Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Now I Know My ABCs

It’s Tuesday, so once again I’m telling it to Janet at The Art of Getting By. This week she asked for a memorable first day of school story.

So here it is – my introduction to the public education system, a story in which I am a smartass before I even knew how.

It’s my first day of kindergarten. The bell hasn’t rang yet, and I’m just waiting outside with all the other kids. (I find this hard to believe, now—I’d think my mom would be with me, at least, and everyone else’s moms would be with them. But apparently we were all, K through fourth-graders, standing outside the school alone, possibly unsupervised.)

An older kid comes up to me and pushes me against a wall. I’m terrified of him. I’m not a big kid, and he’s towering over me. He’s a second grader, I think. “What’s your name, kid?” he snarls. It’s a second-grader snarl, designed to instill fear and respect.

“Bobby,” I say. I try to make friends: “What’s yours?”

“Jay.” Now, I have no idea what he wants with me. Kindergarten was only half days, so I didn’t even have lunch money to extort. Most likely, he just wants to be seen as a big guy among his peers – although how pushing around a kid two years younger will accomplish this, I have no idea. But there he is, big tough guy. Jay.

And I start laughing, like he made a joke. “That’s not a name,” I said. “That’s a letter.” Jay’s no longer a tough guy. He’s some kind of comedian. He’s named after a letter! It’s a real knee-slapper to a 5-year-old. This guy kills me!

His friends have heard the exchange, and start laughing. Jay lets me go, flustered. I told him he’s named after a letter, and he’s got nuthin’. Not only did I never have any trouble with him again, but we later became friends through Indian Guides. I haven’t heard anything about him in years, though.

Maybe I should send him a letter.



Janet said...

Good story. I once had a friend named Paige, but before she became my friend, I was really aware of her name. Her brother's name was Marc. I always thought about Marc writing on the Paige. I was a weird child, I know.:)

Sayre said...

Great handling of a bully! My son (a second grader) has had a couple of bully problems, but seems to have handled them himself. We talked about how to do it back when he was in preschool and had this one kid that kept knocking him over.