I honestly don’t know how I got through school days. Whenever I look back, all I really remember is clinging on to my mum each morning, crying, pretending I DID feel ill, and generally causing my parents a lot of stress. School was a problem for me pretty much from day one. I remember vividly being at my first primary school. I would have been between the ages of 4-8. I remember the time a boy in our class vomited and I remember the time a girl felt sick after eating too much custard. What really stands out for me though was lunchtime. It seemed acceptable in the 80s to force children to eat their meals. I recall the dread of queuing up for school dinner and being served what I had to be served, not what I wanted. This resulted in me not eating anything and subsequently being forced to sit in the dining hall until lunch was over. I pretty much never got to leave that hall to go outside and play with friends. I remember chatting with the cleaner who would come in when the hall was pretty much empty and pop the radio on. Madonna’s “like a prayer” reminds me of sitting there. The one thing that used to kill me was that any child who felt sick during lunch was not taken out of the hall, but instead brought a bowl. Honestly, wtf? Who would do that?!
It seemed these problems weren’t unique to just this primary school. When I moved to a different primary school at age 8 or 9 (not because of my issues), things were exactly the same. To try and help me cope better, my mum opted for lunch boxes. In theory this should have worked but the dinner ladies on duty were super militant and would check lunchboxes before you were able to leave the hall. Again, I was pretty much left in the hall most lunch times. It became such an anxiety-inducing time for me that my mum had to speak with my teacher and in the end they allowed me to have lunch, on my own or with one friend, in the classroom. I seriously don’t understand why these dinner ladies thought it acceptable to check lunches and pretty much force kids to eat. When I look back on all of this, it really saddens me because this was one of the key things I cried about most mornings before school. I hated school so much, all because I was forced to eat, and if I didn’t eat, I was made to sit alone. And if kids were ill, bowls would be brought in to class or the dining hall – not the child taken off to the sick room. I remember in my second primary school, they’d also sit kids in the library with a bowl. The library was in the middle of the school, through the main walkway. I was constantly reminded of other kids feeling or being sick.
When I finally moved to secondary school in 1992, I was finally free of the militant dining hall regimes. Thank god for that. School life started to settle down for me a bit until year 9. Year 9 was when a boy threw up in maths. And that was it, I spiraled back down in to anxiety and depression. You can read more about that time of my life in a post here about exams and secondary school experiences.
Thanks for reading, thanks for listening. I hope your school days were much happier :)