Everything I need to know about life I learned in the fourth grade. I know, Robert Fulgrum learned it all in Kindergarten, I guess I was a slow learner. Fourth grade was my favorite grade. My teacher was Miss Katie, I think, and she was cute and fun. She was the teacher and suggested I write my own dictionary. I used to answer questions with words she had never heard of. They made sense to me, and she could see why. Teach a kid prefixes and suffixes and they will create their own language. It’s amazing anybody ever really learns English. All those rules…and the exceptions…it’s a challenge.
Fourth grade is also where I learned about ‘different people.’ I may have noticed them before, but I distinctly remember them surfacing in Fourth grade. There was one girl in particular named Hannah, that stands out in my mind. Hannah was obviously older than the rest of us. (boobs) We weren’t how many times she had been held back, but she must have been. I was, (and still am some would say) naive about things. Hannah was just another girl to play with on the play ground. It didn’t matter to me if she was older, curvier, or even absent have the school year.
I think I have established my dorkiness before but this is the year where it really started to manifest itself. In fourth grade I tended to grow faster than our school clothing budget, so my pants got shorter than one would like. I solved the problem by rolling up my pants and wearing crazy knee high socks. Pretty creative, or completely dorky? You decide. At the time, I didn’t realize how different I was being. At the time, I didn’t notice if others were laughing at me. Maybe my school was totally accepting of everyone and nobody really thought of me as dorky. Maybe I live in a bubble.
As I am out on the playground each day, I watch the kids in their uniforms and think about how awesome it is that they are all set up on an even playing field. Uniforms take so much stress off of them all. I find myself commenting on how cute their hair bows or shoes are. I’m not sure if it is a good thing, me pointing out their differences, but I can’t help it. Differences can make us feel special and unique, but they can also scar us for life.
One of my differences, besides my crazy socks, was my over bite. ‘Bucky’ was the name I was called quite often by those with the perfect teeth. The big glasses only encouraged more names as I got older. I often wondered, why did kids need to call names? I mean, I didn’t call anybody names. Everyone just was who they were. If everyone looked the same, how would we tell each other apart? Again, naive. I wonder if the parents of the name callers knew their kids were rude and bully-ish. Was it something they learned at home?
In my home, we didn’t call names like that. True, as we got older, some kids in my family became very critical and judgmental….and they still are, but I don’t think they ever called people names to their faces. I don’t believe they learned it from our parents tho, it’s just who they are.
My dilema is this. As I watch the kids at school, I can see the cliques forming and the leaders rising up. One girl in particular has the great potential to be a ‘Material girl.’ She is already daring people to do things, being mean to other girls and excluding them from her ‘group’, and prancing around the playground like she owns it. I know this girl. I know this girl’s mom. If I was the mom….I would want to know. I would want to help my daughter be more compassionate and to use her obvious leadership qualities for good. But how would I take the information when presented to me? Especially if I was a diva as well? I hate it when the girls come to me sadly, saying they aren’t allowed to hang with the ‘cool’ girls. What do I do? I can’t fix all their problems….it’s part of the rite of passage to have your heart stepped on repeatedly.
Maybe I should just stay out of it. After all, I was picked on, ridiculed, left out, laughed at, and left alone way more than I wanted to be, but it made me who I am today. I think I am stronger, kinder, and more accepting of others than maybe some of those name callers are. Honestly, part of me just really wants to knock the crown off this little girl….cause I said so.
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