Recently, I was approached by a teacher and called a “problem child”.
Before I go into detail, let me give you a background history.
Now, this teacher was vastly unliked by my year group in school, and the atmosphere that resulted from when she walked into a room was much like a dead turkey laying on the floor of a vegetarian cafe. Much unwanted.
She wears short skirts and clothes that are meant to be fashionable but not for her age group, and she’s the co editor of the school magazine. (Of which I am first and foremost editor. I couldn’t get rid of her; she’s the one who provides the funding.)
I’ve been late to school a lot lately. ‘Lately’ meaning ‘everyday for the past year and a half”. The best part? The fact that I get away with it. My brother was a little piano playing good kid when he was at school, and he was loved by the teachers, so his reputation rubbed a little off on me.
Not all stories have a happy ever after however, and it became clear I wasn’t like my brother at all.
He was an outgoing, loud, funny piano player. He was cool. He was talented. He didn’t believe in school jumpers and half the time didn’t know what a tie was.
Then there’s me. Short, dumpy, curly fringe and too-big mens hoodie I found on sale in Peacocks. Funny in my quietly sarcastic way and unfortunately the teachers didn’t see my witty genius or troubled soul, and failed to understand why I didn’t turn up to some lessons.
And that leads to the ‘problem child’ incident.
My grades, though reasonably the same, are thought that they could be improved. I’m hardly in school, and it’s amazing what the teachers believe so I end up sitting in the library most of the time instead of French class.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t skip because I hate the subject. French is cool, yo. Badasses speak French. Bonjour and stuff. It’s more due to the fact that I hate the people.
Reasonably nice kids, bright, opinionated, loud. Nothing wrong with that.
Judging, homophobic, gossips. Everything wrong with that.
So there I sat, skipping PE, minding my own business checking emails and playing Tetris on my phone from 1996.
In comes my PE teacher. In seconds, I’m thrown into an office. A woman walks in.
“Rachel? What’s wrong? We’re getting worried about you.”
Nothing’s the matter miss. My fingers itched. I was about to get a high score. (Tetris is as boring as sludge but hey, anything to get away.)
A few more questions were asked. Bad times at home? You can tell us. Do you want to speak to anyone?
No. I felt like firmly telling them to go ask the office staff as to why I’m late everyday, seeing as my mum likes to tell them every detail.
I used to throw up every morning before I found out I was wheat intolerant, but that as an excuse wasn’t enough apparently.
“Sorry, Rachel will be late today as she’s still in the shower and then she needs to take her vitamin E tablets and find her homework. Thank you.”
“Sorry, Rachel will be late today as she is finishing her homework after she’s puked her guts up in the sink. Thank you.”
“Sorry, Rachel will be late today as she’s been eaten by squirrels and I need to find my shotgun to chase the furry sods away from my front porch. Thank you.”
That’s when she can be bothered phoning in. Most of the time she kicks me out the door and hopes for the best.
As I sat and planned all the weird, crazy, mathematical ways I could win tetris (basically pressing the buttons faster), in storms the teacher from paragraph one.
She proceeds to inform the other teacher in front of me not to believe a word I say and eyes my hoodie and ripped sleeves with disdain. In all honesty I have that hoodie because it’s comforting, and my family can’t afford a new school jumper because the prices are so bloody high.
Then I’m branded a problem child and sent to class.
Oh. Okay then.
Not weird kid’ or ‘late kid’ or ‘ridiculously beautiful princess’. Oh no. ‘Problem child’. Like I’m about to turn and whip a knife out any second.
I genuinely regret my being late this year, and I regret not feeling stable enough to attend lessons. But a girl can only explain herself so many times.
I’m ill on mornings. I don’t like my classmates. I don’t like my school. I don’t like being split from my beloved retro phone game. Now take the message and tell your goddamn grandma so I don’t have to explain myself all over again.
Moral of this story? When wearing a hoodie, try not to look like a vandal.