|My 4th Grade Class|
I was an awkward little girl... who wasn't awkward, right? But there were those kids who were already full of seeming confidence among those of us who were timid and quiet. It could be that older siblings helped forge stronger personalities in some. I was an older sister, though just barely. I didn't have the advantage of older siblings to make me strong and toughen my hide. I was quiet, though I had friends. We were the kids who liked to read and sit in the field at recess picking small daisies, or playing hand ball when a court was empty.
It was actually in the 3rd grade that I met the boy who would unknowingly change me forever. He was one of those quiet kids, too, though his solitude seemed to be created by a self-made barrier of disdain. He was in my homeroom class and I was more aware of him than other boys because I had admired him. He didn't run wildly with other boys at recess, or make a lot of noise during class. I thought he was only shy like me. Then one day, when I had just walked past his desk on my way out to lunch, he stood up and made a face at me... he wrinkled up his nose and wiggled it, like Tabitha from "Bewitched". It stopped me cold. He had just mimicked my one facial tic that I wasn't even aware that I had, until that moment... it was like he had put a mirror in front of my face and I was frozen in front of it. From that point on, I was hyper-aware of what my face did, as much as I could be. I stopped wiggling my nose, out of sheer embarrassment. I also stopped biting my fingernails, though that was mostly through the efforts of my dad. This boy also pointing it out to me stiffened my resolve to stop this habit, too. In my mind, this boy was a bully. I was afraid of him and his sharp observations and avoided him completely after this. And then, some 30 years later, he sends me a friend request.
I want to point out that I didn't have him in any other classes after the 3rd grade. I had been put in a different school that one year because of admission mistakes at my own elementary school. The following years I went back to my old school with my other friends who had also gotten stuck at different schools in 3rd grade. So I didn't see him again until maybe around high school, when he came to our school briefly, and I never spoke to him. I didn't actually think that he'd know who I was anyway. I didn't bother to ask him.
It took me a couple minutes to decide to add him as a friend, mostly out of sheer curiosity. He immediately posted something on my wall. It was a heart-felt apology. He apparently remembered that he was a mean boy, and he wanted to apologize and to ask for forgiveness. That was all he wanted. To be forgiven. My eight-year-old self pondered this. My adult self did, too. In retrospect, he had done me a favor. Bad habits are hard to stop outside of childhood, and I had stopped two because of him. Yes, I was hurt and embarrassed by him, but when I remember it now, I don't recall other people even witnessing either exchange. He wasn't as malicious as he could have been, really. Certainly not nice, but not horrible, either. And he was asking for my forgiveness now. I accepted it. I hadn't really held onto any animosity towards him, after all. The memory had dimmed, and all I could tell you now is that I was shocked at finding out that anyone had noticed me at all, let alone noticed that I made funny faces. Yes, it hurts to be teased, but hadn't I done mean things to a kid or two by then? Maybe even something worse.... so who was I to hold back forgiveness? It was a relief to accept his apology. I felt a shift in my own concept of myself. My eight-year-old self smiled. My adult self did, too.
|Peace is a wonderful thing.|