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The Abnormal Life of a Catholic Child
I grew up in a town known as the ghetto, but my family and I were the complete opposite. I was raised by an all-white family and attended a Catholic school. Which was where conceited little girls and boys called church their second home. Every day in my striped looking uniform, I tied up my hair in a navy blue scrunchie. I would sit on the last step of my stairs and put on my strange black shoes with a penny on the top. I could remember walking into the front doors of my school being welcomed by an older man with a long gown on, he was also holding a stick with a big lower case “T” on top where a naked boy was hanging. Every morning he would say the same exact thing to us, “Good morning boys and girls, have a great day at school”! I then started to realize that every boy and girl in the school would wear matching outfits, which was very confusing to me at the time. I thought I was special being able to wear a dress every day, until I saw that every other girl wore the same one as me.
Every day we would talk about how Jesus gave us life, but I was always pretty positive that my mom and dad were the ones that actually gave me it. “He gave up his life for us so our sins could be forgiven”, said every teacher in the whole entire school. It was like listening to a broken record when they decided to talk about Jesus. Every Friday we would sit in the large building where there were a bunch of wooden benches and colorful windows. My teacher, Ms.Steinfeld would always yell at me and say, “Your elbows are too far apart, you are disrespecting Jesus,”.I always thought to myself why does it matter where your elbows are placed as long as you are praying. When the guy in the long gown finally stopped talking to everyone that was sitting on a wooden bench would get up and form lines to eat Jesus’s body. Why would anyone want to eat Jesus’s body? I always questioned my teachers and asked them, “Isn’t it bad to eat a human”? They would just continuously laugh at me, and I was left just standing there wondering what was so funny.
Mrs.Heart was my favorite teacher. She always gave us worksheets that asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wanted to be a mermaid. “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up, as long as you put your mind to it,” spoke Mrs.Heart. “Anything?”, I asked.
“Anything your heart desires Lily,” she said. That was when I started to lay in my bath every single day pretending to flap my green scaly tail up and down. I’d picture myself to be just like Ariel; bright red hair, a purple shell bra, and a dark green tail. Except in my head, I was a little bit different from Ariel, I would only be a mermaid when I was in the water. Ariel was my inspiration at the time.
Everything about her was perfect to me- from her beautiful voice to her best friend Flounder. In my pool, I would always use to try to stay underwater as long as I could just to see if I would eventually be able to breathe. Listening to The Little Mermaid track on repeat, I would close my eyes and dance around my living room pretending to be underwater alongside Sebastian. Without my imagination pretending to be a mermaid wouldn’t be near as fun as it was at the time.
Did I also mention I used to be an amazing singer at the time? Mrs. Susan was our singing teacher, and she was the nicest person in the school out of all the students and all the other teachers. Every day I would ask to perform a solo for the class because in the back of my head I was picturing to be a backup singer for Hannah Montana. In my head, I would have on super glittery clothes with a long blonde wig on. This was every little girl's’ dream at the time and lucky for me, I had the imagination to help me fulfill that dream. The audience would roar as if it were a lion. As I stood in the spotlight for every school performance, I would say to myself, “I’m going to be very famous one day”. Singing class made me feel comfortable in my own skin, I always expressed my feelings through the childish songs I have sung. Even though the songs may have not meant much to adults, it was the complete opposite for a child like me. Having a place where you know you can express your feelings and feel comfortable was a big help throughout my strict and non-comforting elementary school.
Anxiety problems as a child aren’t something “normal” kids have to deal with, therefore I wasn’t normal. I had a tremendous amount of anxiety shooting throughout my veins every single day in elementary school. I would sit in my class and just have awful thoughts run across my brain. My mom and dad realized that it was something that truly started to affect me mentally so, therefore, I needed to work with the school social worker. As I sat in the social worker’s office, she would make me write down a bunch of swear words that were supposed to get rid of my anger and fearful thoughts. “I swear if you write these bad thoughts down and rip them up all your problems will go away,” spoke the social worker. I would then rip them up and throw them away in the trash hoping that it would help, but I soon realized it didn’t. I’d lay in my bed with a severe case of insomnia and would just lay in my bed counting sheep hoping that magically my mind would stop running in twenty million different directions. The social worker didn’t end up doing that much for me, in the end, I had to learn how to control my thoughts. The stress of Catholic school was very hard for a six-year-old like me to deal with.
Mrs.Fiorillo was the meanest teacher in the school. How could she hate cute kids like my friends and me? We were nothing but disciplinary and balls of sunshine. She had no patience, even a 6-year-old me had more patience than she did. I even vividly remember when she aggressively flipped my classmate’s desk over just because it was too messy for her. “You are all a disappointment”, she would repeatedly scream every day. My classmates and I would just sit there in silence trying to figure out what we could have possibly done wrong. She always reminded me of Edna from the children's movie, The Incredibles. She was pretty short and had the same exact pitch black hair like her, including the haircut. They also had pretty similar personalities, always rudely bossing people around, taking control of everyone and everything, and always doing what she thought was best for people but in the end wasn’t. I also made fun of her name a lot. For some reason it always seemed to remind me of Oreos, therefore I called her Mrs.oreo, of course only behind her back. I usually felt bad for making fun of people that I was supposed to respect, but Mrs.Fiorillo somewhat deserved it. Therefore, I did not feel guilty one bit after how rude she was to all of us. Yes, we may have been physically smaller than her but our hearts were one hundred times bigger than hers.
What could an innocent catholic student do to get into very big trouble, well I can answer that one for you. One time I got into very big trouble at school, but probably not the reason you are happening to generate in your brain right now. At Catholic school, I only participated in singing, but outside of school, I was a dancer at my studio, The Dance Connection. At my dance studio, it was normal for all of my friends to get changed in front of each other since we had to get changed for recitals and competitions together. It was normal for all of my dance friends, we innocently thought nothing of it, of it especially because of us all being the same gender. I had a close friend at school and one time I asked to get changed with her not thinking anything of it, because why would I? We all have the same private parts us, girls! Before I knew it, I was getting screamed at by Mrs.Steinfield my first-grade teacher. I even had to get a letter sent home because of my penalizing actions. I remember vividly coming home to my mother saying “Lily, what did you do today that got you in such big trouble to the point where I received a letter in the mail,”? I stood there silently just hoping that if I told her she wouldn’t be disappointed in my actions, I swear I meant no harm. I whined loudly, “I didn’t mean it mom, I swear,”.Now looking back at the time Catholic school was very overrated. Catholic school administration and teachers expected way too much at the time from six-year-olds like me.
Soon realizing my school was no longer for me, my family and I came to the conclusion that I should transfer to the public school down the street from me. The thought of me having to sit at a lunch table alone always scared me, because of not having the ability to make new friends always lurked in the back of my mind. The one time I actually prayed with sincerity was the time when I hoped to god that my teachers wouldn’t be as mean and selfish as my past ones. I was petrified that this school would be a worse fit for me than the one that I was currently in. Now, I was truly dealing with anxiety. Starting a new school at that age wasn’t all that easy. Having to make new friends, make personal connections with the teachers, and also having to just get used to the fact that I had to be more independent at school at such a young age since I was so used to having rules about everything. I soon learned to love the freedom I was given. I was finally able to feel comfortable in my own skin outside of the singing room.