Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Authority: What was Dad Thinking?

My father, an authority on most things, got the education thing wrong when we moved to Guam. After speaking to other authorities on the subject, he decided the Catholic school curriculum was more advanced, therefore better than the public schools. He enrolled my older sister and me in Catholic school. We failed miserably. My science teacher, a nun from Korea, talked so fast that spit ejected from her mouth, and her scribbles on the board were confusing and useless to me.  

It wasn’t only our grades that suffered, our behavior took a bad spin too. Seemed everywhere we turned we were breaking some rule or another, skirt lengths, bubble gum, make-up, the wrong kind of scarf or headband, and once my sister had a note sent home; holding hands with her boyfriend in the hallways. I saw a lot worse things going on in the hallways, but I think those nuns had it in for us, the Jewish sisters.

Jewish girls in a Catholic school. What was Dad thinking?

With each infraction of the code there was a fine, a dollar for chewing gum, or for skirts rolled up. The note home for the boyfriend was probably the last straw. After a few short months my Dad had had enough. Between the lousy grades and the fines he yanked us out of there and plopped us in public school where we behaved like angels or no one seemed to notice us.  

Public school had a few challenges of its own. We picked up the nasty habit of cigarette smoking so we could fit in, but we steered clear of anything dangerous like getting involved in the fights between rival gangs of Guamanians and Filipinos. Once, when a girl in the bathroom demanded a cigarette and I didn’t have one she threatened to beat me up. Luckily the bell rang. I always carried extra cigarettes after that.

With improved grades and no fines, Dad was happy and could go back to being the authority figure I loved and respected.  

(This post is a sample of a book project, stories and poems, about growing up in Guam.)

photo by stjohnschool