Every 6th grade elementary student feels ready for junior high long before they can actually enter. I was no exception. I hit my growth spurt early, so I was taller than a lot of my friends and most of the boys. Elementary school was sooo 5th grade.
I was under the delusion that I was not at all nervous for junior high, only excited. The truth came out when I woke up for the first day of 7th grade. I woke up with such a severe muscle spasm in my neck that my head seemed permanently tilted to the left - with my ear about an inch from my shoulder. I called my Mom, a school teacher, to beg to stay home. It was a crazy day for her...a total of 26 excited 5 year-olds would be arriving any minute. She told me to take a hot shower and as I moved around it would loosen up.
It did not loosen up.
I looked drunk as I walked to Jefferson Junior High School. Just experiment...tilt your head all the way to one side and then try to walk a straight line. Not so easy is it? Let's just say it was a very wobbly walk to school. I was mortified. It didn't matter that I had picked out the perfect outfit and was having a great hair day...if you can't move your head you simply look and feel weird.
As I stumbled to my first class I found that I could put my hand under my head, resting my elbow on my desk and look, already, oh so bored with class - but at least like I was doing it on purpose. My friends approached me in the hall...."What is wrong with you? You look weird." Thank you. It turns out I woke up as a living Picasso painting.
My favorite memory of the day was going to my first P.E. class. There was no desk on which to rest my elbow - I couldn't hide my temporary disability. The PE teacher called roll and asked us to raise our hands so she could put a face to each name. She then sent everyone out to the field, but asked me to stay behind. I am convinced she only called roll to figure out my name.
"Michelle" she tenderly began, as though talking to a 2 year old...or a puppy, "I think there has been a mistake with your schedule. Our special kids don't have to take PE. Would you like me to find someone to walk you down to the office?"
Some of you may think this was the perfect way to get out of junior high PE, otherwise known as, how to humiliate yourself and see how unpopular you really are. But I was slightly offended.
"I'm not a special kid....I mean....ha..ha...my Mom thinks I'm special." I stammered, "But I woke up with a crick in my neck and I can't seem to straighten out my head and neck."
Her sympathetic look turned to suspicion as she gave me the "once over." "If this is some kind of joke, it's not funny." she said. "Get out there with the rest of the students....4 laps."
If you thought walking straight was hard - you should have seen the running. I'm fairly certain I ran the equivalent of 6 laps that day.
After a long neck massage and another hot shower it started to loosen up. By the end of the week my Picasso days were over, I could walk a straight line again. But the damage was done. The P.E. teacher was convinced I was some sort of troublemaker and seemed to find great happiness in my lack of dodge ball skills for the rest of the semester.