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A third grader’s playground story

July 17, 2016

July 17, 2016 @1608

My third grade classGirls  played “horses” at recess or kicked the boys in the shins with the toes of their leather shoes.  I wanted nothing to do with them either way, but they often found some way to trick me into chasing.  I’d catch one and get kicked.  And cry.  One day the scab on my shin came loose and I bled down into my sock.  Recess was horrible.  What good were girls anyway?  Why did they always want to play horses?

The boys weren’t any better.  The choice there was to play marbles in the snow and mud puddles until you lost all of your brother’s marbles or play baseball and get yelled at.  My nickname was “strikeout” because I couldn’t seem to hit the ball.

Bigger kids were willing to punch you out.  After my brother’s marbles were gone, that is.  I saw a big fat kid punch another in the face and wouldn’t quit even though the smaller kid begged for mercy.

Another time at the playground I saw a group of boys clustered in tight around another who had a Trojan prophylactic he was showing off.  I overheard the boy reading from the package, sounded like “one lubricated skin. . . .”  Didn’t make any sense.  Skin?  Didn’t know what was going on, but it had to be creepy.

Fifth graders were capable of unspeakable behavior.  I saw one sit on another boy’s chest and spit into his mouth while the smaller one squirmed.  We went crying to the boy’s mother, who wasn’t even horrified.  She only smiled.

I liked to stand by the building during recess where it was warm, close to the teacher for safety.  Ugly girls and stupid boys stood next to the building.  I once got into trouble for looking through the window into a classroom.  Mrs. Olson — Ruth Olson — said I made an ugly face.  I didn’t mind getting into trouble for looking through the window, but I cried at home because she said I had an ugly face.  Just like the girls who stood by the building.  The ones who didn’t play horses.

One time I was crossing from the building to the swing set when a big fifth-grader saw me and came after.  I ran away as fast as I could, through a group of girls playing horses.  Usually that strategy would be enough to lose a big predator, but after I cleared the group I looked behind me and. . .the big boy was still coming.  Fast.

I was scared.  I ran so fast I could feel heat coming from my upper thigh where it met my torso.  I sailed over mud puddles and over snow and settled into a fast run.  The big boy was still coming.  Relentless.

At last I looked up ahead and around.  By now I was starting to run parallel to the sidewalk on the north side and I was coming to the intersection of the sidewalk on the east side of the playground.  In other words, I was running into the corner and I didn’t know what I was going to do.  All kids were forbidden to leave the playground during school hours.

When I could run no farther, I stopped and turned to face my pursuer who was only about 50 feet from me and running toward me fast.

What could I do?  I fastened my gaze at the boy’s belt and ran right toward the fifth-grader as fast as I could, all the while wondering what I would do when we met.  I never did come up with a plan, so I ran right into the boy, dropping at the last moment so that I struck the big boy in the legs with my body.

The boy seemed to fly up over the top of me and I rolled a time or two in the slushy snow, then jumped up and ran with all my speed toward the school in the distance.

The bell signaling the end of recess rang just as I sprinted back across the paved section of playground and I cruised in the side door of the building.

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