOOO CUTE and his dad was Randy Ray Urich, a local DJ for KFDI and therefore he was PRACTICALLY FAMOUS!! Caitlin decided that Brandon was her boyfriend, and he was whipped. They were the Brangelina of New Song Academy. (Not saying that Brad Pitt is whipped, but you know what I mean.) Despite Caitlin being a sub-par singer (we have videographic evidence of this), she somehow “miraculously” ended up with the lead solo as “Mary” for the “Joy to the World” Christmas extravaganza.
My all time favorite run-in with Caitlin was over a spelling book. Spelling was my favorite subject and I was good at it! So good that Mrs. Black would sometimes use me as an example. (I failed to mention that 2nd and 3rd grades were combined into one classroom at New Song.) “Katie!”, she would exasperatedly yell “Spell oxen!”
“O-X-E-N.”, I would answer, embarrassed, and look back down at my history book on the other side of the room.
So, you can imagine my surprise as I walked by Caitlin’s desk one day and saw her reading a “Mandie” book, cleverly cloaked behind her spelling assignment. In my outrage, I marched over to Mrs. Black’s desk.
“Mrs. Black”, I said. “Caitlin is reading a ‘Mandie’ book instead of doing her spelling words!!”
“SHHHHHHHH!!!” was her curt reply. “Did it ever occur to you that she has PERMISSION? Go. Sit. Down.”
And that’s when I realized that the world is not fair, that grownups can be just as corrupt as children, and that you cannot count on people getting in trouble for doing the wrong thing. On my way back to my desk, I angrily vowed to try not to be one of those so-called “grown ups”.
It’s hard to tell who was more unimpressed with my foray into the world of private Christian education, me or my parents. Fortunately for me, my brother had a TERRIBLE time in Kindergarten with ADHD and a teacher who had ZERO patience and wanted just to keep him in time out all the time. Our parents yanked us out of there and from 3rd grade on, we were homeschool students.
My brother graduated from college in 2010 at the top of his class, thank you very much. “Stupid kid”, indeed!
The jury’s still out on me.