I started my idea for this post to talk about my incident with the virus but somehow somewhere, some deeper memories surfaced around the time which needed to be let out.
This year marks ten years from the time I first had Chicken Pox. I was a late bloomer to have it at the age of 15. It also marks ten years for one of the important life lessons I learned.
I remember the day quite well. It was a Wednesday morning, around the third period.
I was feeling a little “icky” when I had arrived at school. It didn’t really bother me because by that age I was aware of PMS problems which came and went without warnings.
I remember having my English lesson, my Mathematics lesson and my third period was to be my Study Room time, a.k.a. Free Period.
Around this time I realised that little red spots had started popping up on my arms, and I was feeling an itch everywhere. I honestly didn’t think of suspecting Chicken Pox. We usually had a teacher on standby in the Study Room when they didn’t have a class to teach. I approached the teacher, who I believe was Miss van der Westhuizen, my Mathematics teacher.
I showed her my skin and she suggested I speak to Miss Tina, the Headmistress. Apart from her high label on the food chain, she also gave classes; if my memory doesn’t let me down, English and Afrikaans. The high school I attended was a private one, following a Cambridge education regime. Every year we were about 60 students so there was no need to have a teacher for every subject on its own. Some of the teachers taught more than one subject.
Miss Tina and I shared a discreet mutual agreement about each other – we didn’t like each other. I’m not sure of her reasons, but I have a hunch.
I wasn’t a great student. I wasn’t an okay student. I was a crappy student. I was in class, I took my notes, I did my homework but I did badly on my tests and I failed a few exams, two years in a row. I have my reason as to why I stopped caring about my education, but now is not the time or the place to discuss it.
Miss Tina prided herself in running an outstanding school with a high pass rate. Here I was, damping her style.
I didn’t like her because of the way she treated me compared to the other students. She was always cold towards me. She was snappy and short with her conversations with me as if she couldn’t wait to get away from me. I watched how she treated the other students; laughing, making jokes and seemingly enjoying their company. I envied them for not having to feel like outsiders.
I wrote another piece called “In High School I Was…” about who I was in high school. I just never mentioned that that was the second high school I attended. I landed up there because Miss Tina explained curtly that I wasn’t going to be part of the school for my fourth year due to failing my June exams.
I was a ‘no-one’ at my first high school as well.
I moved around between groups as well in the three years I was there. I forgot about any morals I might have had at that age. I had no direction for myself or my education. I changed myself a few times so that I was accepted. No matter who I ‘became’, I was never welcomed.
So maybe she didn’t like me because of my “bad reputation”.
“I get it. It’s fine.”
My mom spent more time in her office, being told of my bad grades than probably all the kids’ parents put together. That was pretty much my mom’s life for two years.
Getting back to the story of my C-Pox, I went to see Miss Tina and explain to her that I might have Chicken Pox. I remember she was giving class and it was clear I was a nuisance for being there.
I explained to her what I suspected was happening and that I was wondering if I should rather go home. “I didn’t know that it was highly contagious, my mistake. “
As coldly as ever, she snarled, “I would think that you needed to leave the school then.”
No warmth, no concerns, no worries.
This was the point in my life where I was starting to realise that people didn’t really care about you, no matter what your situation was. Even her finding out about my real struggles that were changing my life didn’t change her attitude towards me.
At this stage, I realised just how lonely life could get when you’re standing apart from the crowd. I just didn’t realise yet how much further loneliness could take you as life went on.
Today I still think about the lesson I learned about hoping that people care. You’ll find your selected few that will care. Some will pretend to care and forget as soon as they leave your company.
The silver lining for the C-Pox incident was that my Mathematics teacher, Miss v.d. W, got the C-Pox from me and she was booked off for almost two weeks. She had it pretty bad; apparently the older you are, the worse you experience it.
It was a nice two weeks without any lessons, but we had a crap load of catching up to get through once she was back.