V V V V V
2B Wednesday, September 26, 2012 // The Statement
THE JUNK DRAWER
I Wednesday, ~~~Sepeme 2, 02 /Th7Saemn
My 3rd grade teacher almost killed me,
but ended up saving my life
E AT M by Zach Bergson
letter from the editors
by dylan cinti and jennifer xu
ou're a first-generation college student. The summer before your
freshman year the University tells you they want you there early.
Six weeks early. You've got some catching up to do. Under a blaring
June sun you walk the campus in a daze, questioning the decision
you've made and the friends you've left behind at home.
You're 8 years old, this weird quiet little kid, and your teacher's
standing over you. She's got her mits on your desk and she's hurling
its contents on your head. Next thing you know you're on the ground.
What just happened?
You're in an airport after a long plane ride, sitting next to grandma.
She's dozed off. Suddenly some jerk walks up and just snags granny's
purse! Nevermind that you've crossed the Atlantic and don't speak the
language here. Nevermind that you're only 9 years old. You're going to
catch this thief.
You're one of those kids whose parents sat them down at the piano
as soon as they could walk. Now you're obsessed. Four hours a day isn't
enough. Six is more like it. But the work's paying off, because some
famous pianist in Russia wants you to come study with him. And you're
These may not be your stories, but the clarity and authority with
which they're told makes them universally relatable. Each one speaks
to the particular joys and challenges of growing up and getting settled
in a world that's equal parts terrifying and exciting,
There are more than 40,000 stories on this campus. These are four
of them. For more, turn to that person in class, the one you haven't spo-
ken to but who seems really fascinating. The one you've been dying to
Ask them their story. And tell them yours.
random student interview
by kaitlin williams /illustrations by megan mulholland
Welcome to the Random Stu-
dent Interview, where we're
rollin' dirty and breakin' the
law. Oh, and we swear we're not
(Woman on longboard stops)
Do you want to be in the Ran-
dom Student Interview?
Sure, why not?
I like your longboard. How long
have you had it?
Like a year.
So since before it was cool?
I guess. I don't know.
Do you consider yourself a hip-
I get it. You're too hip to be a
No. I just bought my boyfriend a
longboard for his birthday, then he
really liked it so he bought me one,
and then, yeah .
Oh cool. So do you guys long-
board around the town togeth-
Yeah. We also get tickets around
Yeah. We got $100 tickets.
By North Quad.
So you're not allowed to long-
You're not allowed to longboard
on campus or in the city of Ann
Well, that really narrows it
Yeah, so you have to keep an eye
out for me.
OK. I'll keep looking around
for DPS. You just concentrate
on the interview. I didn't know
that longboarding was illegal. I
thought it was just skateboards
because they can do tricks. You
know, like flip kicks.
No, I wish. But they just don't
know the difference.
Can you do any tricks on your
People can. I don't. I don't want
to die. I like myself too much to
ing was so extreme.
OK. So I got so wrapped up in
that I forgot I wanted to play a
game this week. Do you know
what free association is?
Yeah, you just say something and I
say what comes to mind first.
Hopefully this doesn't get bad.
I hope it does. We'll see.
All right. Blue.
from last week: mohammed t. safi
Do you consider yourself spiritual?
What about hills? Have you ever Black.
gone down one and not been Red.
able to get back up?
I went down a bigger hill before Banana.
and I had to go to the hospital Grape.
afterwards so ...
ILLUSTRATION BY MEGAN MULHOLLAND
Well this was fun. Thanks for
stopping. I'll let you ride off into
the sunset. Don't go getting any
Oh my gosh!
I don't hurt myself anymore.
Wow. I didn't know longboard- - Nikki is an LSA sophomore.
Yes, though I
am not religious
Yes, I am
was sitting at my desk in my third grade classroom day-
dreaming about "Dragon Ball Z," when suddenly I start-
ed falling backward.
The next thing I remember was feeling the weight of my
desk, and all of its contents, raining down on me. A wrinkly,
turkey-necked woman towered above me. Her name was
Mrs. Pennfield, and she was the most terrifying teacher I
Her piercing brown eyes showed no hint of remorse for
nearly cracking my head open.
"If you're not going to pay attention in class, Zach," she
screamed, "the least you can do is keep your desk CLEAN!"
My classmates kept their noses in their books to avoid her
wrath. This wasn't the first time she'd disciplined a student
in this manner.
I sat on the floor of the classroom dumbfounded, not sure
whether I should cry or get angry.
I know what you may be thinking. This guy's crazy teach-
er traumatized him for life and he's probably still talking to
his therapist about it today.
That couldn't be any further from the truth.
I'm not sure why or how, but something was rewired in
my brain that day. When I got home from school, . felt like a
new person. It was as ifa sledgehammer had knocked down
a wall in my head and a new side of me was flowing out.
The best way to describe myself pre-"Pennfieldgate" was
extremely introverted and weird. Instead of crawling on all
fours like a normal toddler, I butt-crawled. I could draw you
a diagram explaining how this works, but I'll let you use your
imagination. Until I was 3 years old, I had my own language
and clung to a toy dinosaur that was originally a decoration
on mytwo-year-old birthday cake. Its name was Tootieninitz.
When I was 2 and a half, my parents showed me "Juras-
sic Park." For the next six months, my only form of com-
munication was roaring exactly like the T-Rex in the movie
(my roar was so identical to Spielberg's T-Rex that my par-
ents considered sending him a recording). My behavior, as
you can imagine, was not conducive to making friends in
Concerned, my parents brought me to multiple child
psychologists. When they tried to test me for the normal
developmental disorders, I refused to cooperate. "There is
something seriously wrong with your child," the doctors told
I eventually learned bow to speak English, but when I
started school, 1,still fell dreadfully, bbind my classmates.
I was last to do almost everything. Writing my name in kin-
dergarten was a struggle, and learning to read and do basic
math took even longer.
At the time, I knew there was a reason why I was pulled
out of class for remedial math and reading, but frankly, I
didn't care. I had my action figures (or "men" as I called
them) and my imagination to keep me busy. School meant
nothing to me, and I had no interest in learning.
Even though I was far behind my peers, my parents resist-
ed holding me back. They felt that eventually I would gain
my academic footing and catch up with my peers - all that I
needed was a "push."
For the most part, my parents were right. By the time Mrs.
Pennfield pushed me over, I was probably ready to break out
ofmyintroverted shell. All I needed was an external trigger to
shock me into reality. By the end of the year, I had completely
caught up to my peers and was pulled out of remedial classes.
Looking back, I may have snapped out of my reclusiveness
without the help of Mrs. Pennfield. But if I could go back to
third grade, I'd let her flip my desk all over again.
Zach Bergson is a Public Policy senior and a deputy maga-
zineeditorfor The Michigan Daily.