I remember to this day the time when my parents forgot about me. I believe I was in the 3rd or 4th grade so probably 8 or 9 years old. I had decided that I wanted to be part of student council. Student council serves to engage students about learning about democracy. I chose to run for Student Council Treasurer. I chose this position because it was usually upperclassmen that took the positions of President and Vice President and I was too young to run for those positions. I didn’t want to run for Secretary because that sounded like the typical “girl” role and too easy.
I made campaign posters at home and then hung them all around the school. I can’t remember what my slogan was but I do remember winning votes by telling the school I’d petition to have chocolate milk as a drink option at lunch. I didn’t even like milk then because I thought it was cow pee. I campaigned for a couple of weeks leading up to the school election and then on the morning of election day, I delivered a speech in front of the whole school to explain why I was the best candidate for the position. Students casted their votes that afternoon and the following morning the winners were announced. Each morning at school a student would recite the Pledge of Allegiance in the principal’s office, the sound would be piped into all of the classrooms over speakers. After the Pledge of Allegiance came school news and on this day they announced the winning candidates, I was one of them. I couldn’t believe it! I was elated, I had no idea what the heck a treasurer did but I was happy that I had mustered up the courage to just go for it. Anyway, my parents forgot to pick me after school after the first student council meeting. The front office was closed. There were no cell phones. My home was miles from school and my school was located in a rural area. It sucked!
Elementary school, such a long time ago. When I look at 8 year olds now I think how young they look, almost like babies. I remember being that age and feeling so “grown up”. You’d think that at that age we’d still be unspoiled enough to not care about others’ opinions of what was acceptable or not acceptable. I remember at that age I was already worried about fitting in. Each Tuesday from fall until spring I’d go to catechism right after school for 2 hours. There was a whole group of us that would attend together. Our parents took turns picking us up from school and dropping us off at church. There were a total of 7 of us attending each week. Me and my 2 sisters, my 2 cousins and 2 neighbor children we were friends with. For pick up from school to be taken to church it was always either my Aunt Mary or the neighbor doing so. I dreaded the weeks when it was my aunt’s turn to carpool because she drove a very long, very ugly brown station wagon and we were embarrassed to be seen picked up in it. On the weeks it was her turn to pick us up we’d all wait together in front of the school amongst the chaos of all the other kids being picked up or going to wait in lines for the bus. We could see the Ghostbuster wagon (not nearly as cool) coming from a mile away and we’d all be ready to jump in quickly and duck down to avoid being seen by our peers. It’s so silly now but I remember thinking mini vans were so much cooler.
Even if I was being picked up in the the Ghostbuster car, it was a gift and I should have been grateful. Times have changed so much. There is no way that with my job today that I could commit myself to carpool children every other week. It’s sad. We’ve lost sight of what’s important. My response seems too often is that I can’t miss work because of (enter whatever excuse here).
Stress weighs heavily but somehow just seems normal. My cell phone never seems to stop ringing or pinging from work emails, texts or phone calls. I can’t escape it. I sat in a meeting earlier this week and a new agent asked advice about how to juggle career and his family. The response he was given was to make an appointment in his calendar for his wife and children. I quickly chimed in and advised him to not let his wife know that she needed to make an appointment to spend time with him.
I wonder if life was easier than back then, when there were less rules, when we’d pile in the back of my dad’s pick up truck and drive home without wearing seatbelts, when the cartoons like Tom and Jerry were sometimes violent and the characters occasionally smoked, the days when we had to venture outside of the house for fun. We’d ride bikes until the sun went down, we’d play baseball with the other neighborhood kids (a mix of both boys and girls) in an empty lot in the middle of the desert. We had makeshift bases, 1 bat and we had to share gloves because not everyone owned their own. There were never any trophies given but the memories we have are priceless.
I don’t remember any bullying but I do remember when Isaac Bolivar accidentally shot me in the gut with a BB gun from across the ditch and I survived. There were no hurt feelings after the initial “WTF Jackass?!” that crossed my mind. Just kidding, I don’t think I cursed, I was like 10.
If I could go back and give that little girl advice I’d tell her to not be in a rush to grow up, don’t be afraid to follow your path. Have the courage to be different. Don’t give any thought to the girl who told you that you had bug eyes at Lupita’s birthday party because you’ll learn to love them. Even though you feared Mrs. Craw and Mrs. Stith, listen to them because you will remember the lessons they taught you when you’re an adult. You have the perseverance part down. Keep at that because in order to achieve what you desire you have to be willing to work for it. There is no silver spoon waiting for you but you were born with something even more valuable than that. You were given the gift of intelligence. Believe in yourself.