those who can’t teach.

I would like to preface this post by saying, I was a total a**hole in high school. It was 2006, the height of all things emo. I had short hair, dyed my hair black and listened to ridiculous emo music. Keep that in mind when reading the rest of this post. 

As the school year in the Northern Hemisphere comes to an end, I can’t help but think back of my time in school. I look at my girls and hope that they have better luck than I did when it came to dealing with low self esteem, mean teachers, and bullies.

I was bullied pretty badly in elementary and middle school, so much so that I made it a point to apply to a magnet school where I would know NO ONE and be able to start fresh. Little did I know that I would never really fit in there. People tried to get to know me but I lived an hour away from most of my classmates and couldn’t form any solid relationships outside of regular school hours. Mix that with teenage hormones and repressed anger,  you’ve got yourself a staring down the barrel of depression and anxiety.

Sophomore year was when my parents decided it was time I start seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. I tried Zoloft, Prozac, and Adderall. It was also the year I started hanging out with friends who drank, smoked, and dabbled with illicit drugs.

Junior year I was desperate. I was fat, lonely, and at the time, thought I was going to die a virgin because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was so starved for attention from boys that I was trying to get it any way I could. And so I started talking to Toby*. Toby and I were friends who had known each other since freshman year. He was one of the popular kids at school. Always involved in extra curricular activities and on the school broadcasting channel.

We used to take the bus and train home from school together. One afternoon, during our commute home, we somehow kissed. I don’t remember the details other than he and I started writing notes to each other afterwards. At a certain point I realized that I didn’t actually have feelings for him  and couldn’t lead him on. Being the teenage idiot that I was, decided that the best way to express that to him was to write it in a note and deposit the note in his locker.

In my note I wrote about my smoking and depression and probably a bunch of other stuff that was way too personal to put on paper but didn’t have the foresight to know better. I walked into my AP Composition class and see the note I wrote to him stapled onto the class bulletin board. Needless to say, I was stunned. And while my teacher, Ms. Ruiz, didn’t say anything directly to me, she made sarcastic offhand remarks alluding to the letter. And that’s when the floodgates opened to my being bullied again in my new school.

My classmates took her lead and started laughing about it openly. I was mortified. I felt betrayed. I felt worthless. I found myself dreading school and longing for the days when all kids teased me about was my weight or purple hair. It got so bad that I had to switch schools midway through the year.

Now I see that event as blessing in my life. I was able to reconnect with my best friend. I was able to pull my grades high enough to go to college and get a scholarship. I was able to have a true high school experience filled with clubs, dances, band, and football games.

But that experience led me to be wary of teachers. I never allowed myself to open up in class again. It makes me wary of those who teach my daughters. I’ll forever be cautious of those in positions of power because this one woman, who is still an educator, decided to belittle me instead of pulling me aside and asking if I was okay. Instead of offering help, sending me to the counselors office, or even calling my parents, because what 16 year old should be smoking or drinking, she used my weaknesses against me to make me feel minute.

If you’re a teacher reading this, especially a high school teacher, know that your indifference to your students emotional wellbeing causes as much harm as the hurtful things their peers say or do to them. It is your job as an educator to uplift and encourage your students. If you can’t do that then at the very least don’t be another stumbling block in the already bumpy road that is adolescence.

*Name changed to protect myself from drama. 

O Christmas Tag!

I’ve been looking for more ways to get involved on the blog without having to write so much (I’m lazy, I know). This week I was really lucky to read Angie Americana’s Christmas Tag post as part of her Blogmas post series.

It reminds me of the days of MySpace questionnaires and couldn’t help but get the urge to fill it out myself. Hope you enjoy!

1. What’s you favorite Christmas film?

How can you pick just one? I can’t so I’ll divide it between my favorite animated film and favorite live action film. Home Alone definitely takes the cake in the live action category. Because duh, it was every kids dream to be Kevin!  The Nutcracker Prince (1990) is my favorite Christmas animated film. My sister and I used to watch it on loop growing up during the holidays. It really isn’t Christmas until we dust off the VHS player, make popcorn and drink hot chocolate while watching it.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Nope, I wish. Especially since every Christmas in the foreseeable future is going to be during the summer.

3. Where do you usually spend your holidays?

Up until three years ago I spent my holidays in Miami. But when we moved to Uruguay we’ve been here.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?

‘Jingle Bells’ by Frank Sinatra. Best. Song. Ever.

5. Do you open you presents on Christmas eve?

Honestly it depends on the year. Growing up we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas eve and would have to wait for Christmas morning to open the rest. But as I got older we would just open them on Christmas eve. Now that Paloma is around we’ll probably go back to opening gifts on Christmas morning.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Nope! I’ve never been good at remembering any of them except for Rudolph.

7. What holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year?

Right now I’m most excited to start new traditions with Carlos and Paloma. We put up and decorated our tree the day after Thanksgiving as a family. We are taking PJ to meet Santa sometime in the next few days. As Paloma gets older I’m sure we’ll develop and add new traditions.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

It’s fake! I miss the smell of pine trees around this time of year but sadly Uruguay doesn’t offer real trees. [See featured image above].

9. What is your all-time favorite Christmas sweet/treat?

Turron. And not the soft, mushy kind either. It needs to be jaw-breaking hard. Mmmmmmm….

10. Be honest: Do you like giving gifts or receiving them better?

I love giving gifts! I like to think I’m really good at it. I spend MONTHS researching and really listening to everyone to see what would be the best gift.

11. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. Right now I’d have to say it was our last year in Miami. I had been wanting this Marc by Marc Jacobs purse for ages and Carlos said we couldn’t afford it. But he ended up surprising me with it on Christmas eve. I still use it every day and it’s in perfect condition.

12. What would be your dream place to visit for the holidays?

Anywhere that it snows. I would LOVE to experience a white Christmas.

13. Are you a Pro present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?

Oh man, I’d say I’m average. I don’t really put much effort into gifts given to my family members because I know how savage we are at unwrapping. But when it comes to extended family or friends, I put more care into presentation.

14. Most memorable holiday moment?

My last Christmas with my grandpa. He died on Christmas eve when I was seven, causing a lasting and lingering cloud around the holidays, but before he passed he spent the evening with us. I remember opening my gifts from him and freaking out over a Little Mermaid nightgown. I remember the smile on his face as I jumped up and down like a sugar-addicted kangaroo. I don’t know, just something about that moment always makes me smile.

15. What made you realize the truth about Santa?

No idea, but I’ll bet it had something to do with my sister.

16. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you stick to them?

Every year but I always break them. I can’t even remember what my resolutions were for this year–I’m sure there’ll be a post on that coming up–but I can tell you if I accomplished one it’s one too many.

17. What makes the holidays special for you?

My family. It’s going to be weird celebrating Christmas this year without my sister.