The Trauma of Fourth Grade

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 28th, 2014 19 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

Overall, I always enjoyed school but there are 2 years that stand out in my mind as being the worst years ever! 4th grade was one of those years and since Amara is in 4th grade, I figure she will really appreciate my story.

Kindergarten through 3rd grade I went to the public school that was just down the street from our house, four tenths of a mile down our street according to Google Maps. That four tenths of a mile was the home of many of my friends and classmates. We walked to school together; we played together and had known one another all our lives.

In 1959, all of that would change for me. That is when my sister and I started at the Catholic School. It was 6 miles away but a 32-mile bus trip. We took what we called The Little Bus. There were probably 12 of us who rode it. Funny, I don’t remember if there even was a Big Bus. We were the first ones on each morning and the last ones off each night, something I never thought was fair. Because the Catholic school was the only one in the county, we weren’t the only ones from the surrounding towns to take The Little Bus. We were the only ones from our town and that bus route took us about 90 minutes to go those 32 miles. My school days became 3 hours longer.

No longer did I get to go to school with all my friends, I never got home in time to play with them after school either! Our school schedules weren’t the same. Catholic School started 2 weeks before public school and got out earlier for the summer. Our Christmas breaks were different, too! Not to mention that Catholic School didn’t give you a Fair Day! This is a tradition that still exists in the county. All of the school kids get a day off to go to the County Fair. I really resented not getting to go with all of my friends.

There were many other changes at the new school. Because it was a small school, the classrooms were combined into two grades. I was in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. The only other person I knew at the school was in my class with me – my sister!

Because it was a small school, there was no cloakroom or any place where you could discretely take off your snow pants or put them on. We didn’t have to wear a uniform but we did have to wear a skirt or dress. Trying to get those snow pants off while standing next to your desk was an art form that took me some time to learn.

I also learned, in front of everyone, that you don’t ask to go to the bathroom; you ask to go to the lavatory! I had never heard the word and was completely confused and humiliated.

The playground, an important part of any school, was very small compared to our old school. There were no tall swings or slides, just a few teeter-totters and one whirly gig. Our playground also doubled as parking for the church!

There was no cafeteria! That meant I had to start making our lunches before the bus came in the morning. I was the oldest. It was my job.

While I hated that bus ride, the very best part of my 4 years at that school was our bus driver. Many mornings our old house was very cold, especially upstairs. I loved climbing into that nice warm bus. PLUS, he often brought us donuts! Is there any wonder I am addicted to them still? His wife worked at the donut shop on the night shift and he would stop to say hi to her on his way to work and grab donuts for us girls.

I never made the kind of friendships at that school that I had made at the public school. None of my classmates lived in the town I lived in so we seldom had a chance to play together and I never saw them during the summers except at church.

I really missed going to school down the street.

19 thoughts on “The Trauma of Fourth Grade

  1. Joyce

    I hated fourth grade too. Sister Michael was MEAN! I was scared to death of her and I think everyone else was too. I didn’t mind the parking lot for a play ground or walking home for lunch because I never realized there was anything different. The best advantage to Catholic school was having the day after Halloween off for All Soul’s Day – after Mass my sisters and I could go home and play with our candy and the “publics” could not!

    Reply
  2. Judy@grandparentsplus2

    13 years of Catholic School here. :-) Fourth grade was a good one for me because I had a really nice teacher. It was third and fifth where I had Sister Patrick who thought the pole to lower the tall windows made a nice thing to hit the boys with and for us girls we got to see the palm of her hand. Gives me goose bumps just to think about her. There is no way a child should have to ride 90 minutes to get to any school but I know your parents thought they were doing the best thing.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I did survive 4th grade and go on to graduate from Catholic high school and there even were some good years. 4th grade just wasn’t one of them! I remember that pole you are talking about – I hadn’t thought of those windows in forever! We had a lay teacher that first year and her weapon of choice was a ruler. She actually used a ruler on us! Things were different then!

      Reply
  3. Kristi

    You had a really long school day with that bus ride. How nice of the bus driver to bring donuts for you and your sister! I bet he never had any idea that his small gesture would be remembered by you after all these years. We never know how big of a difference our small kindnesses can make.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I am sure he had no idea the impact he was making and how vividly I would remember him all these years later. You are right – you just never know! Even a simple smile can make a huge difference to someone who is feeling down.

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  4. Sandy

    Oh wow, this was a hard post to read. There was just no bright side to this story … well maybe the donuts. LOL. Seriously though, changing schools is hard, making new friends, trying to fit in. It’s not fun. I wish you didn’t have to go through all that. :(

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      It is certainly one of the reasons that I hope that Amara will get to continue at her same school with her same friends until she graduates from high school.

      Reply
  5. debra@ HOMESPUN

    Ugh quite the adjustment. I can relate to the long bus ride. Lived in the country and the street below went to one school and our street and on went to another. My bus ride was a good 45 minutes in grade school and middle school and close to an hour for high school.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I’m sure long bus rides are still very common in lots of areas. In California it is to prepare you for traffic jams and long commutes when you grow up and have to work!

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  6. Launna

    Awe Kc, it’s sad how you had to grow up so quickly and have so many changes, personally I think if they wanted you in the Catholic school, they should have moved to that town. I wanted to thank you for your really sweet comment … Have a really great weekend :)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      It really was hard because I also felt ostracized from all my old friends, too. Even though they still lived just down the street we no longer had as much in common – namely school. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

      Reply
      1. Launna

        Kc, first thank you for your lovely comment on my blog and thank you for the email about the song… I really needed to hear that… I have been having a really rough time and sometimes I need to be reminded to hold on because things always get better even if we can’t see it right away :)

        Reply
  7. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    That sounds like a really rotten four years. Thank heavens for the bus driver. I’ve heard many stories of unhappy times at Catholic school. So sorry that yours was added to the list. And so thankful — I suppose that would be the word — that I attended public school, though my bus ride was as long as yours during the first few years.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      To be honest Lisa, it wasn’t so much that it was a Catholic school – it was that it was a private school in another town where none of my friends were. It was just such a change from walking to school with all my friends and already knowing all the teachers I would have. Sure hope Amara never ever has to change schools. Her Mom had to change schools a lot but her Daddy never did. They are sure hoping she can graduate high school with her 3 BFFs.

      Reply
  8. imaddy

    I attended Catholic school in my country and those nuns are not very nice. Times were different then. I’m glad the bus was warm and the bus driver was sent from above to keep you going. I love your post and the vivid memories you have.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Thank you for your kind words! My best friend says I have a mind like an elephant and that I never forget anything! I have found that writing brings even more of the memories to the surface. Hopefully, Amara will know more about her Grandma because of these posts. Her Mommy, too!

      Reply
  9. KImberly

    Do you remember why you didn’t go there until fourth grade? In an adjacent county, students ride the public school bus to the local Catholic school. At our school, there is no bus, little or otherwise, so our children are thrilled when they get to ride a bus on a field trip. Across the bridge in the big city, kids ride busses that long. I think it’s awful for their time to be spent that way.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      My mother had sort of fallen away from the Catholic Church until I was in 1st or 2nd grade. My Father was Methodist. I know I wasn’t Baptized until I was in 2nd grade. I remember going to Catechism classes every Saturday for over a year before we actually started Catholic School.

      Amara and her classmates love any excuse to ride a bus – but it is novel to them! It got old to us.

      Reply

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