Working with kids makes me think back to when I was a kid. Oh, the memories…
One day when I was in 2nd grade, I was the last kid to come into the classroom. I don’t remember why exactly, but the entire class was already there by the time I came in. I must have been coming back from the bathroom, or maybe the teacher had sent me on an errand. The entire class stared at me as I walked to my seat. Some people were snickering. You know that feeling you get when you know everyone knows something, but you’re left out of the loop? Everyone around you is talking about a hot piece of juicy gossip, but they’re not sharing it with you. And because you’re the only one who doesn’t know what it is, you start to get the feeling that it’s about you. This was one of those times. It’s a bad feeling. It puts me on edge, and gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach.
To this day I hate it when people talk about me behind my back. Even if they’re not saying anything bad, it still bothers me. I guess it’s because I’m not entirely sure what they’re saying, so I’m imagining the worst. My mind automatically assumes it can’t be something good, because if it were they could have said it in front of me. I think I tend to overreact when I realize people – even people I consider friends – have been talking about me when I’m not around.
I looked at my teacher. She looked back at me, and I could tell even she knew what it was, but wasn’t telling me.
“What is going on?” I thought.
The teacher told the kids to stop laughing, but she still didn’t clue me in as to what the big secret was. (Well, I guess it wasn’t a secret, since everyone knew except me.)
There was a girl in my class named Mary. She had short blond hair, and was tomboyish. Later at recess Mary and I were somehow the only kids on the playground. Maybe the others were playing in a different area or something, but for whatever reason, Mary and I were the only ones out there.
Mary came up to me and bashfully said, “Hey. I like you. I just think you’re cool. Sorry everyone else was laughing about it.”
My reply to her was something along the lines of, “Oh. Okay. Wanna play 4 square?”
(4 Square was the game back in the day.)
Yeah, I could have handled it better, but really, I was 7 years old, and had absolutely no interest in girls at the time.
Of course now that I think about it, it took a lot of guts for a 2nd grade girl to say what she said. But at the time I was too confused and sad that people were keeping secrets from me and talking about me to really process things. But at least I finally knew what everyone else was talking about.