Wednesday, August 25, 2010

He Had Yellow Eyes!

My daughter has always had a lot of anxiety the first few weeks of school. This anxiety intensifies if she is starting a new school, which she's only done a couple of times in her life. Once when she transitioned from day care to pre-school and again when she left pre-school for elementary school. This year, not only is she starting a new school year, but she's also starting a new school, and she's now in middle school. She's had a big transition. Luckily, the new school has administrators who firmly believe in making the new school year a good experience for everyone, so she's actually been able to spend a decent amount of time talking with the counselor and getting herself acclimated to her new environment.

The poor thing gets it honest. I never enjoyed school. I cried the first few days at the start of every school year, all the way up until 4th grade. That was the year my parents moved into the house where I grew up and I started a new school. I was determined that would be the year I didn't cry....but I did. Only a little though.

But that was a far cry from my earlier days. When I first started kindergarten I cried. This continued on to first, second, and third grades. Only there was no really cool school counselor to give me an in-school therapy session. I remember my third grade teacher sat me at a desk in the back of the room and had me put my head down while I sobbed. When she asked me why I was crying, I told her I missed my dog and I missed my mother. And I was quite sure my mother was missing me! One day, during one of my crying episodes, this evil boy named Steve who looked exactly like Scut Farkus from the movie "A Christmas Story" came up to me and said in his most patronizing voice "Do you miss your mommy....and your doggie?". Then he burst into laughter. I hated that kid. In fact, later that school year he was forced to stay after school every single day for about 5 minutes to give me and my friend enough time to run home. I should look that kid up on Facebook and give him a piece of my mind.

Anyway, in the first or second grade, my mother took me to the doctor. Not a therapist or anything, just our regular family doctor (I'm not sure I was even seeing a pediatrician at that point. They probably hadn't been invented. Please keep in mind this was the late 1960's). My mother wanted to find out what was wrong. Why I cried at school. I guess the answer about us missing each other wasn't getting it for her. The doctor examined me and asked me a bunch of questions, then he gave my mother his official diagnosis. "School-a-phobia", fear of going to school. I'm quite sure that isn't a word, but that's what the doctor told my mother.

In retrospect I guess that was probably my first psychological profile, and the first attempt at finding out what was wrong with me--why I worried incessantly and let that constant worrying interfere with my life. It's a question I still explore all the time. It's just that now I have fancier names for it than school-a-phobia.

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