One Life Lesson With a Small Side of Abuse…Please

Sep 7, 2023

When I was aged 10 in the 5th grade, I attended a Catholic School. My mom actually was my teacher. (That is a topic for another story.)

This school was an “Academy.” I’m not sure if by adding the word Academy to the end of the school’s name it meant a higher level of education. I am certain that it did add another level of discipline that doesn’t exist anymore.

When you are a 10-year-old kid, you are prone to making stupid decisions and acting irresponsibly. But as far as the school was concerned, youthful stupidity didn’t serve as an excuse for anything.

So, it was one day as we were rushing into the car to get to school that I realized I had forgotten my gym clothes. We had a daily PE period at school. Even in the 5th grade.

“It’s OK Mark,” mom said, “I’ll write you a note.”

The class was lined up on their spots. It was a large group – probably 40 to 50 kids. I took my “note” to Father Larry, who was leading the PE session.

He proceeded to read my note at the top of his voice to all the students in the class. It went something like this. “Please excuse Mark today because he forgot his gym clothes!” “Well, well, well” he said to the class, “why should we excuse Mark?” “Can’t he remember his own gym clothes every day?”

“Seems like what we have here is a momma’s boy that can’t do anything for himself!”

You can imagine how that felt. Sure, I felt like crying but couldn’t. Most of the kids were snickering. Some were laughing. You get the picture.

I’ll tell you one thing. I NEVER forgot my gym clothes again. The fear of the same punishment again was enough to change my future behavior.

In day’s past, society expected goofy 10-year-old boys to be accountable for simple things.

Yet today, we often don’t hold many adults accountable for important things! And, as a result, we become less disciplined and less responsible in our behaviors. Look around.

Some might argue that this action was abusive. Maybe it was…by today’s standards. However, some simple life lessons need to be learned the hard way, so that more difficult lessons can be learned more easily.