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Trouble with a Capital T

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

I can still recall the very first time I got in trouble at school. Mammoth trouble. Trouble so prodigious that I had to stand up from my chair, wait for the teacher to finish the lesson, then explain what I had just done (or rather why I had done it). nThe only advantage of this particular scenario was that I was not alone. There was three of us. Not only was I the only girl, but I was the only one who had never been in real trouble before.

I say real trouble because four years prior in Junior Infants, I had sketched a wolf in my exercise book and been caught distracting another pupil when I was asking for an eraser. I had to sit in the ‘quiet chair’. I had never felt such remorse. Reflecting upon it now, I see the situation from a third-person point of view; little old me sitting in the far corner of the room, my back to the class, my paper being thrown around out of sheer frustration. Years later several of my friends rejoiced about the ‘quiet chair’; claiming it was finally a bit of peace and tranquillity. One girl even said she had been put there every single day! I don’t think this is true, at least not from my perception, because I had only sat there once and had never felt so alone.

There was of course the time in Senior Infants. That was another story. We had a teacher in training in our classroom for the week. She was from Kilkenny. I felt a connection to her, not solely because she was from my favourite county, but also because she used to let us play fun games. One game was to guess what the recordings on her phone were. She said the final recording of a hairdryer was the most difficult; that hairdryers are hard to identify, but once we see them we know instantly what they are. I had always thought hairdryers were tumultuous, not unidentifiable. This planted a seed in my brain that I could make a similar noise to the hairdresser and no one would even notice. So I did. I tried saying the other pupils’ names on my table as though I was speaking into a fan. I was convinced none of them could hear me. After all, they didn’t hear when I jittered my teeth or scratched the back of my neck profusely.

However, this time was different. The class of six-year-olds became as quiet as a class of six-year-olds could possibly be. The teacher asked what the noise was, and I - oblivious to how loud I was being - continued to operate. Until the boy sitting across from me raised his hand and pointed towards me, outing me to the entire room. The teacher didn’t seem to mind, almost as if she was just curious as to who was able to make such a commotion. Although I didn’t take the exposure well and proceeded to cry for five minutes straight. Causing her to have to put an arm around me, fetch me a tissue, and attract even more attention towards myself.

No, this real trouble incident was much greater, and as a grown-up, with a working printer, I curse my younger self for committing such a crime. I and the two other culprits had made Christmas crackers out of brand new, clean, white A4 paper. It wasn’t even close to Christmas! The distraught in the teachers face when she came into the room to find at least thirty pages of sheets cut into pieces was drastic, but her comment about how disappointed she was made my heart crumple more than the paper in front of me. I sat, head bowed down, and told myself never to perpetrate paper murder again. I must say, I have learned my lesson. From now on not a single side of paper, let alone a sheet, is wasted. I have stockpiled blank pages from pamphlets over the past few years, and even keep refill pads until every single corner is written on. For my last birthday, my gift was two notebooks and 500 sheets of white A4 paper. The notebooks have been opened, scribbled in, cherished; but the sheets are for emergencies only.

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