i was enrolled in a private catholic school in lipa. my two older brothers were already in grades 5 and 3. my mother had managed to put me in the afternoon class so it will be easier for my brothers to check on me once in a while and for the three of us to go home at the same time.
our school bus usually arrived at around4:30 and left at 5 pm. since i was only in kindergarten, we were let go earlier than the upper graders. i did not wait for my brothers to pick me up, we just see each other at the parking lot then board the bus.
one particular afternoon, after class, i wandered around the parking area and did not see my brothers. this didn't worry me because they were sometimes held late for their volleyball practice, they were both varsities, knowing that i had a bit of time, i walked around the school and somehow ended in the kindergarten area. my classroom door was left open and remembering that i did not get my share of stars [they were stamped on our hands] i went in and generoulsy stamped my hands with stars. i must have been really enjoying myself because i did not even notice that the cleaning lady had already passed by and had already locked the door. i knew it was getting late as it was getting darker.
i didn't panic but i walked around the classroom thinking of a way out. at the back where the smocks were kept was a glass window that was partially broken. i was already plotting my escape when i heard my brothers shout my name. the two of them had been searching for me and were quite worried as the school bus was all ready to leave.
there i was, locked in the room. one of my brothers called the cleaning lady and i was set free. i remember one of my brothers asking me what happened [believe me, he was freaked out!] and i just said: i wanted stars.
the other incident involved a classmate and his fifth grade brother. we were walking around the kindergarten area when we saw a coin purse corked to the door, in the LOST and FOUND section. Stalin, the fifth grader, asked us to check it out. inside the purse were a bunch of 25-centavo coins. he gave us 2 each and said that we should keep it since it was just there and nobody owned it. leah [my classmate] and i took the coins and then the 3 of us walked away. not more than 3 steps after, i decided to return the money, i remember saying that it did not feel right. stalin and leah kept their money.
as we were walking away from the purse [again] Stalin [that manipulaor!!!] said that he'd give me 50 cents if i gave him something [i dont remember what] that i owned. i agreed to this, thinking that I did not steal the money he was giving me. he handed me the money, i handed him that something. just seconds after we exchanged money and stuff, i said i did not want to do it, that he should give me my thing and he can have his money back. there was a bit of discussion and in the end he asked me to just return the money to the purse.
so, i walked over to the purse and returned the money. but as i was returning it, the cleaning lady emerged and saw me. she immediately thought that i was stealing from the purse. she said: "Pstt. hoy ano yan?" i said: "Wala ho, sinosoli ko lang."
the next day, my teacher called leah and me. she asked us why we were stealing. i told her the whole story but she did not believe me. leah was crying, i wasn't. she called my mother to tell on me.
obviously, my mother was pissed. i told her the whole story and i think in the end she believed me.
now that i, too am a teacher, i think my teacher was wrong to just assume that i stole money from the purse. i was what, 6 years old and was easily manipulated. she did not even ask about what happened, she just went ahead and asked me why i was stealing.
funny, that these two incidents are still very clear to me. maybe it's because of the fear i felt back then or maybe because it was really embarrasing.
being a teacher, myself, makes me realize that our role in shaping children's life is so huge that a simple remark or something negative could leave a mark that time could not erase.
i am not damaged or whatever but i just think that my teacher should have handled it differently. i mean, she did not even give me a chance to air my side.
i guess in life, there will always be people like my kindergarten teacher, people who are quick to judge and are quick to hate.
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April 21, 2012 12:04 AM PDT
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