“It's Not Better - Just DifferentShe said.

I was 13, I looked up at the art teacher and glared. She was smiling and bobbing her head. I looked at her clay necklace and long formless sea-foam coloured skirt. I looked at the pictures on the wall. I blinked.

“Yes. But I’d like to know which one is better? Which is the best?”

I knew what I thought, but she seemed to be thinking hard. After we hung our work on the wall I had ranked all of the drawings rapidly. It was easy. On the wall I could almost see a little number by each one. It was so clear to me, I just wanted to know if she saw the same thing.

“Susan” she said in the patronising teacher voice “you can’t really say that one drawing is better than another. They each express something personal.”

“mmm” I said. I had learned to filter out nonsense by this age. I had learned that grownups often lie. I didn’t have to accept this. “Yes.” I said, looking for the words “Then I would like to know which one expresses the best ‘something personal.”

Again the sappy teacher voice cranked up again “Are you worried that your isn’t ‘good enough’ ?”

“Mine is plenty good.” I said a little taken back “I’ll take it out. Judge among the others.”

I took my drawing off the wall. It was good but my little numbers had not put it at #1. it was not the best. But that was not the point. I wanted to get to the root of the baffling behaviour of the teacher. But, now she was losing her patience.

“Don’t you have to eat lunch?”
“I want to know first.” I said, almost ready to shout. “I can’t tell you!” she said finally stern, finally speaking to me like an adult.
“Oh, but you know then.” I said with a smile.
“Sure, I know but I can’t tell you! It isn’t right. It simply isn’t done. Now, if you get smart with me I’ll have you see Ms.Saddler.”

I had my answer! There really was a best, but grownups are afraid to say. I vowed then that for as long as I lived I would never hold back judgment. I’d never be like her. It’s not different . . . just better!