This week, however, in my attempt to get back into a writing routine, I chose an unforgettable episode of my growing up years that applies to the marked section of the prompt.
How strict were teachers when you were in school? What were common methods of discipline? No recess? Writing sentences? Being sent to the principal's office? Were "pops" or "swats" allowed? Did you ever get in "big" trouble at school? If so, what was it for and what happened to you? Were you ever suspended from school? If you got in trouble at school, what happened at home? Was school lunch a pretty relaxed environment or was discipline maintained in the cafeteria as well? If you are a teacher, what have you vowed never to do as a result of your experiences growing up?After some hesitation, I decided to share it with you:
“What have you done?” asked my mother as soon as she saw us. I came back from school very early, red-eyed, tear-stained AND accompanied by my boyfriend. Why was I not in school? Why so distressed? And what was he doing there anyway? We didn't go to the same school, or at least not at the same time.
Our budding adolescent attraction had not gone unnoticed by my parents. I knew they disapproved. Their fear and worry was evident. They could not forbid us to date, that social custom did not exist in Argentina as we know it in the U.S, nor could they keep us from participating in youth group events and outings. As young people we were quite involved in ministry. We used to travel, five or six of us, by train to a neighboring town, then walk to an open area where I began to play the accordion, the children gathered and we taught them Bible lessons.
What my parents did not know was that J and I were seeing each other more and more often outside of those planned times. J lived around the corner from my house, a mere two short blocks away. He waited for me at the corner every morning and walked with me to the bus stop. There were no school buses, we used public transport if necessary. As time went on, we spent more and more time together. He began to accompany me on the fifteen to twenty minute bus ride, and then walk with me to the school, a dozen or so blocks away even though this meant he would have to make his way back home only to turn around a few hours later and return to the same school building for his classes. The Normal school, for teachers, convened there in the morning; the college prep school system, Nacional, met in the afternoon; and there was another secondary-level institution that used the facility in the evening.
When we were apart, we left little notes in nicks in the classroom walls or tree hollows in the school yard. Usually these were rolled up bus tickets where we had written Te quiero over and over and over.
One morning J hung around longer than usual, he lingered outside the school fence and we were surreptitiously talking when the disciplinarian, the preceptora, came over, reprimanded us harshly, called me into the office and I, the perfect little student, was sent home, suspended, not allowed to return until the next day and only if accompanied by my parents. This had to be the worst day of my life.
J was waiting for me, not about to let me face parental wrath on my own. He was there to explain and take the blame. I don't know if his bravery paid off or not. We were in big trouble.
I don't think we met much after that. But our special friendship continued, albeit through many ups and downs. When the time came for my parents' furlough from missionary service, the parting from my friends, and J in particular, was very difficult.
I am eager to read your stories and interested in hearing from you whether you think my experience was unusual or not because of being a TCK (Third Culture Kid) growing up in another culture.