Her name was Mrs. Reed. She was my grade 4 teacher at the school in the town I call Hopeless. The school I attended from kindergarten through grade 4 was called The Blessed Virgin of the Bleeding Heart Elementary – well, that is the name I have now given the school. It was a private Catholic institution comprised of children from wealthy Catholic families, poor families, aboriginal children, and kids like myself – whose parents were trying to give them a better education.
Of course (as you can read in my very first blog post from 2011) I ended up being abused through my early education. Recently I stumbled across a picture I had torn and thrown away as a child. My mother had rescued it from the garbage and tucked it away. This picture (below) was the last photo I would have of myself from that school. We had been making our own bean bag frogs in class, and this picture signifies the fruits of our labour. It was shortly after this photo that my mother rescued me from that school. You see, in order to maintain discipline in her class, Mrs. Reed used a fowl mouth and her trusty electric tea kettle. All too early I learned that if you were late, or the last on in class, you may succumb to her mastery of the kettle cord whip. Now this cord was not like a modern teak kettle cord. The prong was not a small plastc or rubberized bit. This kettle cord was made of bakelite. It was hard, solid and very big. We would have to line up to enter and leave class, and if you were slow enough to be the last one in the door, then you were at her peril. Very quickly the faster, leaner boys would rush inside, leaving the slower fatter children to be at the end. I was the shortest and the fattest child. According to Mrs. Reed, I was a disgrace to God and to the school, and as such she took no mercy in striking my abomination of a body with her cord. We wore long pants and long sleeved shirts in school (for the most part), so the marks from her endeavours went unnoticed for a long time. I learned to live with the welts on my arms, legs, back, stomach – everywhere her improvised whip could strike. She took great pride in her prowess – and she was above us all, administering punishment for being slow. My mother eventually discovered my welts and immediately removed me from that school. Because she was not a priest, I was confident that my family would not be harmed by God and that I could tell on her. It would be many years before I would come forward about the abuse by priests – and even then, as an adult, a small part of me worried that my confession would lead to destruction of my family – after all, I was an abomination and a disgrace to God. My abusers had been able to keep me silent as a child, but now as an adult it is my directive to spread the word of abuse, abusers and healing in hopes to bring about a world where abuse towards children are only read about as a part of history and not as acts performed in secrecy as soul crushing murder. My motto is my creed – maxima debetur puero reverentia – We owe the greatest respect to the child. May the Force be with you.