I don’t know when I first realized it exactly. Maybe it was in Kindergarten when I was forced to play “Mama Tiger” or “Pretend I’m your sister puppy, and I get stolen by the evil eagle, and then you’re really sad, and you search everywhere for me and you can’t find me, and so you’re sad again, but then you hear me do this secret call for help, and you remember that that’s our secret call for help, so then you come looking for me, and then you have to fight the evil eagle to save me.”
I never liked that game.
Or perhaps it was because of the hike my 4th grade class took in the woods behind the playground to look and talk about nature. We were walking, and I came across a terrifying spider. I imagined the frightening possibilities: It could jump on me. It could bite me. It could jump on me and bite me, and I would be so terrified and unable to rid myself of the spider that I would run in no specific direction screaming until I hit a tree and knocked myself out. The spider would be the winner. Before any of this could take place, I stepped on it, and triumphantly said, “HA. Take THAT, spider! No trees for me today!” That was a mistake. A girl in my class was especially fond of spiders. She had them as pets. During recess, my friends and I would often spot her sitting by the tires, talking to a new spider friend she found beneath the gravel. Spider Girl heard my fatal stomp as well as my condemning words. Bewildered and grief stricken, she whirled around, looked at me with her now huge, tear-filled, angry red eyes and screamed, “YOU MURDERER!!!!” and ran further into the woods to find some sort of comfort beneath the pines.
She didn’t like me very much.
Or quite possibly it’s because of the time I was asked to come to the Counselor’s Office during my 5th grade year because “someone wanted to address an issue”. When I was informed via pink slip, my stomach sank. What did I do wrong?! was the only thing going through my head. I sadly and slowly walked to the Counselor’s Office, trying to think of any hints I had unknowingly dropped that may have caused someone to think I was unbalanced and needed to play board games by myself for awhile. The counselor, an overbearingly happy curly-haired woman, was waiting for me at her door.
“HOLLY!! Thank you for coming this afternoon. There are some feelings going around that need to be addressed, as you may have read on my pink slip! And we will address them and everyone will be happy! Does that sound good to you??”
“GOOD! Come on in!”
I was already miserable and I hadn’t even walked in yet. The baseball field was calling my name, and there I was, being forced to talk about feelings and I didn’t even know what feelings I was supposed to have. The counselor took my hand and led me into her room, which was pink and stocked with self-esteem boosting posters of whales and polar bears, all of which told me to feel good about myself. Mrs. Counselor told me to be seated, and then I figured it out. There she was – the girl who I had avoided since the day I knew she existed. I didn’t have an exact reason as to why I needed to avoid her; I just knew that she would probably be some kind of trouble. And yet there she sat, looking sad and alone, ready to pour out whatever was on her heavy heart. Mrs. Counselor informed me that, Carol here, was feeling left out.
“Isn’t that right, Carol? Holly’s actions are causing you to feel like you’re not included?”
WHAT? She feels left out? Left out of what? Left out because we’ve never spoken, ever? Left out because we’ve never been in the same class together? Left out because I like to play baseball and she likes to stand by the swings with her crowd of girl friends? Ohhh… Was it because I got to be wrapped as a mummy last year when we studied Egypt? Maybe that’s it. That’s understandable I guess – I really liked being the mummy.
Mrs. Counselor must have seen me thinking to myself and looking quite confused, so she did what any other nice person would have done to help a person in distress – She offered me her frog beanbag.
“Holly, you look like you’re having some trouble. Would you like to hold Mr. Frog? He’d be very happy to see you!”
What I wanted to say was something along the lines of, The last thing I want to do is hold a small smiling beanbag that you call “Mr. Frog”. That is the worst thing I’ve heard all day, except the part when I was told I had to come see you, and also except the part when you told me I needed to talk about my feelings, which last time I checked, consisted of wanting to be a rock star softball player and an awesome dirt bike rider! Now WHAT is Carol’s problem!
“No thanks. I’m fine.”
“Awww he’ll be so sad! Well, if you need Mr. Frog, just let me know! Ok?”
All of recess time later, Carol and Mrs. Counselor both explained the issue to me. Carol and I had a mutual friend, Miranda, and Carol felt that Miranda and I were becoming better friends than Miranda and Carol, thus, Carol felt that Miranda was choosing me over her, and that she would never get to hang out with me and Miranda. Mrs. Counselor spotted my wide eyes and dropped jaw, so she offered me Mr. Frog, which I promptly declined, again. Basically, I wasn’t allowed to leave until I apologized, because in the Counselor’s Office, saying sorry makes everything better, as does Mr. Frog. I attempted to explain that I had no idea that Carol even had this problem because we never. talk., and Miranda and I were friends because WE HAVE CLASS TOGETHER. My explanation didn’t work, so I apologized and very bitterly agreed to, if the opportunity showed itself, let Carol hang out with Miranda and me.
Mrs. Counselor ended the session with a song about friendship, then let us go free, with Carol following behind me. Once I heard the door shut, I spun around, ready to discuss how I really felt about being dragged into the “feelings room” for no reason. Before I could even snarl, Carol smiled an obnoxiously huge smile and said, “Sorry about that – Glad we can be friends someday!” then she skipped all the way down the hall and around the corner to her classroom.
And that’s the day I realized that girls can be a pain, and it was the year I sought revenge on Mr. Frog.