I never thought of myself as a rebel growing up.

When I was in 8th grade, I wrote a short story for English class. It’s something that I wish I still had a copy of, not because I think it would be any good, but because the teacher refused to grade it.

I went to a Catholic school, and the story was influenced by my taste in reading material, which trended to fantasy and science fiction. In the story, which I do remember was lovingly bound and illustrated with construction paper, a young girl, who is a witch, must make the choice of whether to sacrifice her younger brother or save her village. She cannot have it both ways. In the end she chooses the greater good and her brother seems to come back to her as a raven.

My teacher didn’t even want to touch the story or hold onto it. I was called to her desk after class and informed that it would not be graded and I had one day to write and turn in another story. I remember being disgusted with her inability to separate content from form and give the story a grade. I had worked on it so hard, and I simply wanted a grade, some marking of how good the story was in itself. That wasn’t to be.

I went home, still fuming and slammed out a story that was, in my mind, stupid, about a child getting lost in the big city and then finding his way home. It was drivel, printed out on a piece of shaggy notebook paper, in turn pasted on a hastily colored piece of construction paper (part of the assignment was to illustrate the story). That story got an A+ from my relieved teacher.

I recently told a friend about that incident, and she told me that I was indigo. I had only heard the term indigo child on television, in a CSI episode about a terrifyingly smart young girl. My immediate thought was, no, I’m not that smart, but when I looked up the term later, a different objection arose. According to Wikipedia, the term is used to describe children that don’t fit in well with structured environments, and is often used to try to cover up behavioral problems such as ADD by glorifying the problems as being special. To that too, I thought, not me.

I did well in school, for the most part, excelling when given sound structural guidelines. I loved standardized testing days, and pop quizzes. In grade school math, we would often be given “mad minute” quizzes, sheets of math problems with a one minute time limit. I loved finishing them, and finishing them correctly, though I didn’t always do either. It never seemed to me that the scholastic aspects of school bothered me, just the social ones.

Then I remembered almost failing a quarter of 5th grade English because I thought the project the teacher assigned was stupid and I refused to do most of it (and the part I did do showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm). I remembered cheering inside even as I was frightened when another student threw a tantrum and called our teacher names. I almost failed 6th grade vocabulary class because I refused to play by the teacher’s rules, not because I lacked knowledge of the English language (the ‘F’ was literally whited out on my report card – I think the teacher feared to send me to summer school).

For me, structure was not a problem, as long as I liked it. But once it went from structure to idiocy (in my young opinion), I refused to go along with it, no matter the cost. I look back on that behavior now and wonder how I did that, and how I could fail to see the inherent strength in some of the choices that I made.

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