Saturday, July 28, 2012

What happens in the Schoolyard should stay in the Schoolyard

Everything happens in the school yard.  We remember playing in it all the time.  Who remembers running around playing tag, freeze tag, red rover, dodgeball, climbing monkey bars and the h-bars, swings and any other playground equipment.

When I was growing up in the seventies everything was made of metal and it hurt when you fell.  I remember falling from the monkey bars once and my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ellis came over and helped me fix my bruises and scrapes.

I was one of the kids who happened to have the school yard be practically across the street from my house, so my sister and I just had to go over when school was out and we often played there all day with friends.

But I guess the meat of the post should be about the things that really happen in the school yard.  The not nice things that happen when the adults aren't looking.  The things that mean girls say and what bullies will do to you and get away with until you go complain to the teacher.

Let's face it, the schoolyard can be a nasty place.  I was always the shy quiet girl, who wasn't mean to others.  My mother taught us not to be mean to others.

But once in a while, I was mean to some of my sister's friends.  She had two friends who were sisters that lived one street behind us.  They were always playing and I would play with them a lot too.  But sometimes my sister would have fights with them.  And sometimes I would stick up for my sister and try to fight one of them.  I didn't like that they would be mean to her sometimes.

And then things would get patched up and all of us would be friends again.  We wanted to continue playing with each other.

And sometimes there was a younger kid that lived a few streets away that would be mean to us or annoying sometimes and they would try to pick a fight with us.

And then there were the bullies who threw Bun-Bun up on the school roof.  I used to get picked on a lot by a bunch of the boys and a few of the girls would pick on me.

And then, there was one boy that came over towards my house one day when we were outside near our yard and he and another kid tried throwing tomatoes at me.  I think one did hit me and I went crying to my mom.  I'm sure she didn't hesitate to call the boys mom on that one.

But, generally I wasn't a mean girl.  And then once I remember being at the playground with my best friend, Kelly and she and another girl picked a fight.  I remember  some girl getting her face in the sand with grit in her teeth.  She either had fallen from those monkey bars or got her face pushed in by the other girl.  These monkey bars were the ones where it is one ladder at the top that you swing across with your hands.

And when I was an adult, I remember my mother telling me once after a conversation we had about my mother in law, and she had said, "It comes down to the schoolyard.  Some people never leave the schoolyard and if they see that they are getting to you they will keep at it because they know they will win."  Her words weren't exactly like that but that's the general idea that she wanted me to understand.  This was said in a time when my mother in law and I weren't getting along well.

And now, I want to discuss other things.  Like grudges and harboring negative feelings towards others.  Are you one of those kids that never forgets something and holds a grudge against the other child?  Maybe the other child did nothing wrong and the child that harbors not nice thoughts just thinks that something happened a certain way.  It happens all the time.

We all perceive things a different way.  Like for instance, the quiet and shy child might very often appear to be conceited or snobby when in fact she is not.  But to others who don't know her think that she is this way.

I'm glad I was a child in the seventies instead of one growing up in today's brutal school yard.  And we all know that the bus drivers see and witness it all.  Everything under the sun has been said.  I know this also because some of Jake's para educators have told me that they see every thing and have told me that some parents just aren't very good at it.

But, I guess why I am finding myself writing this post is something quite odd that happened today.  A while ago, I sent a friend request to a friend I had back in grammar school.  I hadn't heard from her in years and wanted to know how she was doing.  Basically eons ago.  We're talking probably 34-37 years ago.  That's a very long time.

Well, finally I went to facebook today just to type in my new post and link to the blog.  I had a message and it was from her.  It took her that long to respond back to me and I was kind of shocked upon reading it.  We were Bluebirds and my mother was the bluebird leader.

Well, she first of all commented that she basically just has a small circle of friends and family on FB and that she would like to leave it at that and for the two of us to wish each other a good life.  Which was fine.  I respect her wishes and that's the way it's going to be.

The words that really shocked and surprised me were:

I'd like you to know that though I hold very, very dear memories of your mother's sweetness from her time of hosting the Blue Birds group, I also recall distinctly feeling slighted by you and often looked down upon. I have one memory of being sent home from your grandparents home after having been invited over to play. 

This really floored me.  And I had to respond back to her message, that I never looked down on her or snubbed or ignored her.  That's just the type of person I wasn't.  But if she maybe felt ignored, maybe I could have been busy with another girl at the time.

Kids sometimes just want to play with certain friends sometimes.  And sometimes kids just don't want to play with other kids.  Some days my youngest daughter, Julia won't want to play online games with her sister.  Mollyanne started crying that her sister didn't want to play and we had to tell her that Julia just wants a break to play by herself.

Sometimes kids don't realize they are ignoring another child.  They could simply be preoccupied.  But it never means that they look down on another child.

So, maybe this girl felt that it was being happened to.  Kids can't be mind readers.  Just like adults can't.  I was probably just a child that was busy doing certain things and probably at times this other girl thought I was ignoring her or being looked down upon.

Good lord, I probably was seven or eight and didn't even know what being looked down upon meant.  The only person I ever looked down upon was one of my mother's cousins that lived in the country.  I think I was more embarrassed of her than anything.  She was visiting my Mom for a little bit and we probably took her to one of my gallery openings or a college or museum of art function.  I felt embarrassed of her as she was dressed dumpy and I was embarrassed of what she had done to her life.

Drugs and she basically got herself messed up for a long time and when she was visiting and was on the mend.  But I was still embarrassed about things that went down in that part of the family.  We loved visiting when we were kids and it was the place to go to and have a blast.

But then everyone got older and they became the black sheep of the family.  I'm sure things have changed there now.  It's been a long time and one can only hope that everyone has learned a hard lesson in life.

And today, what kind of got me thinking is that this girl has never forgotten her feelings.  And I also told her that most likely the reason that she got sent home was probably because my Nana probably didn't like something she said or did and she had the right to send her home.  I really have no collection of that day, but maybe my memory will come back to me.

I suddenly got thinking that maybe my Nana asked her to do something and she didn't do it and didn't mind her.  Maybe it was as simple as please take your sneakers off or maybe she did something else.  I really can't remember and nor do I care to rehash that day.  Jesus Christ it was 35-37 years ago and I am now a 44 year old woman who doesn't harbor negative feelings from so long ago.

We are supposed to be these 44 year old adults that suddenly realize that life is too short to harbor all these negative thoughts of yesteryear.  You know, the days when there were these big clicks in junior high and high school.  I was the shy girl and the clicks really bothered me.  But I didn't let anybody know it.  I just said hi to them and tried to be as friendly as I could be.  Given that I very often didn't know what to say.

And hey, even in Grammar school I was quiet and didn't know what to say.  It could have been that I was just quiet and this girl who I tried to friend on FB could have gotten the signals mixed up that I was ignoring her and thinking lower of her.  I'm thinking she must have had very negative feelings of herself for thinking that I was thinking lower of her.  Children can perceive this lots of times when in reality there is nothing there that implies it.

Other children very often get jealous of other children and could think that others are better than them.  When in reality, we are not any better than the child sitting in the next seat.  But we are always comparing ourselves to others even when we are at the tender young age of eight to 12.

We sit in our seats thinking that the more popular girls are prettier.

I often got jealous that the boys wouldn't chase me to kiss me in the first or second grade.  Instead they had other's that they favorited and tried to kiss.  I wasn't one of those girls.  But did you see me crying that I wasn't the one being kissed?  I was probably glad that they didn't kiss me.  I mean at that age, girls don't want a boy to kiss them.

And then, there were the times when a girl would pass out birthday invitations in grammar school and I wouldn't get one.  That's why my Mom always had us give our friends their birthday invitations in private so other girls wouldn't get jealous.

But I never harbored negative thoughts for a very long time towards any of my grammar school friends.  Even high school friends.  I never harbored any ill feelings towards anyone.  It just wasn't me.

I do remember going shopping with one of my best friends in high school many times and during part of the shopping excursion she couldn't find me.  It probably bothered her at the time, but always when she found me I had my nose in a romance book.  I had just wandered to a section where I wanted to buy some books.

And then today on the fact that she always remembered being sent home from my Nana's house, I also told the girl that it's very possible that my Nana could have also just sent her home because she didn't want any friends visiting that day.  Adults sometimes just want time alone with their grandchildren or have days when they don't want little friends in the house.

My Grammy used to kick us all outside for a little while so that the adults could talk.  We didn't like it sometimes but we had to follow their rules.  Adults can send a child home for any given reason.  And seeing as I can't recall the day, it's even possible that maybe I did something I wasn't supposed to do and the girl could have been sent home for punishment to me.  There's no way for me to know the reason unless if there is a phone to HEAVEN so I can call her up and ask her why she sent the girl home.

And now that I recall my childhood, my sister was friends with her sister and there could have been some fights.  Maybe there's even some sort of falling out that could have happened between me and this girl that I don't know about.

I was always friends with her in the early grades and we were in Bluebirds together.  And then we got older and I think we just parted ways.  She never told me why we didn't stay friends. With me, I just played with her and one day we just started saying hi to each other and for the duration of my school years I just said hi to her.  I was always friendly towards her and she would be friendly back, but that is what it remained.

Maybe she just decided that she felt ignored, snubbed and looked down upon and wanted to end the friendship.  Meanwhile, me, the other girl never did any of that to her and I probably got jealous when she was suddenly paying more attention to the other girls.  So on my end, I probably was thinking "Who is doing the snubbing?"

This girl wasn't the only one who felt snubbed.  Most children probably get snubbed at one point or another.

But if she felt that I thought lower than her it's all in her head.  How can she judge me?  How can one child think that they know what another child is thinking?  They don't know what I was thinking of.  I probably just had my mind on drawing and creating art or doing something else.

I probably had my head in the clouds when maybe she felt ignored.  And how was I to know that she was being ignored?  She was always busy with others too.

But anyway, I was so surprised that she could harbor something for such a long time.  And did she harbor ill feelings on getting sent home by my Nana?  Sounds like it.  She probably deserved to get sent home.  Her sister had a mean streak as I can remember some fights between her and my sister.  She name called.  I do remember that.

Maybe my Nana could have sent her home for something she said and my Nana might not have wanted me to be around her.  Who knows.

There were girls in class that were trouble makers.  Not to say that she was one of them, but there were girls that said things that we were just taught not to say.  We got in trouble if we said words we weren't supposed to say.

That's why my best grammar school friend and I were gutter mouths in private when our parents weren't in ear shot.  We'd be on our bikes and start talking foul mouthed and we would get laughing to ourselves.

And if you said "darn it" in front of my grammy, she would punish us for saying that.  My grammy was from the Old World.  My Nana was a little younger than her.

But anyway, the school yard should stay at the school yard and keep it all in the past.  Please bring up all the fun stuff, but leave all the bad and negative things in the past where they belong.  It's so trivial and not necessary in our daily lives in the present moment.

We were all children once.  We all had things that we wished didn't happen.  We all went through the awkward years.  We were either the victims or the bullies.  I was the victim.  I was the kind girl.  Do you think I got jealous when other girls from Blue Birds were better friends than I was with them?  No I didn't.  I just ended up finding my own best friend in Grammar school and that was good for me.  It doesn't mean that I wasn't friendly with the other girls.  I was, but I knew that I wasn't their best friend and it didn't bother me.

You can't force something.

So bury your schoolyard dilemnas.  Nobody wants to rehash the past.

Jennifer Jo Fay

Copyrighted July 28, 2012

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