Being a second grader should be pretty stress free, right? I mean, you aren’t even to multiplication yet. Well, mine would have been stress-free if I hadn’t had to go into my classroom everyday and be confronted with the big question: Do I speak up? You may be expecting that I was faced with racism or sexism or something profound in the classroom–something that I needed to speak up against but it was nothing near that. Everyday I was faced with the same question by my teacher during reading time, “will you rub my back?” And even at times (try not to vomit), “will you rub my feet?” Yes, my second grade teacher expected her students to “rub” her during our class time. Now, if you have seen Waiting For Superman you know how messed up our education system is but let me have you know that it extends to private schools as well. Yes, my parents were paying money for me to go to school to rub my teachers back. The first few times I complied being to scared to say anything but after a couple times of this nonsense, I stopped giving this teacher eye contact and if she ever asked for me to rub her back, I’d just give her a no without even a glance. Eventually it got so bad, I had to get my parents involved. Eventually, it did get better. I know what you’re thinking–this is ridiculous. Oh, and it was. I still can’t get the image of Gregory, the teacher’s pet, huddled UNDER the desk rubbing her feet. It haunts me still.
On our last day of class, this teacher told us she had good and bad news. Of course, I was crossing my fingers she was retiring. So when she told us her bad news: she was retiring, I was ecstatic. However, when she told us her “good” news: she was being promoted to vice principal, I quietly vomited in my mouth. She told us to come visit her next year in her big new office.
I never visited her. I may look back and laugh at this now but a part of me still cringes. It may not be rubbing a teacher’s back nowadays but it may be accepting an unequal pay or simply accepting something for the way that it is without questioning it. There will always be the Gregorys but there will also always be the ones willing to say something too; even if it’s the second grader in the classroom. It has to start somewhere.
Rubbed the Wrong Way