“The Lesson”

So yeah, this is day three of the poetry-a-day project. I finished this one just moments ago, between answering phones and talking to coworkers. It dug up some memories for me, and I was surprised to feel my throat tightening up like I was going to cry. I’m okay now! Anyway, here’s the poem for today.

“The Lesson”

You were my math teacher in 6th grade, a time when I didn’t say much, I was too timid.
After a classmate joked about my silence, you sneered and said to me,
“There are homes for people like you.”
A so-called adult insulted an already self conscious, shy introvert.
You were right.
I did have a home, but not the kind you joked about.
Mine was a home that sheltered my loving, fun family
who kept encouraging me to gain confidence and speak up for myself.
I had teachers – more tactful teachers than you – in college.
Yes, I made it to college,
where I took drama class
and auditioned for some plays.
I took a class on public speaking
where I stood up and spoke in front of my classmates.
Classmates became coworkers when I found a job
that trained me to interract with students and staff
who asked me to go up on stage and speak to an audience
of two hundred parents and peers, if only for a few moments.
I have friends who encourage me to wave my freak flag, to have fun and show my sense of humor.
Friends who accept that I may never be a socialite and are still happy to hang out with me as much as I am happy and blessed to hang out with them.
I am very proud of my progress, but you don’t deserve any of that credit.
Your insult is still stored in the back of my head and stings when it resurfaces.
You showed me that some adults never grow up.
Thank you for teaching me that hurtful reality.

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8 thoughts on ““The Lesson”

  1. That was wonderful, Tara! Those casually cruel things that adults say to children can really linger. I will admit, this brought back some memories for me, too.
    I love how you turned it around though, and talked about all the better, more positive people you’ve had in your life since that incident.

  2. Tara, this was beautiful and heartfelt and so moving! Powerful and wonderful use of words! I really enjoyed reading it!

    And I’m so glad you realize that you’re so much stronger and so much wiser and better than your mean, ignorant teacher realized. You are extraordinary and there is no one else like you. That’s a good thing. So long as you realize your power and your potential, then that’s all that matters. If you’re happy with yourself, then life is truly wonderful for you!

  3. Laura: Thank you so much! That kind of poured out of me yesterday, unexpected.

    Churlita: She was pretty nasty – I was trying to think if I learned anything else in her math class, but I don’t remember anything but what she said to me. I’m sure story problems were included. Blergh!

    NoR: Thank you! I’m wondering how long she taught at that school – wonder if she’s still around.

    Silver: No, you’re right. She should’ve kept her mouth shut.

    Eros: Hey, thank you! I do feel stronger now. I wish I could’ve said something to her at the time, but that’s not the point. She shouldn’t have said anything rude like that. I’m happy with myself but I also know I can improve.

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