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I’ve Always Loved the Underdog

1 Comment 09 June 2010

(picture changed to protect the guilty ;) )

Not actual Middle School - Changed to protect the guilty 😉

I mentioned that I just returned from a trip to my hometown and on this trip I showed my daughter around to the various places that I lived.  In all of my driving around, to view the multiple houses that I lived in, there were several memories from my early years that were triggered.  Some were funny and some were crazy and some were better left alone.  But it is good to remember and to put pieces together, to think through our story and who we are and from where we have come.

I was reminded of a particular story as my daughter and I drove past my old Middle School.  The school has a main building which housed the seventh and eighth grade halls and the fifth and sixth grade halls were separate with long walkways leading to the main building.  I remember my first year there, my fifth grade year, and how brutal it was for me.  I was painfully insecure and most of my friends were beginning to mature and I could have easily been mistaken for a boy.  I also remember being mistreated badly by a particular group of boys.  When we lined-up to walk from the fifth grade hall into the main building for lunch, library or gym the abuse seemed particularly intense.  That walk, from our building to the main building was eternal.

When I was in high school, probably around tenth grade, several friends and I were out drinking and we were in the habit of defacing public property.  It had become a pastime of ours and we had grown fond of overpasses, public buildings, and signs.  This particular night we had several cans of spray paint and we found ourselves in the parking lot of our beloved Middle School.  I, having such fond memories of that walk from the fifth grade hall, wanted to do something that would encourage the lowly fifth graders.  So, royal blue spray paint in hand, I proceeded to the walkway.

We then agreed upon the phrase “GO 5TH GRADE” and diligently painted it on the brick wall that lead from the fifth grade into the main building. It was about five feet tall and I was incredibly proud of my art work.  I had a tremendous sense that this would buoy the lagging spirit of some fifth grade little girl who was being bullied by some jackass boy the next fall as she walked from the 5th grade hall to library.  I felt that this would give her the spirit to kick him in the balls or tell him to kiss her ass.

I doubt it did and within minutes I was terrified that I would be arrested for defaming federal property.  Of course I got over it. (After I went back and got the paint can lid with my prints on it!)

I told my daughter the story and she giggled.  She also thought I was crazy.  It makes my throat tight to think about that little girl in fifth grade that was me.  I want to fight for her still today.  I am grateful that my daughter did not have that kind of fifth grade, but I know she will have other kinds of injustices to deal with in her lifetime.  My youngest daughter is the perpetual underdog, but she is oblivious to it.  I am not.  Those walks to the main building made me a fighter.  They made me love the underdog.  They made me scream, “GO FIFTH GRADE!”

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1 comment

  1. amy says:

    i had a similar experience throughout elementary school. it does shape us, doesn’t it? and it does make me want to fight more for those who can’t fight for themselves. it makes me stop and think when my kids face adversity. it makes me wonder what they are being shaped for…because they are being shaped. no way i would be who i am today without those years of merciless teasing. thanks for sharing.

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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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