‘Excuse me can you tell me where the school is? Mum stopped and asked. The woman pointed to a low, long building not too far away. ‘Thank you.’
So this was it. This was my school. I was proud and happy, finally I was going. Resplendent in my brand new uniform I hurried along, leaving Mum and my younger sister and brother behind.
We walked into the new building and were greeted by the headmistress Miss Pope. She was used to RAF kids starting school during term time so I didn’t faze her. With barely a backward glance to my family I followed her down to Class 6 and to meet my new teacher Mrs Potter and my new classmates.
My walk was evident, even as a small child
I loved everything about Mrs Potter. She was cuddly, round faced with red cheeks and her classroom was a delight. One wall was glass that let in the big shiny sun and the other three were covered in children’s paintings of the brightest, most vibrant colours I’d ever seen. I knew I was going to be happy here.
What did these strange words mean?
But the three ‘Rs’ wasn’t the only education I received in my first few days at school. I learned words I’d never heard before and then I’d go home and ask Mum or Dad what they meant. I asked simple questions like ‘What is a spastic? What does a cripple mean?’ I didn’t know. I knew what funny feet meant. I knew what pain meant but these words I didn’t understand. As gently as they could my parents explained and told me that they were nasty words and nobody should call me by them. Mum even had a word with Miss Pope but that didn’t stop my classmates from calling me names. And every time they did – it hurt.
My sister, brother, me and the big brown boots
They laughed at my big, clumpy orthopaedic boots, the way I walked flat footed across the hall during PE and team games I was always the last to be picked. There were times I’d hide in the toilets and cry, wishing I was normal, just like the other kids. I didn’t say anything to the teachers, I kept it from my parents and began dreading going to school.
I decided to fight back
Then one day everything changed and I fought back literally. Tony was quite a big child for his age and used his physique to bully the other kids, more often than not me. He started calling me names so I kicked him with my boots. He burst into tears and went and told Mrs Potter. Within minutes I was in Miss Pope’s office. I can still see her now with her jet black bouffant hairstyle and bright red crimplene dress with matching lips, she was stern but kind. ‘Susan dear,’ she said. ‘I know it was very wrong of Tony to call you names but really dear you shouldn’t have kicked him.’ Then she let me go.
We became friends and a valuable lesson was learnt
Tony and I apologised to each other and became friends after that, both of us having learned a valuable lesson at the age of five. Tony learned about bullying, I learned to stand up for myself but as my lovely Mum used to say ‘only horses kick.’