About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Experience with a Real Live Gypsy

I'm participating in a project called Mommy's Piggy Tales to record my Youth. I don't have the time or energy to link to the other records on my blog, but each Thursday for the past six weeks I have done this project if you are curious. Here is part six, which is fourth grade.

As I walked into the classroom, I felt a sense of relief. There were not Bible verses on the walls, no Christian flag, nothing to indicate that it was a Christian school. Because it, in fact, wasn’t. But that relief wasn’t going to last long.

Why such relief? I was, after all, a Christian. Shouldn't I have felt at home at a Christian school?

Not after fourth grade.

After spending third grade in the excellent Christian school, my parents made the decision to switch me to a Christian school that was closer to our home to avoid the 45 minute “commute.” The new school had some beliefs not in line with what we believed. Mostly, they were “speaking in tongues” and “fainting in the spirit” almost daily in chapel. In fact, because I wasn’t speaking in tongues (at fourth grade) I was considered unspiritual and in need of prayer. My parents, who were by no means theologians, spent many meetings with the principal trying to show from the Bible why speaking in tongues is not something everyone should do. But, they continued to put pressure on me. After one day when claims came of seeing a “glory cloud” and a “demon” in the fifth grade classroom, my parents decided to send me somewhere else. What a relief to walk into that public school classroom.

I remember as we had our tour, I asked the principal what the dress code was. He stated that there was none, and I could wear whatever I wanted. I said, "Well, I couldn't come in a bikini, though, right?" and he said, "Well yes, you could." I never took him up on that offer.

The first thing I noticed was the alphabet on the top of the chalkboard. It was the fanciest cursive I had ever seen. I learned a new cursive technique in all of the schools I attended in Massachusetts, so I figured this would just be par for the course (and this is what I blamed my poor penmanship on later in life).

Then I met “her.” The teacher. Mizzzz Skapenski. She introduced herself to me as, “I am Mizzzz Skapenski. Not ‘Miss,’ not ‘Mrs’ but ‘Mizzzz.’” She was married, but went by the Ms. title, not anything else.

I swear she was a gypsy. We never saw her hair. It was always under a gypsy-style headwrap, and she wore HUGE hoop earrings and jewelry on almost every finger. Even her clothing was in line with what you would expect an old fashioned gypsy to wear.

The alphabet wasn’t an English alphabet. While in Mizzzzz Skapenski’s class, I learned Polish from her loud, full bearded, VERY scary husband, who came to the class a few days a week.

I don’t think Mizzzz Skapenski liked me very well. One time she asked a question in spelling class, and I gave an answer, and she laughed at me (the answer was not what she was looking for but it made sense to me.) Another time I had sliced my finger quite badly and my mom had bandaged it quite well with tape and gauze and sent me off to school. I was ridiculed for having a “boo boo.”

Yes, Mizzzz Skapenski and I were not good friends. Thankfully, I only had to endure her for a few months.

In Mizzzzz Skapenski's class I first learned about "The Birds and the Bees." A student was describing a movie in gory detail that he had seen at home. From the description it had to be x-rated. When I told my parents about it and they, in turn, went to the administration, they were told that nothing could be done about what kids talk about. Thankfully the description didn't really "click" in my mind in spite of how graphic it was.

That school was also my first experience with a bully. She was probably a foot and a half shorter than me, but she didn’t like me. She met me on the bus and decided that I was her enemy. She threatened to beat me up. She set a date. My dad went to the principal, who said, “There’s nothing we can do about it unless it happens inside the school.” My dad taught me the lesson of “turn the other cheek” and insisted that I not fight back, and that God would protect me. I was scared. I was petrified. The big day came, and she started shoving me around. She stood on my foot and shoved me. Then my dad walked up. He had stayed in his car to watch the entire time and make sure I was OK. He saved me. I don’t remember much of what happened after but she left me alone.

We rode the bus to school, but the bus driver got a little too friendly with me and the other girl who lived on my street. One day when he was quite late dropping us off my mom asked about it. I told her that he had taken us on an extra drive around town after dropping all of the other kids off. After that, Rachel (the other girl) and I carpooled to school. We never rode that bus again, though I didn’t understand why until I was grown.

So if you are keeping count in my story, we are now up to five schools (public, homeschool, Christian school 1, Christian school 2, new public school) since we moved to Massachusetts in mid-second grade.

Other highlights of fourth grade include flying to California alone to visit family and friends. The stewardesses treated me like royalty and getting to drive around the airport on those people-movers was so fun. I still can’t believe my mom let me do that. I also remember my mom working hard to make the flower costume pictured below for the fourth grade musical, Alice in Wonderland. The music teacher almost didn’t let me wear it because the other kids didn’t have nice costumes. My mom had worked so hard and I remember feeling very proud to wear it when the teacher finally said ok.

To read the stories of other great ladies, visit Mommy's Piggy Tales in the link below.


Pepper said...

Oh, wow, you had a full year!! What an "interesting" school you got to attend. I'm sure that made an impression on you. LOL

And it's funny to see the comparison of the private school and the public school from your child point of view.

But it sounds just horrible to have a teacher like that. How sad that she had to pick on you like that!

And I am sooo glad you got to wear your costume. That would have been hard for your mom. I know it's hard because some mom's can't do that for their kids but still.

Gretchen said...

You certainly had quite a few encounters with difficult teachers/administrations/people in authority! How ridiculous for your music teacher to not let a nice costume on the stage. . . that's just silly! So glad it worked out. :)

Janna said...

Great story telling and description. I can see Mizzz Skapenski.

I almost cried when your dad came to rescue you! How precious!

It's such a good thing that you could talk to your parents and head off these scary circumstances!

Amber @ The Momma Stuff Blog said...

WOW it sounds like a very eventful year, and what a teacher. Definitely doesn't sound like someone you could ever forget! Love the costume...you look so happy!
Amber :)

Jan said...

That class picture is still one of my favorite of you. I am so glad God saw fit to see us through the wilderness years in Massachusetts. I love you

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Wow what a story! I love your mother's comments...isn't that so true. I think that is what I am seeing the most in doing this project is that His hand stayed on my life...even when I didn't realize it was there.
You have a wonderful memory and great details