I was a bit of a bad ass in the fourth grade.
I totally refused to do homework and I argued regularly over the existence of words with my language arts teacher. She had very large eyeglasses, which emphasized her bulging veins when she tried to win our debates.
She just didn’t understand that she couldn’t triumph against my oblivious contentment.
I would smile, with my final argument, pointing to a scribbled paragraph, and say, “It is too a word. It’s right here.”
Then, I would skip away in a delightful exit, as if guided by a joyful hymn with lots of rhythm and clapping.
In high school, I morphed into a serious nerd who really liked learning and getting good grades to keep a super high GPA. I had friends who liked their super high GPA’s too (and some friends who just liked being super high).
But, somewhere after high school, both the little carefree fourth grader and the super serious nerd got jaded–and neurotic.
Hello, college professors who actually graded with zeros to make their first impressions.
So my next phase was a depressing attempt to become perfect, not just successful.
Grammar became so important that I started misplacing modifiers among anxiety driven content.
But, I eventually found them again as I discovered my academia groove.
I started figuring out my professors, maybe better than they knew themselves, and began catering all my content to their egos.
My feminist literature professor had all of us sit in a circle every class.
After making us drag our desks into position, she would start our weekly reading discussion with either the student to her right or her left.
(Like, she was surprising us each time. Uh oh, which way will she go this week? I don’t know so I better read the whole assignment. )
Hello, fourth grader. (She hadn’t left me after all.)
I would always sit directly across from my professor, equal distance from either side of her in the circle. By the time she reached me for my summary, I had already gathered enough from the students between us to form my necessary analysis.
Sometimes, I felt a little guilty. I actually had the highest grade in the class (yes, she announced grades in front of everyone) and I never read any of her assignments.
So, I made up for it with my final paper.
She gave us directions to use a subject from one of the feminist lit books and relate it to…feminism. So, I sort of went back and read one of the books and I picked prostitution as a subject, and related it to feminism with a business plan, allowing women to gain control of their own enterprises, without middle men, or even men at all.
I could have debated my grade with her (my fourth grader self really wanted to because the professor really left herself exposed with the ambiguity of her instructions), but I think I hurt her feminist feelings so I took my D, which still left me with an A- for the semester.
I kind of enjoyed the grade, like a little badge that I was still able to think for myself.
Oddly, she had very thick glasses, too.