***September is my birthday month. In honor of that, each day I’ll be sharing an older picture of myself. With those pictures I’ll attach something that I would tell my younger self. Part one and part two.***
You stopped talking long enough to pass the second grade so that is good! Third grade starts out a little rocky. You have the meanest teacher in the whole school. She is only there for a few months of the school year. Rumor has it that she got kicked out and sent to sensitivity classes. Who knows?
Anyhow, she stayed long enough to traumatize you and your classmates. You were more of a reader and not that into math and science. Well in third grade we learned themultiplication table. You had it down up until the fives. The 10s and 11s were alright too. Those 12s... the dreaded 12s sent shivers down your spine.
Our class desks were all facing each other in a square shape. The teacher asked questions and called on people to answer. Usually you were pretty eager to answer. Unless it had to do with math.
Mrs. Stallmer called on you to answer a question about “what times what equals what?” You hesitated and you didn’t know the answer. She made you write the ENTIRE multiplication table on the board IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS. Oh man. You were doing pretty well until you got to those sevens.
Tears began to run from your coal black eyes down your soft brown cheeks. You didn’t know how to complete it. You felt humiliated. The perfectionist in you beat yourself up internally because you didn’t know them perfectly.
Thus began our hatred of math. Thus began our defense mechanism of shutting down when things get tough.
Little one you must know its not your fault. We all learn a little differently. You aren’t stupid, or slow, or anything like that. In fact you are actually pretty bright. You just need to find a way of learning that works best for you. You will find out a little later that you enjoy music. You tend to make up songs to go with things you need to remember. This works for you and that is great.
Even though this year was one of your worst experiences, (It was so traumatic that when your daughter was about to enter third grade you prayed that she didn’t get the teacher that reminded you of Mrs. Stallmer.) it was good in a way.
This year teaches you to be empathetic. One day you will have the opportunity to be a teacher yourself. You’ll teach piano lessons, yoga, and sunday school classes. In those instances there will be students where the material doesn’t quite click.
You will know what to do because you have been that student. Little Donna, dry your tears. Your super meanie third grade teacher has given you some of the greatest gifts: empathy and vulnerability.
One day you will hone in on your skill to be empathetic. You will let down your walls to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You will stop running, and shutting down when things get difficult. My dear, once you do this, you will rise from the ashes and be unstoppable.