Why do I have to go to school?

Our town did not offer Kindergarten in Catholic school. So, I went directly to first grade. I didn’t like school one bit. Everything about going to school annoyed me–the uniform, the need to get my hair “done” and ribboned, the reading, the alphabet. I couldn’t imagine their purposes. I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t want to be a student! I wrote the following post from the point of view of my 6 year-old self.


School! I hate school and I don’t know why I have to go there. I already know how to read. Daddy says I was born knowing how, that when I read Doctor Hitelir’s nametag in the delivery room, I “screamed blue murder.” That always made everybody laugh like they were watching a Marx Brothers movie. But the truth is, I don’t remember ever not knowing how to read. We always have books around the house, schoolbooks that my older brothers and sisters have to buy because we go the Sacred Heart of Mary School and are not “publics.” And I always have siblings to read to me when they feel like it or when my mother makes them. Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, mother and father are as familiar to me as my own family. It is just plain boring to have to sit in a row with a lot of other kids and take turns reading stuff I already know anyway.

So, that’s what I decide to tell Ma and Daddy. I don’t want to go to school. I don’t need to go to school. Besides, I hate having my hair combed. Nobody knows that better than Ma does. It takes hours for her to get the comb through the snarls and tangles that develop through the night. If I don’t go to school, we can just wet my hair, pull it back in barrettes and that’s that. No baloney curls necessary! And we don’t have to buy another stupid uniform. Daddy is always worried about money. Why do we have to make things harder for him? If I don’t go to school, we won’t have to buy me a uniform, and the white blouses and the felt hat and the saddle shoes that go with it. I’ll probably need more than one uniform because I’m “hard” on my clothes, Ma says. That’s twice the expense! Marie told me that her sister said they’re getting new books next year. That means I won’t be able to use the ones around the house. More money spent on things I don’t need anyway.

Tonight I’m breaking to good news to Daddy.  I’ll tell him, “I’ve decided that I don’t need to go to school. Isn’t that great?” I know he’ll be pleased. After all, he enjoys having me around, and I do help Ma an awful lot. When we make cookies, Ma says that my hand is just the right size to shape the “S” and I never put too many candies on top, like my sister, Mary, does.  What do they do without me when I’m in school all day?

I tell Nancy that when all the kids go out to play after supper, I’m going to march into the back parlor and tell Daddy while he’s reading the newspaper. She doesn’t say anything, but I don’t like the way she smiles at me.



9 thoughts on “Why do I have to go to school?

  1. The power of learning to read starts at home. You thought you didn’t need school because “We always have books around the house”. That little girl was one smart cookie. I’m going to predict if this story would continue that you probably lost that battle with your daddy when you marched in the parlor!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Diane. You were quite a character! Of course, I can just imagine the conversation with your father. Your sister’s smile says it all! I think writing this person in present tense makes it so much more charming and powerful than if you had written in past tense. Also, love the story about reading the doctor’s nametag in the delivery room – really funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your story — are related to Ramona by any chance? I feel for all the little students who really do already know “stuff” like how to read and do math, and have to sit in school waiting and waiting before they can learn something.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great close in ending! You capture your child voice perfectly – I could hear your tone and emotion. This was clearly the same girl who went to the bar with her dad. Did you tell him?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did! And you know what he said? “Honey, school is boring for you because you’re so smart. But you wait. When you start learning things you don’t know about it gets more interesting. I promise you.” This from a man who had to go to work in the coal mines after he completed the fourth grade! Wise? You betcha.


      1. Have you written some of these as memoirs? Lots of lessons in them. You truly have a gift for capturing voice. I can hear your “characters” as they speak and the voice remains between your pieces. It would be interesting to group them in some way.


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