A slightly more personal effort than usual. That’s what I like about the prompts a single word can bring about all sorts of long forgotten memories and take you in interesting directions. My thoughts are with all those young people receiving their GCSE results today, this one is for you.
Look kids it was a corner much like this that I spent a lot of my school days
“What do you mean Daddy?”
The teacher used to stand me there
“But at least you could see all your friends.”
No as I had to face the wall and teacher said to think about how stupid I am. And I did a lot of thinking.
“That sounds mean, you always say bullying is not allowed. Your teacher sounds like a bully.”
I smile as I recall the shame and horror of my only friend being a wall. I never scream and shout, occasionally I spoke out, was “smart” with my chat, an individual. But I didn’t think I was stupid, somewhere deep down I knew and inside a fire grew.
The corner raised me, taught me at its knee, it silently praised me and my individuality bloomed.
Here’s to you Mrs Connelly who berated and humiliated, banned me from outdoor play for a month because I couldn’t recite the times tables at the front.
To you Mrs Joseph who laughed in my face, tried to teach me that poetry was an equation.
Mr Smith with disdain dripping from your mouth who told me I’d drop out.
I haven’t changed your names to protect you, is that vindictive or kind, can re-writing history save you?
“Are you okay Daddy?”
Yes – you must always be yourself, adults are not infallible, their words leave marks invaluable but they are flawed and may have something bad to sell you.
Here’s to you Mr Rush, who stood on a table and made my heart gush with the excitement words can bring. Who stood me up not as part of a hate parade but to give me my first ever A.
You inspired me, I’m a writer because of you. Teachers, parents, carers, be careful what you say words were made to slay or build monuments to life, peace and love.
Nurture or destroy I know which path I am on.
Copyright John de Gruyther 2017