Thursday, March 12, 2009


When the Matron was but a Wee Miss, she once endured an entire year of classroom combat. This was flat-out war. In fifth grade.

The classroom was controlled by a boy named Scott. The Matron remembers his last name but will not post it in case he's busy googling himself (if he's not currently serving time for rape or murder).

Scott had a small gaggle of henchmen who did his every evil deed. And there were many. Hench men and deed.

Wee Miss was new to this school. Her family was in upheaval, having literally heaved from one city to another, officially sans father. Her mother was a new college student, juggling full-time parenting with full-time studies. So the mama was busy.

Wee Miss felt more or less on her own once that bus opened its doors and she walked out onto the playground. Where she was promptly knocked down and beaten. Kicked, pinched, slugged. On a daily basis.

But at least she had a chance on the playground! She could run! And run she did, hiding in corners, under slides, and behind teachers when available. The most dangerous place in the war was the actual classroom.

Everyday at 10 am her teacher took a half hour coffee break (those were the days!). Everyday at 10 am Wee Miss hated this teacher, very much. The instant she was out of the room, Scott leapt to his leaden hoof and took charge. Mostly that meant decided whether to torture Wee Miss or his other favorite victim, Renee.

Everyday, the fearful, guilt-ridden, terrified Wee Miss prayed it would be Renee and hated herself for doing so. But Scott executed a sort of balance to his torture, an even distribution sort of guy.

Routinely, the hench men would hold down Wee Miss's hands and feet so that Scott could explore her body --- all of its parts-- in front of the entire classroom. With commentary. When he wasn't busy with Wee Miss, he worked on Renee. If he caught Wee Miss alone in the large dark coat room? He got to throw her down on the ground for better inspection and grope, especially if his helpers were nearby.

When Wee Miss, she of brave spirit and spunk, had her first such encounter with Scott, she screamed and threatened full exposure.

Scott pulled out a small switch blade. "You see this knife? If you tell anyone, I'm going to kill your baby brother. He's in kindegarten. Room four, Mrs. Duncan."

Wee Miss kept her mouth shut. She was terrified of Scott! Certain -- 100% 10 year old certainty -- that Scott would kill her brother or sister, or even herself. The thing that astounds the grown-up Matron is the degree of control Scott exerted on the entire classroom.

The sexual terrorism (LOVE that term and thanks Carol Sheffield) continued the ENTIRE academic year without relent. Not a day went by when some new horror wasn't tossed out to play. Not one child said a word. Not one child reported that the girls in room 212 were being undressed, felt-up, and beaten.

The Matron's hands shake, typing, thirty years later.

Wee Miss was at that school for just two years and in Scott's classroom the first. When she entered junior high, she was placed in a section for low-performing, academically-challenged students. You see, she barely passed fifth and sixth grade. She spent two years trying to live under the radar.

Within a month and several cities separating her and Scott, Wee Miss was switched to the acdemic fast track. She eventually stopped sitting up at nights, waiting for someone to kill or grope her.

About two years ago, the Matron googled Renee. And found her! They had dinner and, war refugees, shared their stories and the centrality that Scott had played in their lives. Renee recounted in horror how she had run into him on a city street as an adult and nearly fell over with fear. Rumor was he'd done some time in jail for rape.

Renee and the Matron are now friends on facebook and sisters who survived and thrived, despite this. Indeed, the Matron finds her very fine feminist roots in this experience.

The Matron has forgiven that sad, mean, dangerous little boy. Wee Miss never will.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Olympian Feats

It is possible to live through a five day monologue of cat and dog stories.   

Grandma Mary is resting comfortably at home.  The Matron might empty the wine bottle.  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Like the Matron has All Day to Manage Someone Else's Life

The Matron suddenly has a part-time job caring for her mothe, whose hospitalization does not seem to be nearing an end.    Driving alone takes a new two hours out of her already impossible day.  

Given that the perpetually busy Matron (the job, the novels, the needy students, the family, the works, the near teen, the house, the man, the need to create art!, the volunteer work -- you get it!) is suddenly even busier -- AND -- given that her own psyche is being taxed, challenged, prodded and rolled due to her mother's illness (did you know that the Matron has a toddler living within her?) -- given all these complexities of her own wild and precious life, the Matron experienced the following with some bemusement.

She ran into an old high school acquaintanc, Adelle (so not her real name)  while tending to her mother in her hometown.  Seems that word of Scarlett's acting preceeded the Matron, via a proud, bedridden grandma.  

Adelle:  "I would never do that to my daughter."

Matron:  "What?"

Adelle:  "You know, push all that stuff on her at such a young age."

Matron:  "Push her?   She's entirely self-driven."

Adelle (with superiority and skepticism in perfect balance):  "Whenever any kid starts doing unusual, semiprofessional stuff at 7, there's a parent who has to make the phone calls, drive, organize and manage."

Matron:  "Same for play dates and soccer.   If your child wanted to be in Brownies, wouldn't you help her out?  But if your kid says 'sign me up for the stage' at seven, it's wrong to do that?"

Adelle:  "It's different.  I just think it's sad that people live through their children's accomplishments."  She shoots the Matron a knowing look.

Matron (deciding to jump conversational ship):  "Me too.   Oh!  My Mom's hemoragging.  Gotta run!  Ta-ta!"

The Matron has run into this attitude before and understands that some people will always see her negatively because yes, she helps  her daughter.   But live through her?  

Who runs the show that is Scarlett?   In a bit of serendipity, after the Matron returned home (post-Adelle) last night, Scarlett unveiled her new creation:  Love to Love Acting.   And requested that her mother link the daughter's blog on hers, as the child is not adverse to Audience.   Check out that first post, in which Scarlett proclaims:  "I live to act, sing and dance."  So there.  But Scarlett?  Stop with the commas!

Because Adelle works at the hospital, the Matron is certain to see her again.  Even though the Matron has Written Orders to be immediately executed should she wear a hat, button or t-shirt with one of her children's photograph on it (and that special message, like "Proud Mama of an honor student"), even so, she is tempted to  quickly construct garb with Stryker's photo and GPA so she can live through him, too, and give Adelle a LOT to talk about with the locals. 

No, the life the Matron is living is all her own.  And right now, that life is demanding and a little bit painful as the past forty-some years of a complex relationship play out around that hospital bed.    She hopes she can survive it.