I think most children are very self-conscious in their elementary years. I was; I wanted to fit in. In 4th grade, I was “the new girl” in Akron, Colorado. Getting ready for the school year meant the usual: a new tablet, new crayons, some #2 pencils, and a spiral notebook for spelling. Also needed was a pair of tennis shoes so we didn’t mark up the gym floor upstairs in Akron Grade School. Mom and Dad were very thrifty, always saving some money but there was none for the extras needed for their six children. We never went hungry but we ate a lot of homemade soup. There was no money to splurge on the 2nd pair of shoes. However, I had a brother in 2nd grade whose feet were about the same size as mine.
Mom shopped in a neighboring town, Sterling, and got the wrong size spiral notebook. Every day, we’d hand in our spelling notebooks, and every day, there sat mine, right on top, a reminder that my spiral notebook was the wrong size … total embarrassment!
The shoes were another matter. There was no extra money in our household for two additional pairs of shoes. My 2nd-grade brother and I had to share. But here I lucked out. Another girl in my class had to “share a pair” of tennies with her 2nd-grade sister who was in Steve’s class. Twice a week, the P.E. teacher came from the high school to have gym class at the elementary level. Twice a week, Steve and his classmate left their classroom, entered our classroom, went to the cloakroom, picked up the tennies found hanging on the hook, and leave, quietly. At the end of their gym period, they would return, shoes in hand, hang them in the cloakroom, and within a half-hour or so, my 4th-grade classmate and I would slip our feet into the sweaty shoes, line up, and head to the gym. Nobody ever said anything but they all knew. That was 4th grade. Maybe the other girl was as grateful as I was, to not be the only one who had to share my tennies with a sibling.
Dr J’s Comments
A sweet little short story from a former contributor. A great example of all the stories we have to tell.