Antisocial? I Know I Am, But What Are You?

My dad brought me a box of memorabilia that included my grade school “memory book.” Tucked into its pages was an assessment letter from my Kindergarten teacher:

July 1, 1969

Dear Mr. and Mrs. F______:

Holly has been a dignified, rather inflexible, and self-centered kindergartener. It is very difficult for her to project beyond herself. She moves from one close friendship to another but her inability to let herself go makes real sharing impossible. She never really gets involved in doing and other children resent this. She still needs to be reminded about every routine responsibility in the room and she seldom takes one on her own. Practical problems are very difficult for her and she often says,” But I have never done that”. She stands by helplessly while some other child solves a problem as simple as unfolding a newspaper to make it flat. She often uses the term “Ik” or a similar word when asked if she doesn’t want to do papier mache, use clay, paint, etc.Holly is capable of doing good academic work but here again she has difficulty in solving practical problems, in discovering on her own. She waits for adult direction and decisions, and is quick to blame others when things go wrong. She understands math processes, groups and counts easily and memorizes details. She shows much interest in learning to read and is much less mechanical about it than she was at first. She has a good visual memory. Holly performs in dance and general physical activity but she does this studied, mechanical thing and has difficulty losing self-consciousness and relaxing. She has good coordination but is stiff and sometimes fearful. In free outdoor play she is the most relaxed and childlike. She seems to play with a wide variety of friends then and has a good attitude. She seems so afraid she will not “measure up”, or is so dependent upon adult praise in the more specific skills, and she wants to show what she can do rather than to be a part of the whole group experience. She can be a happy, spontaneous contributor with a good sense of humor and an interest in others when she lets down her guard. She is being more free and creative in story writing, in dramatizations, and is trying to do less stereotyped work in art. She needs much contact with children outside of school in order to sense some practical give and take. She needs to get more involved in other children’s interests. She should have no difficulty academically but her success there will be somewhat influenced by her success socially and her attitude toward work.

E_____ C______

Fair enough; my husband read this and laughed. “Not too far off.” He ducked; after twenty-three years of marriage, the man ducked. He has earned the right to know me that well. But is it any wonder we moved, when this woman got promoted to First Grade and my parents were told she’d be my teacher another year?

This, by the way, is the woman who called my parents to the school to inform them that I was a pathological liar. She had asked each of her students to tell the class what our plans were for Christmas break. Mine happened to be traveling to Africa aboard the S.S. United States. “No one takes a five-year-old child to Africa!” E.C. declared. My parents set her straight, and she proceeded to describe to me – in painful detail – the shots I would have to have in order to visit Africa. My parents were less than thrilled with her when they had to drag me to the doctor, kicking and screaming…

This teacher also decided that a class full of kindergartners needed to learn how to use public transportation. So she took us all out of school, loaded us on a city bus, and took us out for donuts. Not that we didn’t enjoy the treat, mind you – she just forgot about little things like permission slips and letting the school principal know where we were. My parents came to pick me up, after school, and the whole class was missing!

Oh, as for She shows much interest in learning to read and is much less mechanical about it than she was at first… I could read by the time I was three. E.C. wasn’t happy because she couldn’t hold my attention with “See Spot run. See Spot pee on the rug.” She had the nerve to lecture my parents about teaching me to read. “That’s the school’s job!” she supposedly said. Incidentally, I failed my first I.Q. test, and the next year, flunked my “Reading Readiness Test.” Take these things with a grain of salt, when it comes to your own kids.

“Well, what were we supposed to do?” my parents asked E.C. “Keep the books under lock and key?”

Just one of the fun things I dug out of a cardboard box my dad left here on his last visit. “Holly An’s School Years.” You should see the dorky picture from Seventh Grade. Or not.

c.1500, from Latin ironia, from Greek eironeia “dissimulation, assumedignorance,” from eiron “dissembler,” perhaps related to eirein “to speak”

1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony
2 a: the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b: a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c: an ironic expression or utterance
3 a (1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity b: incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony tragic irony
4: This article.

Copyright 2008 Holly Jahangiri


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
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18 thoughts on “Antisocial? I Know I Am, But What Are You?”

  1. Had my Montessori school teacher written something like that, my father would have set fire to the school. Unfortunately for me, I had teachers who overestimated my abilities and capabilities and living up to them was my problem at home. Being the eldest did not make it any easier as I had to live up to that responsibility as well. My late mother graduated from High School along with my younger brother and after that did a diploma course in Monetessori Teaching. It was then that she realised how unrealistic my teachers had been! By that time of course, I was away from home and fending for myself and these things did not matter.

    All teachers are not all that they are cracked up to be.

    Thanks for taking me back to my own childhood.
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    1. LOL – I thought her point was that I wasn’t ENOUGH of a troublemaker, back then. Unless trying to read Shakespeare in grade school would be called “trouble.” You could have a valid argument in there, somewhere. 🙂

      By the way, the reason I flunked the “Reading Readiness Test” is that I could READ the title – “Reading Readiness Test” – and it was a pattern completion thing. You know, pictures of shapes: circle, square, triangle, circle, square, _______ (what comes next?) I had NO IDEA WHAT THAT HAD TO DO WITH READING WORDS. 🙂 I missed 29/30 – nearly impossible to do, statistically speaking.

      The IQ test? Two questions stand out in mind: “What color is coal?” (Um, being a child of the 60s, WHY would I even know that? I was never in trouble with Santa Claus, either – I really had NO data points.) And the other showed a picture of a man, sitting in a chair in his living room, reading a newspaper. It was raining – in his living room. The question? “What’s wrong with this picture?” My answer (which I stand behind to this day): “Nothing.” Reasoning? He doesn’t mind, why should I? And, it’s a picture – how could there be any “right” or “wrong” to art? (See, I had TWO good reasons for my answer. But technically, I can claim to have “flunked” an IQ test.)
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  2. Yep. Troublemaker. My kindergarten teacher told me I didn’t skip right. I DIDN’T SKIP RIGHT! Alas, we didn’t move when kindergarten was eliminated and I had her again for first grade.

    #4 Daughter’s kindergarten teacher wrote me that our daughter was immature. I’m like, “WTF — SHE’S FIVE YEARS OLD. Of COURSE she’s immature!” That woman is still known to our entire family as Frau Messerschmidt.
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    1. I’m pretty sure someone told me I didn’t skip right, too! (But I think it was a friend, and it was right up there with “You run/punch like a GIRL!” I was probably still trying to figure out why that was a BAD thing… Fortunately, I don’t think I cared enough to be overly upset by either. LOL There’s a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to SKIP?

    2. re: “immature” – my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher said the same thing! She wanted to keep her back another year. I asked for specific examples. “Well, she still likes to get hugs from me in the morning…” WTF? I can teach her not to, if you consider that inappropriate behavior… The teacher backtracked and said “No, no, no!” at which point, I decided the teacher just liked her so much she wanted to KEEP her for another year. I assured her I’d bring K. back for visits. Unfortunately for them both, we moved to Houston and that wasn’t an option.

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