Sixth grade with Sister Mary Anselma, I remember it well! What misery the year brought! How could such a young, sweet-looking nun be such a royal pain in the neck? Nothing I did was ever good enough!
"You can do better, dear," she would say, usually on the days it was necessary to rush through my homework. Ma should have been blamed for making me rush. I couldn't go outside until my homework was done and it did get dark mighty early in the fall. Of course, I realized that doing it well the first time was a better option. On the days when I had to re-do the previous work plus the new assignment, it got dark well before the homework was finished. This made my social life suffer as my neighborhood friends had horrible parents who made them come home before dark.
To add to my misery, Sister Mary Anselma gave me the largest part in the Christmas play, the narrator. No, I couldn't read it; I had to memorize the whole thing! Plus, being shy, I didn't appreciate being on stage the whole hour and forty-five minutes. When I tried to tell her I couldn't do it, she told me to put my protest in writing. After writing and re-writing I got an extra credit "A" for the protest; however, she still wanted me to do the narration. "It will give you a great sense of accomplishment," she replied. I could have cared less about a sense of accomplishment when all the fun had been taken out of my life. I did get a special acknowledgement at the end of the play and the audience stood up and applauded. Big deal! The nun walked around like a peacock; you'd think it was her achievement.
During Dental Week, Sister Mary Pain in the Neck put my name in for the art contest. Whoop! I did like to draw but who the heck wanted to draw dentists. Of course, I didn't want to protest because I had been there, done that. It was obvious misery was the name of the game; her game, my misery! The worst part was I won third place (two silver dollars and a stupid statue of a big smiling tooth). Adding to my dismay, the prizes were distributed at a little ceremony right smack in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Ma and dad made me go as they, also, were on the misery maker bandwagon.
It was the year from hell and I rejoiced when I found out Sister Anselma was being transferred. My friends and I went to Friendly's for sundaes to celebrate. There
was no pity for the poor unsuspecting kids who would have her in the fall; we were glad to see her go.
Well, after all these years, I finally came face to face with Sister Mary Misery. She was at the bazaar to benefit the retired nuns. I was surpised to see how well preserved she appeared. At first, I thought I would just pretend not to see her but she recognized me. At last, my chance to tell her exactly how I felt about her. Her soft, wrinkled pale hands reached out and held mine when I acknowledged her presence.
"Oh, my dear, you remember me," she said with tears in her eyes. "It is so good to be remembered."
"Of course I remember you, you mean, stinking nun. You made my life miserable and I had one lousy year in your class," my sixth grade mind thought.
But, I was no longer a child. I realized the good sister's mission in life was to get her students to do their best, not to make my sixth grade experience miserable.
I heard my adult voice say, "Of course, I remember you. You were my favorite teacher."
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