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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Great! Behaviour-ism!

When I was in high school I thought it was funny to respond to my class mates as if they scared me. So whenever anyone spoke to me I turned to them in a split second, inhaling sharply, making my eyes large as if I was scared to bits. I think I shrieked at times.
Before I knew it, this became a reflex, I responded that way to every impulse. And not voluntarily anymore. The joke went off, I had a high level of adrenaline and reacting frightened was not the wisest thing to do in some situations. So I had to 'unlearn' myself this state of conditioning.

But high school is a time of boredom.
Due to my SPD I avoided being touched or pushed unexpectedly, so I always chose a seat at the back, or -if taken- at the side of the classroom. There I would sit sideways, with my back against the wall. To have no one sitting behind me.
From my position I was able to pay attention to everyone and everything. Except to the lesson. I used to write letters, design fonts or simply dream of being outside, far far away from the madding class.

In a lack luster moment I decided to play the conditioning game again. From a positive perspective this time: I simply yelled “Great!” at everything people said.
'Hey Jo, you're in my way.' -"Great!"
'OK class, here's tomorrow's homework...' -"Great!"
'Next week there'll be a written test.' -"Great!"
The Greats became automated responses and grew louder by the day.

Economy was one of the seven 'branches' I had chosen for final exams. The new teacher, a young man, hardly six years older than our oldest classmate, had a terrible time keeping order. There were people shouting or having conversations with their backs turned to the teacher. V. had let herself drop on the floor, playing that she'd fainted, and now R. was pulling her up again, Making quite a show of it. I think there even  were objects flying through the air. And in the back there was a girl who kept quiet, her eyes submerged in the sky outside. Needless to say her name was JoAnne.

The teacher inhaled, straightened his back and announced as loud as he could: “The next one ...” the class froze, falling silent  “who makes any noise can leave and report to the principal!”
Yes. Five minutes later I was knocking on the principal's door. Lucky for me, the principal was not in his office, so I reported back at the teacher after the lesson was over. R had stayed behind, spoke up for me. He is a lawyer nowadays, a good one I presume: I was forgiven. Except for one thing. “Why do you always have to have the last word?” the economy teacher complained.

After I had yelled "Great!", the teacher told me to go to the principal and report back later.
“Yes sir,” was my reply, “I will do so with sights ands sounds.”
I was spry simply because I was nervous. It was the first -and last- time I was expelled.

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