I’m so glad I’m not a kid in this day and age. Not because being a kid in this day and age is a bad thing but ME being a kid in this day and age would not be pretty. You see, I’ve always been outspoken and I’ve always had strong convictions for as long as I can remember. When all the other kids were focused on playing outside, I was inside listening to the adult conversation. That’s what I preferred. My strong convictions often found me in the principal’s office and they never really knew what to make of me. Fortunately, I had parents who were willing to correct me when I was wrong but who stood behind me when I was right. Today, I would undoubtedly be in the media, especially for one particular occurrence of standing up for my convictions.
In elementary school, part of our “physical education” was square dancing. I thought that was absurd. Ms. Belyew (I think I recall her name correctly) lined all the girls and boys up facing each other. She assigned our partners. I found myself across from a boy by the name of Jeffrey. I refused to dance with Jeffrey and I stated as such out aloud and in front of everyone the moment she started the music. Ms. Belyew pulled me aside and ordered me to comply or I’d find myself in the principal’s office. I told her that she may as well send me to the principal’s office then, because I would not be dancing with Jeffrey. I offered to explain to her why I refused to dance with Jeffrey but she wouldn’t hear it. She didn’t care and was only pissed off that I would not do what she told me to do.
So, there I found myself in Evil Eva’s office. She was officially Mrs. Eva Clark but to all the kids she was Evil Eva. And evil she was. But we’ll get to that later. She sat me down and told me that my behavior was unacceptable and that she would be calling my parents. She did just that and sent me back to class to continue square dancing. I told her that I would not square dance and she could not force me to. So, she decided that I could do floor aerobics while the rest of the class had their square dancing lesson.
When I got home, my parents broached the issue with me and I explained to them that I had two reasons for refusing to dance with Jeffrey. First of all, the boy stank to high heaven with body odor. I mean, he STANK. It was pretty sickening. Secondly, I explained that I didn’t find square dancing or any kind of partner dancing at all, to be appropriate in physical education. I reasoned that dancing was a social activity and that I should be able to choose when, where and with whom I want to participate in such an activity (and yes, I really did speak in that manner as a kid). My parents agreed with me 100% and upon meeting with Evil Eva a day or two later, informed her that it was HER actions which were inappropriate and unacceptable and that neither her nor Ms. Belyew would be giving such orders to me ever again.
They didn’t. In fact, they stopped the square dancing all together. The fact is, they had no right to impose such things on me. Furthermore, what kind of message does it send to a boy when a girl can be made to dance with them against their wishes? That’s a recipe for a future rapist.
By the way, Jeffrey happened to be a black boy and that was the assumed reason for my refusal to dance with him. Neither Ms Belyew, nor Evil Eva (both white women) even allowed me the opportunity to explain my reasons, neither of which were even loosely related to his race. It was just assumed. Take that same incident today and I would suddenly be a black-hating, racist little white girl and there would be tweets all over the place about people wanting to kill me, likely.
Oh, I promised earlier that I would explain Evil Eva, didn’t I? Well, here’s just one example of many which illustrate her backwards, evil thinking. A number of years later, she did find herself on the 6:00 news. 2 little 5th grade boys – one black and one white – were dragged to her office for calling each other “nigger.” Her remedy was write the word, “nigger” on two pieces of posterboard, punch holes in them, insert string through the holes and place one around each of the little boys’ necks. Really? All her years of teaching and serving as a principal and that’s her brililant, educated solution? She found herself with a position at the Board of Education after that incident.
I wonder if she ever learned her lesson. She’s probably dead now and I have some serious doubts whether she ever even got a glimpse of St Peter at the gate.