TW: Bullying, or close-to-bullying mentions and descriptions. I hesitate to call it bullying because I've read what has happened to other people, and I feel like this is nowhere at all on the same order of magnitude. It also isn't really about bullying, but there are probably bits of bully-like behavior discussed in it.
I remember loving diagramming sentences... our middle school class threw such an outrage over them that we never really did it all that much. It was making sentences into beautiful charts, chopping them up and putting things all different places. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen done to words, visually, and I was so mad at our class.
School also had weird rules about showing work. For instance, in middle school algebra, I wasn't allowed to do algebra homework "down" (see picture) but had to do it across. Doing it across meant twice as much writing. And was silly. It was not the way real algebra was done. I learned algebra from my mother, a high school math teacher, years ago and they did algebra down. But I had to do it across to check the boxes and get the grades, because that was what we wanted. Actually, I think this example is not a good one, because I think I eventually showed the aide and teacher that I could totally do whatever I wanted because I was super stellar at algebra, and ended up just sitting in the classroom doing nothing. Literally nothing.
That was probably not the best use of my time.
I spent much of 8th grade math and language arts sitting in the teacher lounge drawing on paper. Because I got 100% on the pretests and so they decided I already knew everything, so I didn't have to go to class.
Sometimes I would wander around the school a bit. Run errands for teachers and that sort of thing.
It was a small school (about 60 kids per grade), admittedly. They didn't have any extra teachers or extra classes or higher classes to throw me into. (Later years, they had a new math teacher who was exceptional and gave some of the more "advanced" kids special pre-recorded lectures and work books. I was so jealous.)
The sitting around by myself while other people did work probably was not the best way to endear me to my class. At that point, though, I had decided there was no point in trying to make friends anymore, since I was going to high school at a different school than most of them.
It's tricky, though, when it is 60 people and about 40 of them have been there since kindergarten. Almost all of your old friends are there*. They just all of a sudden aren't your friends.
And I suppose I was lucky.
I was a good kid, growing up, generally.
Parents liked me.
I was quiet and generally respectful and I would rather read than watch tv. At least once I was invited to someone's house and then I would read a book while they were watching tv. (Because i figured then the rule of not reading at other people's houses didn't apply. Because they were watching tv, and I wasn't allowed to watch tv during the daytime and not on weekends, although when my mom figured that out, she told me I was allowed to watch tv at other people's houses.) And then I would be held up as "AN EXAMPLE" (Look at Alana. She's reading for fun instead of watching tv...) by their parents.
People don't like examples.
No one was ever outright obviously mean to me. (I was unobservant, admittedly. They could have been sneakily so.). Except during the presidential elections, when I was the target of more verbal efforts for having a different political opinion than our region and all those charming kiddos. I noticed those. I also used to be interested in politics. And now I can't stand talking about them. The smallest hint of visible dissent makes me want to hide.
I was a bit strange, I admit. I did chase someone around with a fish scale in 7th grade (it was a dissection and I thought she was still my friend and it was just friendly teasing. That was definitely my bad). I bit people twice (not unprovoked). I liked to tie my shoelaces to things during class and once tied them to my desk and stood up and the desk tried to walk away with me. I cried a lot in public.
Admittedly, a desk was dropped on my head once. It could have been an accident. (It's probably 50-50.) (And then the middle school aide tried to hug me and it was suffocating and I did not like it and I think I may have bitten her too.)
(With all the biting, I am surprised I stayed in school.) (But I don't think teachers knew about it, at least the few times I bit the other kids.)
People were generally decent.
I sat alone at lunch and read. Or I would run errands for teachers. Or when my sister got into middle school, sometimes I would sit with her.
But people were generally decent.
I know I was lucky. My parents were careful and they cared. They purposely put me into a small school, and would have homeschooled me if I had any long-lasting issues.** When I was having trouble making friends, they arranged careful playdates. In elementary school, there are so many things you can do to arrange your child's social life, and they did in such a wonderful way. We also saw cousins almost every week and I had a sister at home so I had my pack and I was happy.
People were generally decent and that is all I mostly cared about.
*I had at least one friend pretty consistently through 5th grade. I sometimes needed help making them at first, but I generally was good once that happened.
** They probably would have if I had asked. They did consider it because I was such a quiet, shy child that had so much trouble with other people. They also didn't know about any of this for the simple reason that I did not tell them about anything slightly bad or upsetting until about 4 or 5 years after it had happened.
Labels: asperger's, coping mechanism, me, when I was younger