Memories of Grade School: Falling Asleep in Class - How Embarrassing!
This afternoon, I found myself wanting to "nod off" as I was trying to get some paperwork done.
These days, I have the excuse of "getting older" to fall back on, but I got to thinking about how I have almost always had a tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate moments.
I think I might have been in about 4th or 5th grade — back when we were still living in Denmark— the first time I first became consciously aware that I was having a difficult time staying awake in some classes.
Maybe this happens to all kids... I don't know.
However, I do remember the particular sequence of events... how these sudden "nap attacks" would happen, each time.
It often occurred during history class, which I found particularly boring. The teacher — one Mr. Bengtson — would be writing important dates on the board and droning on endlessly about some event in 15th century Britain that I really could care less about.
Slowly, I would grow aware of the hardness of my wooden chair... that plain flat seat... and I would start moving my butt around, a bit. Next, there would be the sensation of tiny "pin pricks" on my rear end... a little bit like the pins-and-needles sensation when your foot goes to sleep.
At this point I would have totally "left" the world of history, to exclusively focus on the growing discomfort in my butt. I'd look at the board and the teacher... and it seemed like nothing had changed. Or so it felt. Then I would look at the clock on the wall... and inwardly feel dread at the idea of having to sit there for another 27 minutes.
I was well aware that I was "supposed to" be focusing on what was going on in class... but my eyelids started to feel incredibly heavy, like I hadn't slept in several days. At the same time, I was acutely aware of how embarrassing it would be if I actually fell asleep in class, so I'd move my head to try to wake up a bit.
I'd look out the window, at the weather; at anything the moved; trees in the breeze; birds in the nearby tree; the sound of crows in the school yard, looking for leftover crumbs from lunch. Our "home room" was on the 3rd floor... and faced a local road, on the other side of which was the local train station. I'd watch people come and go, getting ready to take the trains. I envied them their freedom.
By this point, the teacher's voice was just a backdrop of "white noise" against my efforts to stay awake... and my wandering mind had left the building, mostly turning to memories of taking the train into the city to visit various family members. History was no longer even part of my awareness. What history?
I'd only look out the window for a short while... then I'd "look" back at my desk, or at my history book. I grew extremely adept at looking like I was "concentrating" and "paying attention" even though what I was actually looking at was mainly a fog...
From time to time, I'd "snap back" to where we were — in history class — Mr. Bengtson still talking about some battle.
Late spring and early fall was invariably the worst, because it would get hot and stuffy in the classroom... and that would add another layer of discomfort, leading me to — quite literally — nod off for some time.
I expect it was only a few seconds, most of the time... but there were at least a couple of occasions where I would "come to" with a start because Mr. Bengtson was standing right next to me, clearing his throat, while the rest of the class was giggling and snickering.
Even when I didn't get caught directly, the "danger zone" came when he finished his lecturing and started asking questions; looking for "class participation." I did not do well when called upon, unless I knew the answer ahead of time. Which I seldom did.
Many years later, I was actually tested for Narcolepsy but it didn't really seem to apply.
I still don't have answers to this "thing" that has been with me, most of my life.
My doctor once said that it sounded like my brain gives me a shot of melatonin at times when it should be giving me cortisol or even adrenaline. Including when I really need to concentrate!
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!
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Created at 2023-03-25 00:50 PST
It's very interesting, I love this kind of conundrum of the human brain which is so good at setting up strategies to avoid reality when it doesn't suit us. Maybe you are just a dreamer (in the creative sense)?