It's Sunday, not a calm one, a blustery one. The kind where the cool winds bite your cheeks instead of kiss them. The evidence is the ruddy nose that threatens to run, but I wouldn't know that right now as I have been obsessing over a pair of dispossessed shoes that are twirling in the wind, suspended in the air and performing a sort of dance. All of a sudden it's a story, the unknown kind, the best kind. Some little boys shoes wound up being tossed up there, put out of reach but just dancing in the wind. Perhaps they were always there and I just noticed them as a sort of trophy of the conquered. The asphalt is full of underdog and bully stories. Sometimes we forget how violent children can be. Those first battles in life where you learn to stand and not be afraid, even if it means you might lose the battle. For many, it's the story of the internal mob. For others, being the adored. But the vast audience of the group seem to be controlled by a desire to be unnoticed. There is a fear in being noticed, a greater fear of standing outside of the crowd. The enormous fear of not belonging to anyone.
The goal was to be liked for many and there were so many who just absolutely hated school for a very good reason, the pecking order. Popularity meant a lot to kids when I was growing up, but then again, it depended on what neighborhood you were in. Not every child has had to fight, not every child has been laughed at, but many do the laughing. Children have a way of finding ways to pick at each other as they grow older, have you ever noticed that most people will say their favorite class was kindergarten? The younger children were sheltered, isolated from the older population of children. They arrived and departed before the others, had songs, arts, ABCs, 123s, and the ever popular nap time and snacks. That is the first year, where you learned to control your bowels and say "please" and "thank you". Everyone was beautiful and you never grew up.
You never hear about a horrible Kindergarten teacher. The memories are usually warm, and then comes first grade, where you are released into the general population of your primary school. You marvel at your new classmates, the halls, the bigger kids and there are new expectations placed upon you. I was tested for advanced placement when I was very young because I could read like the wind, the only problem was I couldn't understand what I was reading. The words were just words and held no real meaning for me. My transition into the first grade was a little rough, because they had placed me in a classroom with much older children. I was small, so I could barely fit into their big desks, and I was wondering (and so was the rest of the class) what I was doing there. All I had done was figure out the cipher of our script and was able to read aloud anything I touched, it seemed strange to me that this should be perceived as any sort of superior talent. I hadn't really 'learned' anything. I was a functioning parrot at the age of six, and wanted to be more than a parrot.
I looked around the classroom rather alarmed. Either I hadn't grown enough over the summer, or I was in the wrong classroom. How could that be? I reported to where the card told me to go, even the teacher was besides herself. The adults muttered amongst themselves about my presence in the class, and I remember being hustled into the library for about a week where I was given a series of tests, reading evaluations and the like. One week in a library going through their entire SRA reader series. I think I was asked if I would like to stay with the big kids or join my first grade class, I elected to join the first graders. I recall that I had a lot of fun with them, but I sometimes wonder what could have been if I stayed with the giants. They had given me the choice and I had opted for the safety of the small ones.
The shoes are still dangling on the power line. I can hear the screams of children playing in the park, hopefully not tormenting each other. Fall has come and already the sun is setting on this Sunday. It's a very good thing we remember laughter more than tears and still look for faces in the clouds.