• Annamaria Nemeth

There is good trouble and bad trouble...

Challenges at school and home became harder to live with. By the time I reached third grade, my disdain for school really showed and it felt like I was always in trouble. This, of course, made me act out even more. If it weren’t for the trouble I would get into at home, I’m sure that my negative behavior would have increased at school.

As I got older, for my safety, I tried conforming to the expectations at school. However, there would be regular visits from government officials who showed up in the classroom. They would question us about our home life, mostly fishing to see if our parents or we were anti-government. So many questions were asked; even including about our religious beliefs. When it came to my answering questions about my faith, I was not going to lie about my belief in God. That absolutely was not acceptable.

I would listen to the government officials’ speech about our president, communism, and how you can’t have two Gods. With all due respect, I refused to worship a president, or any other human being for that matter. To be in a situation where there were no human rights, where there was widespread discrimination, where people had to fight for food, our government was nothing to worship or support.

One thing I knew for sure: I would never treat others like our government was treating its people. I would not judge others based on their ethnicities, skin color, religious beliefs, or in any other way besides how they treated me and others. When I spoke up and stated those beliefs to the government officials, that conversation required a follow-up visit at home from these officials.. They questioned my parents. They made it clear that I needed to be corrected about my behavior and beliefs, and if I weren’t, we could be in trouble. Specifically, I could be in trouble. If they only knew...

I was expecting a beating when they left. I was watching my father and I braced myself for whatever was coming. To my surprise, he said he was proud of me. Wait, what? He then proceeded to encourage me to speak out about my beliefs and not to allow government intimidation to stop me..... Who are these people anyway? Why can they just come into our house? Why should they be allowed to do that? Hmmmm

I had reached a point in my life where I was tired of how things were. I was tired of my home life, tired of school. I was fed up with all of it. It was time for a change. But what can a little kid do at age eight? Well, for starters I had to fix my school situation. So I had to figure out my options. Did I have enough time to get my grades up to the acceptable demands my father placed on me? Basically that would need to be perfect scores. In the middle of the school year that was not possible..

So what would be my next best option?. How could I acquire a grade report card? I started trying to figure this out. They keep the report cards in the administrative offices and I needed at least one. There are things we must do when we feel the need to survive, so I broke into the administrative offices and stole a grade card. My heart was pounding, I had never done anything like this before. Not only did I steal a grade card but I had to figure out how to falsify a signature and grades. (Maybe the government should know about these skill sets too when they pick my future career!)

So this started a couple of years of falsifying grades and making my life easier at home. The first time I introduced the “grade book” to my father, my palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and I was so scared. Could he tell the difference? No! He looked at it and life was good! There were no repercussions over grades. The more I did this, the better I got at doing it. At school, as much as I hated being there, I kept passing grades. And at home I had perfect grades.

This worked pretty well. Sadly it gave me a huge taste of rebellion and a knack for fighting the status quo.I became more outgoing, started making more friends, playing with other kids. But I was still being bullied, the discrimination was still there, and that, too, had to change. My fighting spirit grew stronger and I mustered up every strength I had to start fighting back and changing things in my life. What also got stronger was the need to fight for others including my mom and my sister.

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