THE SUPPORT ROOM.
The names in this story have been changed to protect the identity of those that were involved.
When I was in third grade, I was sent to the support room. To this day, it is the most unjustified sentencing of my entire life.
If you are reading this and you did not grow up in the Canandaigua school system, you probably have no idea what a “support room” is. It sounds like a place for kids to go who need support. I can tell you from experience that this room provided no support. No support at all.
This was a place they would send kids in the elementary school who misbehaved in class. Now, I have done plenty of things that should have resulted in punishment, but this was not one of them.
Blame it on ADD, blame it on whatever you want, but it was well documented by the school administration that I had a hard time with traditional education methods. My teacher at the time, let’s call her Ms. Liquor (because I’m sure she was drinking plenty of it) was not a conducive fit to my learning style. To this day, the experience I had during the school year of 2002 to 2003 haunts me. I would be surprised if my classmates weren’t traumatized as well.
There was a laminated stop light at the front of our classroom resting on the lip of the chalkboard with clothespins clipped to it. Each clothespin had a student's name. At the beginning of each day, every pin was green. If you pushed Liquor to the edge, you might skip yellow, and go straight to red. Red meant going to the support room.
I wasn’t off in la-la-land in spite of the teacher. I wandered there in my head because I couldn’t pay attention for long enough to understand what was happening in class. Needless to say, I did not do well in school that year. Liquor’s efforts further distanced me from the desire to focus.
I was in class with my friend who also (turns out) had ADD. Let’s call her Jenny. Jenny and I were a match made in ADD heaven. For a period of time, we sat next to each other, but Ms. Liquor would quickly correct this mistake.
Around the holidays, the whole elementary school would be escorted to the auditorium for the band, orchestra, and choir concert. Eight to eleven year olds all walking in lines through the halls to sit in silence for up to an hour, and listen to mediocre music.
I have always been a music lover. I’ll tap my foot to a bass heavy jam as much as the next tune junkie, but this was not a music lover’s delight. So yes, it was extremely difficult for Jenny and I to sit still for one whole hour, and listen to cliché Christmas songs performed by tone deaf children.
Towards the end of the concert, I started whistling to the music. I figured out a way to engage and enjoy this snooze-fest. Jenny started laughing because when I was whistling my head bobbed side to side. How innocent and adorable, right? Two eight or nine year old girls, enjoying themselves to the sounds of Christmas music. Wrong.
I don’t remember how long it took Ms. Liquor to make her way over to us, but I remember it took considerable effort on her part. She weaved her way through the row of tiny legs. When she arrived, she said, “when we go back, move both your pins to the red light.”
Mortified, I went into a state of shock and panic. What were we doing wrong? What am I going to tell my parents? How are they going to react? Am I a bad kid? Every time I whistle, will I think of this moment? The answer to that last question is yes. Then there was poor Jenny. An innocent bystander of my shenanigans, doomed to suffer the same fate.
I had never been to the support room before or after this incident. My crime was trying to pay attention to which the punishment was going to the support room. A room filled with children ranging from misunderstood to misbehaved, while an overqualified person thumbed the pages of a People magazine, and occasionally looked up to stare at the back of our heads.
All the student desks were lined up facing the wall. We weren't allowed to turn around or talk to each other. In a way, this was a very strange form of adolescent solitary confinement.
I mean, really? I was so easily distracted, I whistled to pay attention at a band concert, and then was forced to stare at a blank wall for a full forty-two minutes. I’m still trying to figure out why it’s called the “support” room.
From my view point, I see absolutely no emotional aiding and abetting taking place in the depths of this room. If I am mistaken, please let me know. It would have been nice if a room appeared out of thin air, and a billowy bosomed woman greeted us with a hug and a snack. Now THAT’S a support room. From now on, I’ll just call it the room of resentment.