Here is a picture of me when I was little. Yes, I’m the one on the right.
These are the visible details: I had glasses, liked to eat (messily), and was raised by parents who didn’t know how to dress or accessorize a girl.
What is not pictured was my odd obsession for office supplies and fake education. For one of my youngish birthdays, my friend Laura (middle)–with the obvious help of her mom–bought me a box filled with every kind of office supply imaginable: sticky notes, whiteboard and pens, clips, notebooks, binders, mini staplers and tape dispensers. . . . It was Office Depot, compacted. After witnessing such euphoria upon opening this present, my parents must have been more than a touch concerned for how I’d turn out.
With these newfound supplies, I opened my own schoolhouse in my bedroom. I created the persona of Ms. Basil, teacher and dictator by profession (and lover of herbs…?). I subjected my sister and mother to spelling and math, and found it necessary to criticize my 3-years-elder sister on her addition. It was not uncommon in this one-bedroom schoolhouse for the lessons to end in tears, as I found it utterly disrespectful that my mom and sister should talk amongst themselves instead of listen to my explanation on the correct spelling of “though.” I’m sure these classes were the rare exception when my dad was glad to have a grueling commute and workday–anything to avoid the wrath of Ms. Basil.
But those early years proved formative. I opened my inbox today and found out my placement as a teacher’s assistant in Spain: Zorroza Secondary School, Bilbao. How ironic that Ms. Basil will be making a comeback, though this time hopefully without the use of corporal punishment that my mom and sister fell victim to.