When I was in Year Three at school, 40 years ago, I remember my mother told me that she thought I was breaking my neck about getting into hospital, but it wasn’t so much that I wanted to get sick enough to have to be admitted to hospital, but a deeper reason. And at the same time, I remember one kid in my class went on a five-week holiday to Greece and another to Honolulu and mainland USA. Again, it wasn’t so much that I wanted the things they had, but something deeper.
I had my first overnight stay in hospital this year and it wasn’t too bad, and I remember, when I was in Year Three, there was one boy in my class with suspected appendicitis or kidney problems (I remember it was the middle session one Thursday when he told the teacher he had a pain in his stomach, and she sent him up to the office. The next day, the other teacher told us that he was in hospital with one of those conditions). It turned out that the boy had a broken tailbone. I remember this same teacher saying that he went up and saw the boy in hospital. Also, that year, a girl in my class had bad asthma and had to be admitted to hospital twice.
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to go to hospital, but that that was a traumatic year at school, and I just wanted it to end or at the least have a break from it. I remember, 40 years ago, today, my mother and another kid in my class’s mother had an agreement that my mother would take him and me to school and in the afternoon his mother would bring us home, and that afternoon, his mother said that I had to go back to their place as my brother was going into hospital for something. My brother was bored, and he kept pushing the buzzer and asking the nurses for a sausage roll, when he was nil by mouth. A man finally brought him a TV on his first morning in the hospital.
The boy with the broken tailbone had been something of a naughty, but not bad or wicked boy, and one thing I’ve never forgotten with him was, the female teacher that year was unreasonable and would demand students give her a written apology for the most minor of transgressions. I remember this boy asked her something, when she demanded one from him, and she stood him in front of the class, shouted at us that he didn’t know what an apology was, and turned him around and smacked his backside before propelling him out of the room. The boy got a small piece of paper and wrote “Sorry” on it, and the teacher kept him in at morning tea. A more reasonable person might have just accepted a verbal apology and been done with it, especially considering his crime was talking in class not stealing money from the teacher’s purse.
The girl had also copped being yelled at for unreasonable things, but when they were in hospital, the teacher wanted each member of the class to come up with a joke for each of them, as they were both in hospital at the same time. The teacher even asked if any of us had been to see either of them. Needless to say, had I been in hospital but been able to advocate for myself, if one of the teachers had wanted to see me, they’d have been told no, or if I’d agreed, it would have been with a nurse present and really quickly.
What I will say would have been a disaster would have been if I’d missed too much school and the teacher had said that I should repeat the year. As it was, three people from that year had to repeat the year and they all had the female teacher, who was horrible. My mother told me that I would be one of the ones repeating, but she was wrong. And what made that teacher even worse was, I remember one day she announced to the whole class that one kid’s mother thought he was progressing to Year Four, but he was staying in Year Three, and I thought, even if that was true, it’s NOT the sort of thing you announce to the class! The only way I could have repeated Year Three would have been at a different school or at least with a different teacher. As it was, the following year I had a lovely teacher, also female, and I was a far happier, less anxious student.