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It's Not So Bad
As I walked toward the doors of the school, I couldn’t help but pity mom. Her and Dad’s decision to put me in public school at the beginning of last year was a tough one. I had been home-schooled ever since I was five. Public school was too open and corruptive, and there were no Christian schools within tens of miles from here. But when my sick grandpa moved in with us during the spring of what would’ve been my freshmen year of high school, my mom had to start taking care of him and by and by devoted less time to my schooling. Dad couldn’t do it because he was working all the time, and my older sister, Mary, couldn’t because she had just had her baby. There wasn’t enough money to hire a private tutor, and either way, who would we find that could give me the academic schooling I needed and a proper Christian education?
Well, as it turned out, that part didn’t really make a difference. It was decided that my parents would send me to the local public high school, Livingston County High School.
“Sorry, Katherine, we don’t have a choice,” my parents said to me with somber eyes as they reached for my hands across the dinner table on that hot June night.
“I know,” I replied simply. And I did know.
In the weeks that led up to my first ever attendance of mainstream school, my parents were becoming more and more nervous. I would often see one or both of them praying in the middle of the day, when they weren’t even eating or anything, and I always caught my mom talking to our Pastor more often than usual.
They were afraid that I was going to lose my faith in God, or that I was going to turn into some kind of rebel that they would have to find a way to control, or that the devil was hiding somewhere in the school waiting to steal my soul. But these were the least of my concerns. All I could think about each time I laid down to sleep at night was friends.
I mean, I was pretty good at school. I didn’t know how hard public school was compared to what I was used to, but at Evelyn Darlington’s, a.k.a. my mom’s, one-on-one home school, I pretty much got straight A’s. I wasn’t too worried about the whole devil-stealing-my-soul thing either. Even with my Christian-since-I-was-born mentality, I just had a strong feeling that wasn’t gonna happen--it was really just a hunch.
No, what I was worried about was friends. Having any of them, I mean. I had some friends from Church who I knew went to Livingston High, but they were only people who I saw twice a week and probably had their own separate circles of friends, anyway. Besides, what if we were in none of the same classes, or didn’t have any of the same lunch periods? Or even worse, what if they were only nice to me to my face because we were at Church and didn’t really like me?
So, while my parents started making me pray more than I already did and such, my friend issue was still the only thing that remained in my mind. And I didn’t know how to quite fix it. I mean, I knew that a lot of high school kids like rock ‘n’ roll, but I wasn’t allowed listen to rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, the only rock ‘n’ roll band I knew of was the Beatles, and they’d already been gone for a year by then. So talking about music was out the question. So was television. At least I knew popular shows like All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but that didn’t mean I was necessarily allowed to watch any of them. Nope, only wholesome shows like Little House on the Prairie or The Jetsons for me (I know, my parents were weird).
Then there was what I was going to wear. I knew what all the other girls wore – cropped tops, platform shoes, short dresses – I may not have gone to regular school, but I went out into society. But like my parents were going to let me wear any of those things. What if I walked in and got immediately laughed for my lack of belly button and thigh showing? What if I was shorter than everyone because I was the only one not wearing platforms? I could see it, walking in the building and only being able to see the lower halves of peoples backs as they turned around and noted, “Wow, look at that short girl in the long dress.”
And it wasn’t like I had anyone to ask for help either. If my parents had it their way, I obviously wouldn’t be having this problem in the first place. Then there was my sister, Mary, who was on her way to becoming them even though she was 21 and not even married yet at the time. I felt too awkward to ask my Church friends since I didn’t really know them that well, and oh yeah, I’m sure Pastor Daniel would give me some great advice (“Don’t worry Katherine, God will take care of it!” Thanks, Pastor Daniel, great advice.). I knew it was in God’s hands and that only He could determine my fortune, but I couldn’t shake my apprehension.
And as it turned out, things did seem to start working out. About a week and half before school started, I was able to sneak off to the magazine wrack when I accompanied Mary to the grocery store one day. I opened one of the fashion magazines and saw models like Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson wearing platforms and cropped tops, but they also wore high-waisted jeans that covered up their belly buttons and long, flowy shirts. I mean, they also weren’t wearing bras, but I bet I could wear a bra and no one would say anything about it. Then I also happened to see Lauren Hutton and saw that she had the same hair as me, dirty blonde, wavy and parted down the middle. Then, to my great excitement, my mom took me to the department store a week later to buy new school clothes – my first time doing so, obviously.
So there I was a week later, the new girl to the sophomore class, in my high-waisted jeans and white, flowy peasant top that I wore with a bra, and hair that looked like Lauren Hutton’s. I didn’t feel confident, but I also didn’t feel like I was getting ready to jump off a bridge, like I did the week before. So I just walked into the building, not drawing any attention to myself, just walking.
And what do you know? Only a few of the girls were wearing midriff tops, and my Church friend Joyce immediately took me into her circle. So maybe things wouldn't be so bad--maybe this adventure would have an unexpected happy ending.