I'll Never Forget Mrs. Norman
My father was in the Air Force and we never lived anywhere for more than three years while I was growing up, and only in two places for that long. I went to a lot of different schools and had a whole lot of different teachers but there is only one that I can remember vividly. We moved to Oklahoma when I was in the fourth grade and we arrived a little after school had begun and I was put in Mrs. Norman's class. It wasn't easy always being a new kid and I was kind of shy to begin with so when one of the kids made an effort to speak to me I was very glad. A girl sitting in the back of the class next to me asked my name and I answered her. All I said was one word: my first name.
Mrs. Norman was teaching math at the time and suddenly in a loud angry voice that caused me to cower in my seat and shake in my boots she said, "Oooooohhh, I see that our new student is soooooo smart that she doesn't HAVE to listen in class! Why don't you come up to the front of the class and show us all JUST HOW SMART YOU ARE! Recite your multiplication tables for us!" I was terrified and sat frozen in my seat. I was hoping and praying that scaring the crap out of me would be sufficient punishment for Mrs. Norman and that she would move on with her lesson but nooooooo, she INSISTED that I stand in front of the class for her to ridicule. She yelled, "GET UP HERE NOW!"
I thought that I was going to puke and my legs had turned to jelly as I walked to the front of the class. Everybody was watching me, a few looked terrified on my behalf but most were snickering and enjoying the show. Now, I KNEW my multiplication tables, but if my baby brother's life had depended on it I couldn't have recited them at that moment. It was all that I could do not to pee down my leg and I just stood there crying while Mrs. Norman made an example out of me and pointed out to the class that I wasn't nearly as smart as I must have thought that I was.
I never said another word in her class ever again. Not to ask questions, not to answer questions, not for any reason whatsoever did I EVER speak in her classroom again. She changed me that day. I tried my very best to just become invisible. I became socially crippled and carried the fear of being made fun of with me throughout most of my adult life.
I am pushing 60 now and am STILL uncomfortable with any attention focused on me for any reason. I guess it's time for me to forgive her now so I can stop letting her affect me still.