2nd Grade & Why I’m Not Catholic

It’s open link night at dVerse!

The piece below recounts the actual events of a day at St. James Elementary School in Arlington Heights, IL. 1966, or so.


I flunked a phonics test and

Sister Eleanor is scowling like Satan:

goose-stepping back and forth, spitting

“God Hates You Brats.” She doesn’t know that God

likes kids, even brats and kids who flunk

phonics tests. The big kids call her a Nazi;

another word for booger–like snot–and the

funniest word in the world.

Booger Eleanor! I giggle and

she lurches at me like a rabid penguin. Now,

I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe and her claws

snarl the back of my neck while my lunch

hot-scratches my throat. Someone drops

a pencil and my face jack-hammers the desk where

my dog’s initials are because I love her and

long division is hard. Red plops from my

nose and the lisping boy with lazy-eye starts

crying because his last trip to the drinking fountain

is tinkling from his chair and onto his shoe.

Booger Eleanor is howling

and her face is sweat-gray. The lisping boy’s

belt is in her hand now, but Booger Nazi doesn’t get

to kill him because our normal teacher from

last year who isn’t a nun and doesn’t hate us,

or God,

strolls in with the Principal.


Susan Marie Shuman/ SusanWritesPrecise

St. James Catholic Church & Elementary School


34 Comments on “2nd Grade & Why I’m Not Catholic”

  1. God’s grace saved you. Too bad God gets a bad rap because of the evil called religion. Those kinds of moments can make or break a person. Glad you purged yourself of that hideous remembrance!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad I didn’t go to a Catholic school! I’ve heard so many stories about them and with this poem you’ve confirmed that they must be true! I love the perspective of a child and the language. I couldn’t help but smile at the lines:
    ‘Booger Eleanor! I giggle and
    she lurches at me like a rabid penguin’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the flow of this piece…keeping the story alive and almost out of breath in telling it, which I’m sure you would be! This sort of stuff would be illegal now…should have been then, probably was….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mish. It is still hard to write about, hence the out of breath quality to it. Back then, nuns beating kids up was almost the norm. No one made a big deal out of it, unfortunately.


  4. She had no clue about religion that nun:

    Mark 10.14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

    Not that I’n religious but I still know a bit of the bible.

    Liked by 1 person

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