Special Friends Forever

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 13, 2017

(In fourth grade I move to a new school. On my first day of school, a group of girls comes up to me and claims me as their friend. I become really good friends with one of the girls, and the rest are fun to play with at recess. Some of the girls aren’t as smart as I am, and one is missing a leg. All of them have another class that they go to for part of the day, but being nine, I don’t really think much of it. This happens in sixth grade: My teacher has asked me to stay behind so she can talk to me before I go to recess.)

Teacher: “[My Name], I see that you’ve been playing with [Friends #1, #2, and #3]. You shouldn’t be playing with them; we will find you new friends.”

Me: “But I like my friends, and all the other kids in class are mean or are into things I’m not interested in.”

Teacher: “Well, if you stop being friends with those girls, then people wouldn’t be mean to you.”

Me: “But my friends are friends with me, no matter who I hang out with. Why should I be friends with people who don’t like me because of who I am friends with?”

Teacher: “[My Name], those girls are Day School children and you’re not. You are one of the brightest students I have, and you shouldn’t be playing with them.”

Me: *looking at my teacher in confusion* “But [Teacher], I’m a child and I go to school during the day. What am I, if not a day school child?”

Teacher: *pauses* “Just go outside and try to make new friends.”

(It took me a while to work out that “day school children” meant kids who were in special ed. By the end of seventh grade, I was no longer friends with most of the girls that I was friends with in fourth grade. Some had changed schools, and some had just drifted naturally into different groups. I’m glad I never took my teacher’s advice to abandon a group of people who had welcomed me with open arms just because my teacher thought they were different than me. I’m now in my 30s and still count one of those girls as one of my closest friends.)

Not Playing Around With That Playground

| MD, USA | Learning | January 3, 2017

(My school is for people with emotional and behavioral issues caused by their diagnosis, not people with intellectual disabilities. It’s for things like Aspergers and ADHD, people who will be able to live independently and go to college if they want, but the public school system can’t properly prepare them. There’s a playground out back with a basketball half-court that teachers take their classes to sometimes. One of the first days of ninth grade is nice, so my new class all heads out to the playground. Everyone else splits into a basketball game, and I head to the swings.)

Teacher #1: “Excuse me! You’re not allowed to be there!”

Me: “What? Me? Where? Why?”

Teacher #1: “You’re in [Teacher #2]’s class, right? High schoolers aren’t allowed on the playground.”

Me: “Why not?”

Teacher #1: “You’re too old. Regular high schoolers don’t have playgrounds, so in this school high-schoolers can’t use the playground.”

Me: “Yeah… but… he took us all out here.”

Teacher #1: “You can use the basketball court, but not the playground. When you’re a grown-up, you can’t do these sorts of things anymore. You’re going to have to learn this eventually.”

Me: “So what am I supposed to do?”

Teacher #1: “You can play basketball with your friends.”

Me: “The other students in my class harass and bully me. They don’t want to play with me and I don’t want to play with them.”

Teacher #1: “I’m sorry, but you can’t use the playground.”

(I spend the rest of the recess sitting on the curb by the blacktop. The next time the teachers bring us out, I grab my book.)

Teacher’s Assistant: “You can’t bring anything with you outside.”

Me: “I just want something to do.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You’re going outside to get exercise.”

Me: “How can I get exercise when I can’t use the playground or the blacktop?”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You’re allowed to use the blacktop.”

Me: “Whenever I’m near them all the other kids mock and belittle me. I don’t want to be on the blacktop and have everyone just throw basketballs at me and shout about how I’m a crybaby r****d. That’s not something I should have to put up with.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “Then think of something else to do.”

Me: “I did.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “You can’t bring things outside with you.”

(Thankfully it got cold soon enough so we spent all of lunch inside.)