I was doing a writing exercise the other day and the premise was that you had to write about a time someone was mean to you. I wrote about a time my mum said something which had quite an affect on me, although she wasn’t actually being mean. It was the most mean-like thing I could think of. Lucky me!
When I was around six or seven I went to ‘The Common School‘ – not because it was full of common people (although aren’t we all common people?) but because it was situated in the middle of a common. It was a lovely old Victorian school and there were only three classes; a select few of the mainstream school were chosen to go there.
My mum used to walk me to school and during our walks we would chat about all sorts of things and put the world to rights. One time my mum told me that I shouldn’t worry about looks because what was important was your personality. I’m sure she meant for me to take away from this that, when I chose a mate, I shouldn’t take account of how good looking he is. I hope she meant this. Perhaps she’d had a row with my dad the night before and was reflecting on how her life would have been if she’d married a nine to five two point four children likes DIY and only drinks at Christmas kind of a man.
At the time, I didn’t consider this possibility. What I thought was that she was telling me that, due to my shortcomings in the ‘looks’ department, I could definitely not rely on them to get me a boyfriend so I should perhaps concentrate on the inner me. Maybe this is why I was always trying to be ‘the funny one’ at school.
Anyway, as I continued with my free writing I began to consider why I was taken out of the mainstream primary school my sisters attended and sent to the Common School. I realised I’ve always thought that it was a school for the more gifted children; the special ones. But it occurred to me at that precise moment of writing that I may have been sent there because I ‘had problems’. What if that was the truth? I expect I was told I was going to a ‘special’ school because I was ‘special’ – they always say that to children who aren’t towing the line. No one would have said to me “Sandi, we’re sending you to the Common School because you’re a total fuck up and we need to keep you away from the normal kids”.
The worst part about it is I can’t ask my mum because, due to her Alzheimer’s, she can’t tell me. I doubt my dad has a clue what schools I went to or why so this will remain a mystery for ever. If anyone knows why children were sent there in the early 1970’s drop me a line.
And talk to your mums while they still know who you are.
(I kind of like the idea that I was a fuck up, though!).