Recently The Pioneer Woman posed a question asking her readers to comment about their worst year in school. Here's mine:
First grade–by far.
I was painfully shy, very small for my age, and absolutely terrified of the teacher. "Mrs. Ratchet" was 100 years old, at least, and had blue hair which matched her blue legs; and I remember being horrified and strangely curious about the odd tangle of lines that made up her legs. (BTW, poetic justice– after bearing 4 children, I now have a varicose vein or two of my very own.) Mrs. R. would sit in a rocker for story time and assemble all her wards on the floor around her as she read. She smelled like moth balls and wore black pointy shoes just like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Anyway, not only did this teacher look nightmarish, but her very presence was terrifying as well. She was terribly intimidating and would stealth around the classroom, meandering in and out of the desks, armed with her weapon of choice . . . a red ballpoint pen. Not only did she delight in marking our papers with it, but she would also wield it at random upon unsuspecting students –any lapse of attention from a student or aberrant behavior would result in a swift and firm smack on the top of the head of the offender. I was so frightened of her that I literally could not do my work in class and sat trembling for the better part of the year.
I distinctly remember one particular incident involving the little girl who sat next to me. Apparently Cheryl (who resembled the SNL character Mary Katherine Gallagher) must have suffered allergies and was forever blowing her nose. Rather than disposing of the used tissues in the wastebasket, for months she discreetly stashed them inside her desk--probably afraid to leave her seat. I can still see the veins popping, the tissues flying, and the red pen flailing when "Mrs. Ratchet" finally discovered the stash in poor Cheryl’s desk. :( I am almost certain that Mrs. R. was a distant relative of Attila the Hun.