2nd Grade Traumatics

The other day while Kaply and I were driving in the car, she confessed that she has the memory of a peanut. I possess an elephant’s memory which means mine would eat hers as a snack. She can’t remember passwords or the name of her second grade teacher. Me? I totally remember my second grade teacher. Why? Because she put my name on the board.

Picture it: Campbell, CA. The year: 1981. It was quiet hour while Ms. Grover worked with the slow readers in the corner. We were told to work on our projects at our desks and that there was to be no talking. While working on my drawing, I realized I needed a purple crayon. I NEEDED IT. So I went over to another student’s desk and gestured that I wanted to borrow the crayon. I might have whispered “thanks.” (It’s called manners.) I went back to my desk and finished my work. When quiet hour was over, the teacher went to the chalkboard and started writing students names on the board. My name was on the board.




I was a good girl. I did what I was told. I followed the rules. I wore my uniform and stood in line without making a fuss. I was not the kind of student who got her name on the board.

Truth be told, I freaked the fuck out.

(Even though back then I thought the word “fuck” was actually “fuff” and when I told my parents they let me know in no uncertain terms that I was never to say that word. See, Mom? I didn’t say “fuff.”)

I raised my hand and asked why my name was on the board. Seeing as how I was pretty shy at 8 years old, this was a bold move on my part. The teacher chided me and said I knew why- I had talked during quiet hour. I was incredulous. I had been just trying to do my work. That purple crayon really added a lot to my project. She brushed off my inquiries and moved on to another subject. I raised my hand again and asked to use the bathroom pass. Once in the hallway, I promptly ran to the school office where my Mom was working, crying my eyes out like someone had just run over my cat Dumbo. (Yes, his name was Dumbo. Shut up. I loved that Dumbo ride at Disneyland and the story.) My Mom tried to calm me down so she could understand what in the hell I was sobbing over. She soothed me as only a mother can and I was able to return, red eyed and pouting, to class.

I am 35 years old and I am still pissed about it. The unfairness of it really gets under my skin. The fact that I can remember the details so vividly and that I still hold a grudge entertains Kaply to no end. I am here for her amusement. And apparently, I do my job well.


58 thoughts on “2nd Grade Traumatics

  1. I believe I had a similar thing happen to me in the 3rd grade. I loved Ms. Seaton until that day my name got on the demerit board. It wasn’t until the end of the year when she gave me the award for β€œthe child who smiles the most” that I forgave her.

    It is funny the things that stick with us.

  2. Mine was in Grade Two as well! What was with those teachers? Jess came over to borrow an eraser from me and we both got in trouble. The injustice!

  3. LOL. That made me laugh! Can’t believe the teacher though. I mean COME ON, you were just borrowing a crayon! It’s not like you stood on your desk and started screaming “FUFFFF!!!!” Some people need to chill.

  4. OMG – The EXACT same thing happened to me in Kindergarten. And all I asked for was a crayon, too. You would think the damned teacher could discern an actual conversation from the pitiful crayon request of a mere FIVE YEAR OLD. I have a problem with authority to this day.

  5. i didn’t feel betrayed by a teacher until 9th grade, when the teacher (whose name i can’t remember because my memory sucks eggs too) pulled me into the hallway and asked me to stop raising my hand to all the questions. “maybe,” she said, “you should give the others a chance to respond.” i was hurt and embarrassed. we went back into the classroom and she asked her questions and while i pouted at my desk not one student raised a hand. she had to call on people, and guess what? they didn’t know jack. she looked at me at one point, as if she wanted me to contribute but because i’m petty, i looked away from her and kept quiet.

    the silence didn’t last long though, after a week or so, i was talking again. i liked being right too much to completely stop participating in class. πŸ˜€

  6. FUFF the teacher! She should have known how important it was to have THAT purple crayon qnd that an artist should not be limited. EVER! I mean come on!!! Is she from Mars or something?

    Poor Sizz. Give me your address and I’ll send you all the purple crayons you need. ha. ha.


  7. LOL! My second grade teacher and I had a similar moment. It was quiet time and I had just finished making her a card that said something like “You are the best teacher in the whole wide world and I want to be just like you when I grow up.” I waited until she’d left the room and crept up and put it on her desk. As I was stepping away from her desk, she walked in and shouted at me and demanded to know what I was doing. (She was super cool and this was like one of three times in the entire year when she yelled at anyone.) She saw the card and apologized.

    The funniest part of this story is that I still know her and run into her every once in a while when I’m home. About five years ago she brought the incident up, and said she’d felt bad about it ever since! We had a good laugh about it.

    (sorry for the longest comment in the world…)

  8. I feel so bad for second grade sizzle and her purple crayon. Also…I can’t stop laughing.

  9. I spent a great deal of time in second grade standing in the corner. I had a hard time obeying rules. And yeah, I still remember the teacher’s name. She retired after that year.

  10. I’m guilty of having one of the loudest classrooms in my school: I encourage talk. So long as there’s a purpose to it. The purple crayon wouldn’t be an issue with me πŸ™‚
    My evil teacher story is Grade 3. She wanted everyone out of the room FAST, and I just wasn’t. Long story short, that was no longer an issue after I tripped trying to hurry and put my tooth through my lip. Yep, blood trumps speed every time.

  11. With all your mad online skills, have you thought about Googling that teacher? And writing said teacher a note? Or even paying said teacher a visit. Cuz honey, if there’s one thing you need, it’s some closure! πŸ™‚

  12. Thankfully I also have the memory of a pea-nut, remind me what my kids names are would you please? ;o)
    I feel like I need to send you a box of purple crayons and a gold star award! ;o)

  13. I wonder if they are trying to teach us discipline by doing shit like that. I don’t get it though – that is VERY extreme!

    I have a really good memory for crap like that too. Arg!

  14. You remind me so much of my daughter that it kills me! She is the perfect child and yet the ONE time she got “yelled at” (we don’t yell in our house, so my kids idea of yelling is like a stern look or something) in class, she still talks about. I have no doubt that if she blogs when she is older she will be writing a similar post to yours!

  15. Why is there a cute little green monster next to my name? Is that in replacement of those quilt things that used to be there?

  16. I have the memory of a peanut also. I find it very annoying, because I used to have a great memory. Perhaps you should write a book… Sizzle and the purple crayon. Wait, that might be taken. Did you save the project? I guess the nice thing about not having a great memory is not remembering who pissed me off.

  17. The fact that you still hold a grudge all these years lates is great. I can remember being in the 4th grade and being taken outside by the teacher during our class’ art session because I was making too many jokes out loud. Oh, it all makes sense now…

    Have a great day, despite the painful memory πŸ˜‰
    Wait, I don’t mean your memory in general, I mean this one school memory.

  18. For things like that I have an elephant memory, too. The group project on wolves I failed in middle school. The paper my English teacher hated. The doll I dropped in a giant mud puddle in our driveway (OK, so that one is a little random, but I distinctly remember it and I was only about 5 years old at the time)…

  19. Ah memories. I still remember some stuff from when I was a wee nipper at school. It’s odd how some of this crap just sticks in your mind. I was listening to NPR the other day and they had a lady on who was blessed/cursed with having total recall of every single event she’s experienced. Full emotional recall too. So she carries around a lot of very painful memories. I felt a bit sorry for her actually.

  20. Poor Sizzle and the Purple Crayon. 😦

    When I was in 6th grade, our tables were grouped in sets of four and one of the boys next to me was passing something over to another boy to look at during reading. We weren’t talking at all, but our teacher made all of us write “Silence is golden” 600 times. I remember my hand hurt so bad when I was done and I was so mad each time I wrote it because I didn’t do anything wrong.

  21. I’m 34 and I’d still be pissed about it too.

    In fact, I’m still a little pissed that my 4th grade teacher gave me a check minus in “handwriting” on my report card. If I ran into Mr. Hayes today I would have to find a way to mention in casual conversation that I graduated from high school as an honors student and made the dean’s list in college. And P.S.? I have lovely handwriting, jackass! πŸ˜‰

  22. I just realized I don’t know your name! I know, that’s not terrible profound of me to observe, but I feel like I know so much about you that to not even know your name is weird.

    Truthfully though, I never even gave it any thought…you’re just Sizz! πŸ˜‰

  23. Wow, I totally forgot about the whole “writing you name on the board means you’re in trouble” thing in elementary school. I’m trying to remember if I ever had my name on the board…probably not, since I was definitely a rule-follower as a child.

  24. There must be something about 2nd grade teachers. I hate mine too. I was sick, as in flu sick, as in both ends sick. I told her emphatically that I was not feeling well. I was a good girl too, never made any trouble. She refused to let me go to the bathroom or the nurse and guess what happened? Yep, hated her then, hate her now, always will.

  25. I think generally you are more likely to remember a traumatic experience than a positive one.

    The whole writing your name on the board…wtf. I sometimes bitch about the lax parenting and not blaming stuff that goes on today, but I think that singling kids out like that and embarrassing them is just horrible, whether or not they are “bad.”

  26. I had a lot of evil teachers too. My 2nd grade teacher called me all sorts of names, and didn’t believe me that I had migraines. She finally got fed up with me having to leave class almost every day at around 1 pm (they were uncontrolled back then, and almost daily) she told me in front of everyone that I was a liar, and if it was that bad I could just stay there and deal with it. She didn’t care that I would throw up. She dared me to.

    I did. On her floor. She sent me to the principal’s office and told them I did it on purpose and tried to have me suspended.

    Interestingly, she was a dead ringer for the wicked witch of the west – I kid you not.

  27. I have a slew of memories just like this. One time my teacher called me outside to yell at me for calling her Miss Mountain-tini (instead of Miss Montini) – ok, well that was a little more deserved than your incidence, but still…

    … it sucked.

  28. I’m so glad it’s not just me. I remember clearly when I was forced to miss recess in the 3rd grade because I walked past some kids misbehaving at the wrong time. Busted when I was innocent! Still ticks me off too.

  29. I would be pissed about it too. Sometimes I hate that I can remember episodes like that so clearly while some of my best moments hanging out with friends at the bar while drinking great amounts of alcohol are so cloudy or non-existent. Sigh.

  30. I’m the same way. I’m still bitter towards the art teacher in first grade who sat me out in the hallway on the day they were making puppets because I talked while she was explaining instructions. I was doing the same thing as you. I was thanking the child next to me for picking up my crayon when I dropped it.

  31. I got in trouble over crayons as well and had to go stand in the corner — I was pissed that someone sat in my normal chair and took the crayon box that I liked the most. Unlike you, I was not practicing good manners and really was out of line.

  32. awww…stupid mother humper fluffer of a teacher. I never got my name on the board in elementary school, but I did get detention for chewing gum while I was a crossing guard in the 5th grade. First time ever in trouble and I was so upset, I still remember it vividly.

  33. You do do it well. I just said do do! HAA.

    During my one year stint at a Baptist school in Wisconsin, a girl, Tracy (I still hate that name) spit on my (older and painfully shy) sister. At 8, being angry and justice seeking, I, of course, spit on her back. I GOT SPANKED BY THE PRINCIPAL. Tracy didn’t. I’m still shocked on so many levels.

  34. lol. I remember being beat in front of the whole class by my HIGH SCHOOL chemistry teacher (i went to school in Africa where that is allowed)

  35. I prank called my seventh grade teacher and remember the day he called me out of class to talk to me privately, and I blamed it on a classmate.

    I remember that day vividly.

    And the fact that exchange students from Japan told us that he – the teacher – sniffed his undies to see if they were clean or not.

  36. Funny the injustices. I can’t remember my Gd 3 teacher’s name. Then again. She couldn’t spell mine. Even AFTER my mother explained it to her.

  37. OMG I think we were seperated at birthday. Only my infraction was saying “bless you” when someone sneezed.

  38. Lame! I teach grade 2 and I definitely try to avoid being a teacher like the one you had. I find that if I talk to a student, you can tell (99.98%) of the time if they are lying or not. And if I can’t tell- I give them the benefit of the doubt. Because in the long run, that’s what I would want someone to do for me. And because, looking at the BIG PICTURE- most stuff doesn’t matter to the teacher- but to the kid, well to the kid, it can be traumatic to be punished for something you didn’t do.

    You deserve a pack of purple crayons for surviving that. πŸ˜‰

  39. That’s awful sizzle that the teacher wrote your name up on the board and you totally didn’t deserve it. I hate that negative motivation or whatever she had going on. Sorry it still bugs you today.
    It’s funny, but the really negative stuff from my past stands out so much…..why do we retain this stuff. Of course, the good does too but we rehash the bad stuff.
    Hope you are having a good week.

  40. Things like this make an impression on us, especially being so young! I think the age we are when a hurt it created has so much to do with how we can process these things. When we are young we don’t have great skills to handle stuff like this and the way she dismissed you, I’m guessing made the hurt deeper.

    Also? Your posts don’t show up in my GR until 12-18 hours later! GRRR!

  41. Oh man! I can’t even remember my 2nd grade teacher’s name. I pretty much have to have sex with you and marry you to remember anything about you. I even call my children by the dogs’ names. But Mr. Mom? He has a memory just like you. And he’s still pissed off at legions of people from his childhood.

    Mayberry Magpie

  42. Second grade was great for me but THIRD! Horrible. My teacher hated me and made fun of my inability to comprehend math/multiplication every day for months – in front of the class. I still hate that bitch.

  43. how weird – we were discussing traumatic school memories last night in my house! you never get over it do you? even the silly ones hehe

  44. Reading that just brought back all of the bad memories from Mrs. Finster’s first grade class.

    I studied for the test. Aaron and Amanda did not. I KNOW that Amanda copied off of me. And Aaron, turns out, copied off of her. But do you know? Aaron was teacher’s pet. So, when we got our tests back, what was written on my test?? A BIG ZERO with a note from the teacher: “You copied off of Aaron.”

    I never told anyone. I never questioned it. I just let it stew for 20 years. Ugh. Still pisses me off.

  45. OK, I can’t tell you what I had for lunch today but oh do I remember the injustices of Grade school.

    Grade 2 – Miss Simpson – made me sit in the corner because I wouldn’t share my red construction paper with Fred Lee. And the only reason she knew? Becaue Fred Lee was a tattle tale.

  46. Hahahahaha! Oh geezus. I also have an amazing memory, my parents are astounded at the random details I’ll remember from my childhood and of which there is no photographic evidence.

    My second grade teacher was Ms. LaFrance. I remember her because she used to lock students up in the closet if they misbehaved, not joking. She eventually got fired though πŸ™‚

  47. OMG – I found you through SAJ and I read this post and you are the first blogger I’ve read that grew up in Campbell Ca! This wasn’t Bagby Elementary was it? Oh and in first grade I had to sit in the corner for talking – this single episode of public humiliation may have stunted by social skills permanently.

  48. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Morgan at Beaufort Christian Academy in Beaufort, North Carolina. I had never seen anyone so old before. My name was a permanent fixture on the board. So much so, that there were ofetn check marks after it. Perhaps that’s when I got the desire to see my name on a board above a movie theater? I also feel in love that year with Charlotte. We echanged love letters in class every day and I promised her a castle and a kitty if she would marry me. She did, during one morning during recess. I gave her a kiss on the cheek. That was a major sin at my school and I was spanked in front of everyone.

    Is that maybe why I’m gay?

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