if you can help it


Does this darkness have a name?

This cruelty this hatred.

How did it find us,

did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it?

What happened to us

that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war,

hoping for their safe return

but knowing some will be lost along the way.

When did we lose our way?

Consumed by the shadows

swallowed whole by the darkness.

Does this darkness have a name…is it your name?

-voiceover by Lucas, One Tree Hill


I’ve decided to post my thoughts on a certain subject because after overhearing an argument this morning, I’ve realized once again, I have a LOT to say on the matter, and it never seems to be the right occasion to voice my thoughts. Why not now?! 😉

I had this math teacher. He rarely actually taught math. He talked–a lot. He talked about his kids. He talked about his upbringing. He bragged about being shot at on his way to school. He talked about what spoiled, rich children we allegedly were (even though more than half of us were living on poverty level). He rambled on and on about how bad our grades were, how we should be playing sports instead of sitting at home doing nothing all the time. He called us by our last names, even the girls, as if we were on his dumb softball team and calling us by our last names even though none of us ever asked to be called by our last names (I hated my last name.).

Tuesday morning, exhausted from working later than 10pm (latest someone under 18 could work on a school night) which was not right and proper, but I didn’t know that your manager telling you to clock out and keep working was sketchy, but I digress…I had a project due in English and a test in Government. At career tech it was my day to teach and I had forgotten to run off copies of one of the worksheets for my lesson plan. I adored, respected, and admired my career tech teacher, but she had a way of looking disappointed in me, ever so often—made me want to crawl out of my skin and abandon it for a little while. I was getting rides to school from my aunt and my little cousin was in hysterics the whole way because she was going through this thing where she begged and pleaded, even ran away screaming because she so desperately didn’t want to go. I sat in class feeling terrible for her, hoping she wasn’t somewhere alone and sad.

“I bet none of you know what it’s like to go without air conditioning,” my math teacher with the persistent preference for last names said. “How many of you have ever gone an entire summer without air conditioning?”

My hand went up because duh. We never had air conditioning. I just assumed most people didn’t. We had fans. At some point, someone gave my mom one of those window unit air conditioners. When I looked around, no one else had their hand up, so I put mine down. Maybe it was a rhetorical question.

Point is, I never understood why he seemed to want to make us feel small. And I would think that’s what you’re doing when you constantly try and level everyone else out. Look what you have that I didn’t. Look how you waste it like I don’t. It’s like he wasn’t even there to teach at all, he just showed up to talk to a captive audience because for some reason, he needed one and at least that way, he got paid for it and no one could talk back or escape.

I remember one year, some guy I didn’t know threatened to kill me because his sister told him I said or did something she didn’t like. I went home sobbing. My mother turned the volume up on the TV and told me to go get a shower.

Thinking back, I don’t think anyone ever appreciated just how hard I tried. I tried–hard. I was scattered and messy, not great at taking tests. I did what I was supposed to do and didn’t even ask to go to the bathroom (because of course you couldn’t use the bathroom without walking across the room of 20 or so people and making a plea to the teacher as to why you need to go so badly–and that was embarrassing). I was teaching little children about Jesus on Sunday mornings, because I was the oldest of the kids and the youngest of the older people and somehow I ended up with the job even though I kept telling people I wasn’t at all fit to teach anyone anything. I kept my room clean. I minded my mother. I helped my grandparents. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t drink or do drugs or anything even remotely inappropriate for someone my age, now that I think of it. But when you’re behaving well, I guess you sometimes become partially invisible.

At an early age, I became very good at being good. I never got in trouble–ever. Except once. The principal called me into his office, said I had showed up late too many times, and I had to bend over and take a spanking with a big wooden paddle OR spend the next day in isolation all day long. I don’t remember him asking me why I was late. I was late because I was staying up too late and my mother was already gone for work before time for me to get up. And like any other 16 or 17 year old, when you’re going on 4 hours sleep after work, housework, homework, and sitting in bed for an hour struggling to cut your brain off, if there was no one there to shake me out of my coma, I just didn’t hear an alarm. I told the principal in no uncertain terms, I was too old to get a spanking. What I meant was, I’ve been helping raise my aunt’s babies since I WAS a baby, I don’t like it when I get hit at home, I certainly don’t want YOU hitting me and besides that, the idea of bending over and sticking my butt up in the air for some strange man to spank me was more than humiliating. It was mortifying. I figured if I spent the day in isolation, at least I’d stand a chance of getting all my work done.

People ask me why I would send my children to private school or home school them rather than send them to public school? Because frankly, when I was a child, I got enough BS abuse at home, I didn’t need it at school too. Sure there are a few teachers who are wonderful and inspiring, caring, giving…but the majority of the ones I had were just not. They were just as judgmental, hateful, and ignorant as the worst of the worst.

Do I think I would have learned more if I had been turned loose with a stack of text books and left to my own devices? I have no way I knowing, but I know I wouldn’t have spent so much time in tears, rolling around in bed, too hurt to rest. You can bet the farm on that and take it all the way to the bank while you’re at it. 😉

I feel like this argument about home schooling keeps coming up in my everyday life. My mother was complaining that a mutual acquaintance was taking her son out of school because he was being relentlessly harassed about being over weight. My mother said the same thing lots of people say, how will he ever learn how to deal with life if he’s taken out of school, away from other kids just because they’re mean to him? 

Something I learned as soon as I graduated high school? THAT isn’t life. It’s a torture chamber. And a child needs to learn how to deal with people who are cruel to him, but maybe the best way to do that isn’t to lock him in a cage with starving lions and doctor up what’s left of him when they’re done. He needs to be loved. He needs to be built up tall to learn how to love and respect himself so other people can’t tear him down. I can’t tell someone else what to do with their children, but I can say being picked-on on a daily basis, psychologically or otherwise, it’s no life. That’s not what life is supposed to be…and if I had a child of my own, I couldn’t imagine forcing them to spend 8 hours a day with people who have made it their mission to make him understand that he is worthless and unwanted.

If the argument is, what if they’re being abused at home and school is their only safe place?

Then my question for you is, what if  even school isn’t a safe place?

Let’s face it, in the world we’re living in, there isn’t much of a safe place left. You can’t count on hate to leave anyone alone. And as far as I’m concerned, life is too short and too precious to waste any small amount of it in shallows and in miseries, if you can help it.

Okay, so here endeth the sermon. This is all I feel compelled to say on the subject for now and I thank you for allowing me to do so. I realize in a dead-in-the-water sort of way, my opinion isn’t popular. There’s a million and one arguments. There’s holes and flaws…and muddled facts. But there’s this voice in the back of my head, well, an hourglass really, telling me I won’t get to be here forever, reminding me that I’m not always articulate in live and actual conversations (my brain moves slower than my lips), and one day, I’m going to wish I spoke my heart while I still could. Journaling is nice, but this way there’s a bigger (though very slim) chance someone who needs my words might actually stumble upon them.

Happy Wednesday.


2 thoughts on “if you can help it”

    1. Thank you so much Alex. 🙂 I know it’s a little ranty, but it felt better after I got it out of my system. Hope you’re having a happy Thursday.

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