Holding It

4th grade was a very memorable year for me - I don't suppose because of any specific reason, I just have many vivid memories of that time.  I think this was around the time that I realized that I was shorter than everyone else.  I grew up in a generally safe, but conservative and mean-spirited town called Aurora, and the meanness extended up to the public schoolteachers. The Aurora public school system is well-funded now, but it certainly wasn't in the 1980s, and that no doubt made the teaching population very pissy.  If you were to compare the schools now to how they used to be, it's like night and day.  There were literally no male teachers in our elementary school, to give you a sense of how small-town Aurora was a mere 25 years ago.


My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Edwards was in retrospect quite a lovely woman.  Sure, she could get surly sometimes when the children misbehaved, but she had a very kind manner about her, and you rarely felt fearful in her presence.  The other teachers in the 4th grade were a far different story.  There was the monstrous Mrs. Houghton, a towering woman who terrorized my older sister when she was in the 4th grade.  On a few occasions they would rotate the teachers between the classrooms for a portion of the day, and one day Mrs. Houghton angrily declared our class to be "The most boring class ever."  But that's not who my big problem was with...


Yes indeed, the young upstart Mrs. Shepherd, she couldn't have been older than I am today. Her classroom was only door down the hall from ours.  On occasions on which I would be in the hallway, I would turn my head to look in her classroom, because that's just kind of how I've always been. Sometimes there would be students in the classroom and she would be teaching, other times the students were away and she would be sitting and working at her desk. Eventually I began to notice her making eye contact with me and giving me dirty looks when I would look into her classroom.  It then became a dare to myself to do it more often.  One day her door was shut, and I made it a point to stretch up and look for just a moment through her door window.  I can't remember if I saw her notice me, but she must have, because moments later she walked out into the hallway and (paraphrasing) asked me what my problem was.  I probably said "Nothing," or said nothing, and walked to the bathroom.


One day when her door was open, I noticed an interesting poster on her classroom wall when walking back from the restroom.  I made a point to walk out of her sight so I could explore the poster further (honest).  I don't know how she knew I stopped near her door, but she burst out and asked me what I was doing.  I probably said "Nothing," or said nothing.


A couple days later I was on my way to the restroom, and I walked past Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Shepherd talking to each other quietly in the hallway.   I was almost to the restroom when I heard Mrs. Edwards shout at me, "PETER!  COME HERE!"  It was one of those butthole clenching moments.  She asked me why I had been "wandering the halls(?)," and advised me that Mrs. Shepherd had found me "hiding behind her door" the other day.  I was too terrified to explain away my innocent yet eccentric behavior, so I just kept my mouth shut.  She told me that she would let me know when it was okay for me to go to the bathroom again.  She never did tell me it was okay, so about a month later I asked, and she was okay with it/or had forgotten about the whole thing.


I never really got the deal Mrs. Shepherd - what exactly was her problem?  Was she a paranoid person? Did she just not like my large bespectacled head peering at her?   I maintain that I was just a curious kid, and didn't do anything wrong.  I hope she got fired for being mean to me.


FYI, I used the real names of the teachers, because who cares.  Below is a screenshot of the Wikipedia page for my high school that I recently vandalized: