The Nose Runner

November 26, 2011
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There were two types of kids in preschool, the Goodies and the Nose Runners. The Nose Runners were the children who glumly brought carrots and celery for snack; they had wild, tangled hair and cried during nap time. They brought their old worn blankets to school and their slimy fingers fumbled with their shoelaces. The Goodies were the type of kids that, well, had everything good, from Animal Crackers to shiny, pretty hair. They were the ones with the new toys, light up shoes and colorful barrettes. The Goodies ruled the playground. I was in the middle of these two groups, never really one or the other. All I knew is that I didn’t want to be known as a Nose Runner.

We all sat down at circle time on the first day, examining the toy lined walls and colorful fabric of the rug beneath our legs. Once we had looked over the room and each other, our fidgeting hands made their way to our faces to examine and stretch our baby soft cheeks in odd ways. Then the voice of a lady grabbed my attention. She was neither mother nor stranger, yet a strange mix of both. She was teacher. Her voice was smooth and comforting like a mother’s and yet I knew nothing about her. Her hair fell in waves to her shoulders and her eyes were bright and soft. A name floated into my head: Mrs. Jones. Later into her chatter another word registered: recess. I had only heard of this legend but to me it was synonymous with fun and play. We all scrambled up like a herd and ran to the door.

As our feet hit the pavement and the sun slanted painfully into our unadjusted eyes, a masterpiece unfolded before us. Many jungle gyms were scattered about the grounds with a giant one in the center, complete with the tallest curly slide I had ever seen. We all ran to the huge play set only to be confronted by the older kids who knew how things worked around here. “No! No! Not this one. This one’s for big kids.” Some kids went off to play with something else, others cried, but a few other kids and I tried climbing up anyway until we were wrenched from the sides and knocked to the ground. “Tweet! tweet!” blew a whistle and another mother like stranger came over. A teacher I remembered. Wary that I had broken the rules, I backed away, but she wasn’t there to lecture me. “Children, play nice and remember to share,” she said, looking at the older kids. “There’s room for everyone.” After that the kids let us on though rather indignantly; but nevertheless, battle won, we crowed from the top of the play set.

As the year progressed more and more of these battles took place. Although now they were centered in my own class and the older kids didn’t bother us. The Goodies and the Nose Runners began to separate and mobilize. Each day at recess, groups would take over certain playground equipment and guard them from the others. Alliances were made and broken while the battles raged on without ceasing.
One day I made friends with a Goody named Jenna. She was a loud, pretty girl who also happened to have a good snack that she had promised to share. We were friends that day and enemies the next but were always friends in the end. On a day in early fall, a day that is perfect for recess with a bright blue sky and a gentle wind, I saw Jenna perched atop the giant play set. “Let me on!” I yelled up to Jenna. “No” she simply replied.

“Huh? Let me on, Jenna,” I said, my smile fading now.


“Why not?”

“Because I said NO!”

I eyed her, sucked in my breath and said triumphantly, “Let me on, Jenna or, or you’re not invited to my birthday party!” She looked mad but said “I don’t care.” I stood there defeated. Why was she doing this? It wasn’t like I was a Nose Runner! No, certainly not! finally I climbed up anyway.

“Hey ,what are you doing, you’re not allowed! Alert! Alert!”

“I just want to use the slide, Jenna,” I offered as calmly as was possible.

“Alert! Alert!”

I walked over and sat on the slide. Since no one was apparently responding to her “alerts”, she came over prepared to take this into her own hands. I don’t know what I expected her to do but what she did surprised me even more. She quickly sat down next to me and when I went down the slide she did too. Sharing slide travel was forbidden by the teachers but it was a way for kids to show their affection for one another. Jenna had lost her marbles I decided. If this was her way of punishing me for trespassing then it wasn’t such a problem, in fact it was kind of fun, until we rounded the curve. As we rounded the curve, usually the pinnacle of fun, Jenna got her revenge and shoved me hard. As I flew over the edge of the slide I could see the concrete rushing toward my face and then, blackness. A few seconds later I stood up and felt pain on my eye so bad I knew I would start to cry soon. There was a teacher nearby and I didn’t want her to see me so I backed up behind the slide holding my eye. I can’t cry! Only Nose Runners cry! I thought in alarm. But the teacher had seen the black bruise spreading over my face and rushed over. As soon as she got there my tears burst forth and my nose began to run.

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