Most kids learn to hate school some time around middle school; but for me the hatred came as early as kindergarten in which I began to feel like school was a prison.
I was a free-spirited child, quiet and rule-abiding, got good grades and said please and thank you. But inside, I questioned the purpose of a soul-crushing institution called school.
School was like that square hole square peg toy where only certain types of people fit in. What if I wanted to be an awesome, sparkly, star shaped peg? Where did I belong? Certainly not in school.
In kindergarten, I was told I had to choose a hand to write and cut with. I was told I had to sleep at nap time. I was told I had to sit Indian-style and not on my knees. I got sent to the corner for telling the teacher that her threat of "your legs will get stuck that way" meant my knees could get stuck Indian style too. I got told I couldn't put hand-drawn asparagus in our Father's Day tool belt craft, because daddies want tools not vegetables. She wouldn't accept that a dad might prefer the creative asparagus belt best. I got told lots of stuff that hurt. Lots of things were said or directed to try and shape me a certain way.
A few days into school was when my distaste for school officially began. Before being told about asparagus, Indian style, and handedness. It began with apples.
We had to choose our favorite kind of apple to teach us about mathematical graphing. The teacher tallied our votes for red or green on poster board. When it was my turn to choose, I stated I liked yellow apples the best. Both the students and teacher told me that yellow apples simply did not exist and I had to choose red or green. And they laughed at me.
I refused to choose, refused to conform, and went home despondent. Being that the school year bad just began, I was not punished for my refusal but told not to be a know it all, and to get along better with the classmates and teacher. My parents told me sometimes you have to give in to get along, and that school wasn't every moment of my day so I only had to compromise sometimes. I was willing to compromise and get along with others, but not when they were wrong and when they were teasing m. But I didn't say that part, and just decided to shut up and put up. School had become a place where there were only pre-determined correct answers, logic and facts did not always belong, and out of the box thinking was something to poke fun at. An apple, the best piece of symbolism for "school" was quite befitting. School was a place for only two kinds of apples, a narrow world view of humanity defined by red or green. Yellow need not apply. My likes, my knowledge, my ideas were supposedly all wrong.
The yellow apple issue made me become even quieter in school; I just went nearly catatonic with silence, and did just the minimum required to pass the school year. I was told I had potential, that I needed to come out of my shell, and I ignored the advice. I didn't want to attract any attention anymore, so I just made sure to ride with the tide and never stick out. I now think that if i were more adult then, i would not want to engage in intellectual conversation with people that didn't know apples could be yellow? Why be creative and innovative in thought if I'd just get laughed at?
I would trudge through the long school days, yearning to run home and draw pictures with both hands (the teacher forced me to choose one hand), then climb trees and read grown-up books while eating a yellow apple for Christ's sakes. I suffered through twelve years of this, always silently questioning things. Always running home to be free, be my own person. To be that yellow apple in a sea of red and green.