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Fateful First Grade Day

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Most people would say I’m the nice girl, who would never, ever, in a million years do anything wrong. But in first grade, I was not exactly the most angelic or even the quietest child. Perhaps it was this day, which turned me from the talkative girl I was, to the reserved person I am today….
“Okay class, time for lunch! Emma, Lindsay it’s your job to take the lunch-box bucket out to the playground.” Mrs. Aitken-Nobles called in the firm but sweet voice all elementary teachers use.
I turned to my friend Lindsay and said excitedly, “C’mon hurry let’s go!” Lindsay was blonde haired and blue eyed with a sweet smile that everyone adored as well as the beautiful house and model looking family that I wished I could have. We dashed quick as can be to our cubbies, threw our coats on, grabbed the big blue bucket and ran out the door. The lunch-box bucket was heavy and both of us could probably fit in it but we didn’t care. Everyone loved being given the responsibility of bringing the bucket out to the appropriate spot on the playground. It gave us a sense of control and power that few six year olds feel in their daily life.
It was a beautiful day outside. The sky was blue, with little puffs of clouds in the air and children ran carelessly all around us. The chatter of hundreds of children surrounded me but all I heard was Lindsay talking about what her mother packed her for lunch. I wish I could have cold lunch I thought longingly. Suddenly along came Marilyn. She was short, with cropped brown hair and dark brown eyes to match the dark, snotty attitude she always seemed to wear.
“I’m putting my lunch box in the bucket now.” Marilyn said as she tried to toss her lunch box in the bucket.
“You’re supposed to wait until we put it down in our line up spot, Marilyn.” Lindsay said pleasantly, although annoyed.
“Well I don’t care. Just let me put it in now.”
“Why don’t you just wait ok? Jeez…” I said then rolled my eyes in Lindsay’s direction.
“No!” Marilyn said with an evil squeal, then through her lunch box in the bucket before anyone could stop her.
“She is such a brat face.” Lindsay said and I nodded in agreement.
It was quiet for a moment, until we looked at each with glee in our eyes. We would show her.
As we put the bucket down I said, “OK, is the coast clear?” Lindsay looked around and nodded. I grabbed the lunch box and off we ran.
“Where should we hide it?” I asked exhilarated and out of breath.
“Uh I don’t know….” We looked all around, afraid our plan would fail in its crucial moment until Lindsay said, “There!” I turned my head and saw where she was pointing: behind the big rock at the edge of the playground. We ran giggling toward the rock and threw it where it couldn’t be seen. We laughed, high fived each other and ran off to enjoy our recess.
Everything seemed fine for a while. Then the lunch bell rang. Time for all us kids to line up and grab our lunch boxes if we had them. Marilyn sure doesn’t I thought. As I stood in line, bored and impatient waiting for lunch, I realized that the commotion that was holding up our recession to lunch, was Marilyn. She was crying, blubbering over and over that her lunch was gone. Uh oh I thought. All of a sudden a teacher called my name.
“Emma, Lindsay? Would you come here please?” I gulped. I had definitely never stolen anything before. Actually, I had never gotten in trouble for anything besides talking to much before!
“Do either of you know where Marilyn’s lunch is? She says she put it in the bucket, where all the other lunch boxes go. You two were carrying the bucket yes?” the teacher said. Lindsay and I were silent.
“Girls? Did you take her lunchbox?”
Busted I thought. Lindsay and I looked at each other, like soldiers about to march into a fatal battle, turned to the teacher and nodded.
“Where is it?’
“Behind the rock” I whimpered and pointed nervously
The teacher sighed, nodded knowingly and said, “After lunch, you both go to straight to Principal Johnson’s office. Straight there, no recess.” She shook her head and then went over to Marilyn and told her the news. Of course, neither Lindsay nor I could enjoy lunch, knowing what was coming. What will happen? Will they suspend me? Lock me in the choky like Matilda? As I walked toward my principal’s office, eyes never looking up, my heart nearly stopped when I thought, what will my dad say?!
I walked into my principal’s office and sat in a chair next to Lindsay, trembling.
“Ok girls,” he said. “First of all, do you want to tell me what happened at recess today?’
We told him all about Marilyn and how rude she was, hoping that he would nod his head and agree that yes, Marilyn deserved that, I’ll send her here at once and you two continue your recess. Instead he nodded his head slowly, leaned forward in his chair and said, “I understand that she made you angry. But you should not treat her badly just because she did that to you. How would you have felt, if her lunchbox had been broken? Or if she had gone hungry at lunch today? You two are nice girls right? You wouldn’t want anyone to starve no matter how bratty they bothered you, right?”
It suddenly sank in. I didn’t get revenge, not really. Marilyn was mean yes, but the last thing I ever wanted to be, was her. I nodded and said to my principal, “I’m sorry.” Lindsay agreed. The principal nodded, smiled, Yes! I thought we are going to make it out of this free! Then he said, “That’s what I thought. Now, all I need you to do is write a letter of apology to Marilyn, just like you said it to me”. Then ever so slowly, he put two blank pieces of paper in front of us. With that, Lindsay and I looked at each other and groaned inwardly. It seemed that girls like Marilyn always win, one way or another.



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