Writing the Self 3: Big, Strong Boys

Writing the Self 3: Big, Strong Boys

    As I sat in my desk, I listened to Mrs. Clark describe how excited she is to finally watch our performance tonight. For nearly three months, we had been working, relentlessly, on our songs for the Christmas Concert with our lovely music teacher, Miss. Evans. Mrs. Clark, our grade 3 homeroom teacher, seemed to be looking forward to hearing us sing, but I felt quite the opposite about the upcoming event. Anxiety washed over me when I imagined myself on stage. There was a good chance the whole town would be attending the concert and rows of chairs would fill the floor space of the big gym. The thought of all those eyes on me caused my cheeks to warm and I had no doubt they were sporting some shade of red, by now. What if I screw up or forget the words? I could lip synch, but there was no avoiding my solo line. In an attempt to calm my nerves, I passed my rough, pink eraser back and forth in my hands.

Eventually, Mrs. Clark changed the subject and I was grateful. She informed us it was reading time and that seemed more like something I would consider exciting. Unfortunately, I barely made it halfway down the first page of my new favourite Junie B. Jones book, before a knock on the classroom door stole my attention. The faces of all my classmates, including my own, turned to the wooden door as it swung open to reveal everyone’s favourite staff member. Our janitor, Mr. Cooper, stood with a big smile on his face. “Good morning, Mrs. Clark and good morning, grade threes. It’s so nice to see everyone’s smiling faces,” his cheerful voice addressed the class.

“How can we help you today, Mr. Cooper?” asked Mrs. Clark

“If you wouldn’t mind, I could use the help of three strong boys. We need to set up all the chairs in the big gym and clear all the heavy equipment off the stage for tonight.”

Almost all of the twenty boys in my class raised their hands eagerly. This has happened lots before. Mr. Cooper often needs some assistance with some sort of heavy-lifting around the school. The boys around me waved their arms, begging and hoping Mrs. Clark would pick them and they could avoid reading time. I was happy Mr. Cooper only ever wanted the boys to help him. I loved reading time, and I never wanted to miss anything important during class time. I knew most of the boys in my class were quite strong; they almost always did more push-ups in gym class than any of the girls. Mrs. Clark chose Ben, Will, and Johnny. Her last choice caused me to stifle my laughter. Johnny was not strong, at all and Mr. Cooper asked for strong boys. Heck, even I could beat Johnny in an arm wrestle, and I’m a girl.


Writing The Self 2: Kids Like That

Writing the Self 2: Kids Like That

It was my second week of the second grade and I did not want recess to end because it was my favourite time of the day. I was sitting on the monkey bars when the teacher on duty rang her bell, telling all the kids it was time to go inside. I begrudgingly removed myself from the bright yellow monkey bars and my runners hit the rocky floor of the playground with a crunch. I began to skip towards the school alone. The sleeves of my sweater were tied around my waist and with each hop, they took turns swaying into my vision and flapping against my leg. It was only September and it was the kind of weather that caused me to shiver during morning recess and sweat by the afternoon. I reached my left hand up to wipe the sweat from my forehead.

Through the big foyer doors and down the hallway, I walked closer and closer to my classroom. Right before my classroom was the principal’s office and out of curiosity, I took a glance inside to see if anyone had been sent there during recess. The principal, Mr. Brown, had an office right across from the secretary’s desk and beside the secretary’s desk sat three chairs. Those were the chairs for the kids who misbehaved; the bad ones. I, of course, never sat in one and I wondered what it felt like to get sent to see Mr. Brown. My palms started to turn clammy at the mere thought of getting in trouble. Could I get in trouble for being nosy? I took one step forward toward my classroom but gave in to the devil on my shoulder and stole one last peek at the three chairs. My class was notorious for causing disturbance during recess so it came as no surprise to me to see one of my fellow classmates sitting across from Mr. Brown’s door. His name was Tyler and I did not know him as well as my other peers. I knew everyone in my grade but Tyler was not always around. He would come to school for a month then leave for two then be back again and so on. When Tyler did come to school, he spent a lot of his time waiting in one of those three chairs. He always wore pants that were too big around his waist and a large white t-shirt and although he wasn’t the only kid in my grade that had dark skin, he had the darkest skin. Gabby was Columbian, Ehsan was Pakistani, and David’s mom came from Mexico and even though their skin tones were all darker than mine, Tyler’s was much darker than theirs. Finally satisfied with my snooping for the day, I gave Tyler a sheepish wave which he returned and I began skipping down the hallway.

My friend, Ashley, greeted me as I entered Mrs. Miller’s grade two room. “Did you see Tyler was in Mr. Brown’s office AGAIN today?” I replied by telling her about my keen snooping skills and that I even sneaked in a wave without the secretaries seeing me. I told her about how upset I would be if I ever got sent to the principal’s office and she agreed with me. “Kids like that are probably used to it though,” she said. “Bad kids?” I asked, “Yeah, and black kids.” she shrugged. I had trouble understanding what Ashley meant but there was no other kid in our grade that looked like Tyler and he was always causing trouble, could those two things be related?

(Disclaimer: The names in this story have been changed.)