May 24 2009

storytime: first grade girl friendships

Published by at 11:21 pm under amy's head

I have a couple of really distinct memories from my very young girlhood. I lived in Colorado until I was 8, but we moved to washington state before I was nine. I don’t remember much of 2nd grade, but 1st grade is vivid and In Color!

I remember how hot it was in Colorado. When my parents told us we were moving to Washington, and they mentioned it had a lot of trees.. I remember I was glad about that because there would be a lot of shade. You know, shade is a good thing when it’s always hot out.

My very best friend in the world was Tina. she lived in the neighborhood one over from us. My house was in the middle of an acre of alfalfa, which, just for your knowledge, is like, one of the best things for a kid to play in. When it’s been growing all summer and is really long, you can pick it and lay it down in a bed and lay down and no one can see you. You can play in it like a fort. When it’s short, lots of those little prickly weeds with stickers on them (heretofore called, as we always called them, “sticker bushes”) grew everywhere, so as to provide kids who always ran around barefoot with Feet With Skin Like Elephant Leather. We used to run races barefoot, to see who could go over all the sticker bushes the fastest. I won often, and still have Feet With Many Callouses.

Anyway, back to Tina. To get to her house, I had to cross the field of alphalfa, go over a little footbridge over a creek/crick/running trickle of water, go through her neighborhood to her house. We named all these little places, but the only one I can remember now was we called the field we must cross to get to each other’s house, “Rattlesnake Country”.

Tina and I were the very best of friends. We went to kindergarten together to a school far away from our house, and the teacher was old and crotchety. I remember she would point to the inside of our wrists, and tell us that right now, that spot with the blue veins was weak and gooey. And we had to color VERY hard with our crayons to make the inside of our wrists strong and un-gooey. I remember hating her a little bit for that. However, her teacher’s assistant was the loveliest young lady named Ms. Pakorney. And just in time for us to enter first grade, a NEW school was finished being built, and it was just a hop skip and a jump away from Tina’s house, and thus, we could walk to school. And LO AND BEHOLD… Ms. Pakorney was our first grade teacher.

First grade was exciting, especially with Ms. Pakorney who did lovely things like read us Ramona the Pest, and never ever told us our wrists were filled with goo and that we mustn’t leave ANY WHITE SPACE when we colored or the goo would never go away.. Basically, first grade at our new school was heaven.

First grade was also when I remember really “getting” this reading thing. I remember being in the car and looking around and realizing, “Hey, I can totally read all this stuff around me.” I read Charlotte’s Web and was tickled to DEATH that I was so grown up that I could read a CHAPTER BOOK.

I remember that our class split up for reading groups, and I was in the highest group. It was me, and another girl, and a boy. And we got to name our reading group. And even though me and the other girl had all sorts of LOVELY names picked out, names like, the UNICORNS or the RAINBOWS or the RAINBOW UNICORNS… this boy must have been very cute and charming because he convinced us to name our reading group THE STEELERS. (I still root for the steelers whenever they happen to be on and I happen to be in the same room.)

Tina and I were in the same class and we both became good friends with lots of kids in the class, but especially a girl named Christine. I remember thinking that we were JUST LIKE SISTERS because her name was CHRISTINE and my MIDDLE name was CHRISTINA. I adored her long blonde almost-white hair, and thought that maybe if I scrubbed hard enough when I shampooed, MY hair would maybe turn that lovely white-blonde color too. The three of us played together all the time, but of course Tina and I stayed best friends, because we still lived close and walked home together and spent every possible moment on the weekends together.

Until one day, Tina asked her mom if she could have Christine and I over to her house friday and STAY OVERNIGHT! Oh the excitement! Oh the giddiness! OH MY GOD THE ANTICIPATION!

The three of us planned and plotted and giggled and squirmed with delight. Christine had a special note from her parents allowing her to walk home with us to Tina’s house. Friday morning we were keyed up to, I’m sure, a frenzy state of excitement. Until Friday afternoon, when Tina and Christine decided they wanted to have a sleepover BY THEMSELVES. WITHOUT ME. I am fairly certain it was because of the planning. I had wanted X, while both of them wanted Y, and there was a fight, and in the end, they decided they did not want me over. It was the epitome of Girl Drama, which basically is Girls Playing At Being Women kind of drama. It did not blow over, and I remember some vague turning of their backs to me and marching off to plan THEIR sleepover, type of behaviour, and I was simply crushed.

The fight and the decision to not include me, I don’t really remember that well. It was the aftermath that I remember vividly. I remember the sting of that pain. I remember crying my little heart out at home, after school, walking around my house, wandering out into the alfalfa, curling up and letting the tears roll down my face – knowing that right then, AT THAT MOMENT, Tina and Christine were doing all those things that we had planned to do together. I remember feeling so hurt that Tina would choose to side with Christine over me, choose to have Christine over AND NOT ME. I’m sure I wasn’t too pleased with Christine either, but the pangs of Tina’s rejection hurt the most, and also, the pangs of JEALOUSY. I was SO jealous of Christine, with her long blonde hair. Tina had chosen HER instead of ME.

A few days later, Monday rolled around, and the two of them quickly made up with me and I remember that feeling of surprise, that the pain that had hurt me so badly, that the event that had made me feel SO HORRIBLE, could clear up so quickly. They told me about their sleepover adventures and wished that I had been there and that NEXT TIME, would be even MORE fun.

I don’t feel any pain in this memory now, of course, but when I do think about it, I like to pick it apart in my head. It was definitely the first time I felt betrayed by a good friend, and I am sure that Tina was just as enamored with Christine as I was. New, exciting, and of course, let’s not forget that beautiful long blonde hair.

I look at my kids and wonder what they will remember from this time. I know Ethan has already experienced the rocky stab from friends not necessarily choosing his way of doing things, and has already built up some defenses. Jocelyn is still too young for everything to not be huge and dramatic.. If her friend can’t come out and play because she has to eat dinner, it will be the end of the world for Jocelyn..

..but then, I remember it that whole experience being the end of the world for me, so maybe I was “too young” too.

I’ve got another DOOZIE of a memory, that I’m going to save for another time.


One response so far

One Response to “storytime: first grade girl friendships”

  1. Lindaon 29 May 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I love this blog entry! I’m so happy you posted it. Alfalfa, childhood memories, bloggage bloggage bloggage…. so lovely. I know you have mentioned this best friend before. And one can totally picture the long blonde hair on that girl. Wow.