Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Embarrassing Stories

I was seventeen, in my last few months as a senior in high school, feeling very old and ready to move on to the next stage of my adult life.

One of my classes was released-time so I could go to the elementary school (for students ages six to twelve) and do reading recovery with a young boy who had recently been adopted from Russia. It was a great program that my mom had established in schools across Utah County, and thanks to her they had all the books and supplies needed to give struggling readers personalized, focused attention and help get them up to grade level. I was happy to be a small part of it.

The day was in April, but bright, clear, and bitterly cold in that cruel way spring in Utah tends tends to throw at you. The wind, ever present in my hometown, had teeth that day, and even walking from the parking lot to the entrance of the school had me shivering. So it was with relief that I made my way down the empty main hall toward the library, thinking about what I would do with my reading buddy that day. Also maybe thinking about boys. Because that's what seventeen-year-old Kiersten did.

I didn't even notice the man standing in the middle of the hall until he put his arm out to block my way.

"You need to go outside for recess," he said.

Needless to say, Very Nearly Adult Me was mortified. And I did not go outside for recess.

41 comments:

Josin L. McQuein said...

I can so relate to that. :-D

And it's very difficult to get into the "grown-up" mindset to tell people like that off when you know they already think you're a kid.

Carradee said...

When I was in middle school, the hall-monitoring teachers were nasty to my mother until they realized she was a parent.

Personally, I still regularly get asked how I'm liking high school—and you know that folks guess high when they ask a question like that.

Thankfully, I haven't been handed the kiddie menu in the past 3 years. (Of course, saying that is asking to get handed one, because I can still pass for 12.)

In general, when I'm speaking to a fellow adult and they start getting an incredulous expression, I comment that "Yes, contrary to my appearance, I am more than old enough to drink legally."

rebeccaenzor said...

I have the opposite problem - I was always taller than everyone else in my class (and the youngest, I don't know how that worked out), so I always had high-water pants. This was, of course, before capri's were cool, so I guess I'm just a trend-setter and no one knew it in middle/high school.

Claire Dawn said...

If I ever meet you in person, I want those to be my frist words to you. :)

Laura W. said...

Wow, I used to get mistaken for a middle-school/high school kid, but how do you mistake a 17-year-old as under the age of 10? Maybe it's a failing of tall people, haha. Shorter does not mean younger. :)

Kelley said...

Haha. I can so relate. The day before college started my good friend and I were trying to find our classes (I went to University of Wisconsin Madison.. BIG school). We were walking down a hallway and two professors were passing us in the other direction. They didn't even bother to lower there voices when they said,

"My god, the students look younger and younger every year. I swear those two look like they can't be out of middle school."

Ouch.

And I still get asked for two forms of ID when I go to a bar. No worries. I figure looking younger is good :)

Julie said...

I have the opposite problem. I'm 16, but most people think I'm over 21. I've been offered alcohol countless times at restaurants. It actually made me giddy last week when someone told me I couldn't sign for my brother to go to the batting cages unless I was 18 or older, which they didn't even mention the first time.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I remember my first year teaching when one of the cafeteria workers yelled at me for being in the teacher's lunch room because studtents weren't allowed.

Mieke Zamora-Mackay said...

At some point later in life, being thought of younger won't be as mortifying. It might even be considered a compliment.

Of course, that's just me. I'm old.

Holly L'Oiseau said...

Great story! When I was 21 the local librarian told me that I had to be at least 14 to get my own library card without parental consent. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Don't you hate it when people just assume things like that about you? I can't count how many times I've been places with my baby cousins and had people assume I'm their mom, even though I'm 16. Now when people come start talking to me about my cousins and are saying rude things about teen moms and how don't I regret it now and how my life is ruined, I start telling them about my other 3 kids that are at home, and that their dads are never around to take care of them so I just leave them with the oldest, who's 7. The look on their faces always makes my day.

BibliophileKBE said...

Oh, and by the way, I don't really have any kids.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

:)

When I was teaching I was asked for my hall pass countless times. My own vice-principal told me I had to sit with my teacher during an assembly. He caught his mistake and was rather embarrassed.

Small Review said...

Haha, yep been there. I'm often asked when I'm graduating high school and if I've picked which college I want to go to. Erm, I graduated college four years ago. I just hope that people continue to think I'm 10 years younger than I really am.

Robin Weeks said...

When I was 23, I went on a trip to Hawaii with my mother / clone. On the shuttle to pick up our rental car, we sat across from a couple of brothers who were about my age. One of them said "Hey! Brother, brother, sister, sister!"

My (happily married) mom was a bit upset when I responded with "mother, daughter!" What? I'm proud she looks so young. My future is in her face. :)

Kate said...

My mom relates! When she was a senior in high school she had a free period to go to the near by elementary school and help out as a T.A. in a fourth grade class, where the kids were taller then her. . . Yeah, being four feet and eleven inches pretty much rocks. :) You end up with the best stories to tell. . . :)

Lexie said...

XD What's funny is that I had almost the exact same experience. Granted, I'm fourteen, not seventeen, but I went to help tutor the second graders in reading and the teacher asked me why I was coming to class when I should be outside in recess.
Oh, the woes of being short.

Drina said...

I can relate! People always think I'm younger than I am. I'm 16, going into 11th grade, but at a recent family event, somebody asked if I was starting middle school yet. My mom always says that I'll appreciate it someday... The funny thing is that I'm not really short - I'm 5'6!

Taryn said...

I was always tall when younger and now I'm average, but I got mistaken in other ways.

When I was 7-8, I had a boy's haircut and always wore t-shirts and sweats. Every time I was at the gym, the desk people gave me a key to a locker in the boy's locker room.

Giles Hash said...

I have an aunt who had the same problem. She's 4'9". A friend of mine is an English teacher at a Colorado high school. She's about 5'2". She got asked for a hall pass all the time when she was still new. Some new teachers still get her, too, especially when she's in the teachers' lounge.

Sarah said...

I'm nineteen and volunteered at an elementary school field day in my town, and one of the parent volunteers asked me if I was one of the fourth graders participating in field day.

Valerie Kemp said...

LOL! That happened to me too. TWICE! Once my senior year, when I wandered into my old junior high and was told I needed to wait outside with the rest of the seventh graders, and then again when I was 20 and working on a film project at a middle school! And I'm 5'7". So... yeah.

I'll take being mistaken for younger over older any day, though.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I went through this phase where I seemed to be stuck in my early twenties. Starting at about 16, I was asked if I wanted to try whatever cocktail the restaurant was promoting, without being asked for ID. Of course, at that point I was out of high school and had a full-time job, so maybe my world-weariness already showed!

Then well into my thirties, I was continually carded for alcohol (and not in a you-look-under-30-so-I'm-legally-required kind of way; they actually questioned me about my ID a few times).

I just turned 40 this year (and starting to feel it), but my hubby is 48 and about 90% gray haired. Now we're starting to get "is this your daughter" when we're out together.

Without the miracle of henna, I would mostly be pretty gray too.

Sky said...

I can totally relate to that! But being short does have its upside! Its good for dodging tall peoples in crowded school hallways!

Cynthia Lee said...

I got carded today whilst buying cigarettes for my boyfriend.

I'm 41 years old.

It was weird.

Jordanne said...

Oh gosh. Yes....yes and yes and yes. :) I swear to you...short people will rule the world one day. All of you average to tall people....look out. Or rather....look down.

Elizabeth Poole said...

YES!

I am both short and I look very young. My husband, however, looks like an adult. When we went to the movies two weeks ago, the ticket agent asked "One adult, one child?"

A few months before that, we went to a sub place and he ran into his supervisor. The next day, the supervisor told him he had a beautiful daughter. Yes folks, when my husband and I are out people think I am his daughter.

I am currently pregnant. I can only imagine what people will say about "teen" pregnancy.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Aww! Kiersten! I want to hug you. Something similar happened to me. The woes of being a leprechaun.

MsFairyFreak said...

I'm ninteen and I've been asked if I had kids multiple times when I'm at work. Not okay.

A.M Bells said...

The only problem I get from being 22 and looking 15 is having high school boys and even middle school hitting on me. It's nice and flattering in a way, until said 14 year old follows you around at work and your work mates are excited for the now show they get. Thank you thank you! I give shows every week from 9 to 6 PM. :D

LinWash said...

That's a great story. A friend of mine who had just become a doctor always looked very, very young. When she worked as a resident, many of her patients who take one look at her before saying, "Ha ha. Nice try, kid. Now send the doctor in." Even though she would protest, "I AM the doctor," they would still insist that she send in a grown up.

Melissa said...

My first day teaching high school, I went to use the staff ladies room and a hall monitor stopped me and said, "You know you can't go in there!"

JH said...

I am only 5'2" and back when I was 20 I was doing my student teaching at a local high school. I would continuously get stopped in the halls and asked for my hall pass. Then when we moved after graduation, I tried to get a part-time job at the mall and was told by several places that I needed to be over 16. ---I am over 30 now and I still get asked for my ID for things like lotto tickets, let alone alcohol.

Kate said...

I like being short! I was five two for like two and half years and thought I was done growing and was totally happy with it! But then a couple months ago we decided to measure me again for fun and I was five-three and a half! I was so mad! I better not grow anymore! Really!

Cinnamon said...

Yeah, when I was doing my student teaching to complete my degree in education, I was charged student rates in the lunch line (at the middle school) for a month or so until they saw me talking 'grown-up like' to my mentor teacher! Geesh--and I'm 5'3"!

DaniGrams2 said...

I can totally relate, and I'm at that point in life right now. I've actually driven my sister somewhere for her soccer team, only to have her trainer think I'm one of the team,then ask to see my driver's license because he doesn't think I'm old enough to have one. Do I really look younger than fifteen and a half? I don't think I do.

erica and christy said...

I looked a little young at 22, so when I went to get the keys to my first classroom, the 60-something school secretary yelled at me for a good 3 minutes about how a high schooler can't "pull the wool over" her eyes.

After a phone call to the superintendant, I finally got to get in my own room. (and I'm 5'10", so it isn't always height that does it!)
erica

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards,
http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

Elanor Lawrence said...

This sounds like something that would happen to me... I'm 18 now, and my friend group ranges from 15-19. People always think I'm the youngest, sometimes just 12. I'm not sure I've had anything as extreme as your story, though...

Jessie said...

When I was 21 a flight attendant told me I couldn't sit in an emergency exit row unless I was 15 or older.

I'm 26 now and door-to-door sales people still ask me if my parents are home. I say "No, I live here with my husband." It confuses them.

TisforTonya said...

bwah-hahaha... when my second son was in 5th grade I was tutoring a classmate of his out in the hall... (this is... 4 years ago... so I was... ummm... well, I'd celebrated my 29th birthday at least 5 times by then...) and the librarian (who I've known for many years) come down the hall and asked us what we were doing in the hall...

I have stopped volunteering at the Middle School after being sent back to class repeatedly... apparently it's time to go grey just so I can avoid the principal's office :)