1, 2, 3 NOT IT!

March 17, 2012
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One day when I was four years old, my eagerness for a new day of preschool was quickly shot down when the first thing I heard my best buddy, Eva, say to me was that we were no longer friends. There was no rhyme or reason. I hadn’t stolen any of her animal crackers the previous day…so what was it that I did wrong? At the time I wasn’t really curious as to what I had done to deserve Eva’s morning anger towards me. All I knew is that I wanted to be just like her (as I always had wanted). So about a split second later after her proclamation to me, and then her departure from the sandbox, I turned to another girl in my class (let’s call her Jennifer) and delivered to her the exact same words as I had just been told, “Jennifer, you’re not my friend anymore.”

Even though this happened about 12 years ago, it’s still a memory that has been embedded inside of my brain ever since. I don’t remember much after that, only the fact that preschoolers forget easily, so two hours later I was probably Eva’s “pal” once again and continued to remain the “Number 2” in the relationship. The pet. I always felt this constant need to be exactly like Eva, and now as I look back on it I don’t know why I did. Whether it was because I thought her look belonged in a Toys R Us commercial, or because she was about a year older than me, I think it was mainly that I was somehow inspired by her bossing me around. I wanted to learn how to do that, to make eyes fall on me and be followed by other girls as if it were an extended version of "Following the Leader" that lasted for two years.

In those games like "Following the Leader," "Tag," and "Hide and Go Seek," everyone wants to be “It” at least once. Although the object of the game is to avoid becoming “It,” no game ends suddenly without everyone trying to been named “It” at least once throughout its entirety. When someone's job is to chase everyone else, all of the attention is focused on “It”....and, frankly, it’s an immense feeling of power. You are God when you are “It.” The other players’ moves are in coordination with every movement of the leader and it’s a feeling that possesses a deep craving to last long. One wants to remain the center of attention for a good chunk of time before he or she passes the position of “It” along to someone else, fair and square. And in preschool, I always longed to be named “It”…”The Leader…” so that I could experience that rush of joy and excitement from getting the attention of my classmates. I’m a person too, I should get a say in things just as anybody else, right? But in the meantime, I happily remained the determined "Follower” of Eva.

I guess I could've be seen as “The Copy-Cat,” saying the same things Eva said, ate the same food, trying to pretend I was older than I really was….anything she did, I did. And I kept on learning what it took to be the typical type of “It.”

But, there came a day in the dress-up room where all of the girls and I decided to play “House,” and of course, everyone wanted to be “The Mommy”...including me. Each girl blurted in their own solutions in order to reach the best way for everyone to be the mom, as I tried to squeeze mine in (which was to have two girls to double role the mother): rock-paper-scissors, whoever’s the tallest, multiple houses that had multiple moms. Each one interrupted my suggestion like I was never in the room....why does this always happen to me? I try to speak and they just never listen.....

Before I knew it, my voice was screaming out my idea in order for them to shut up and listen, which silenced the whole room. I got into trouble with my teacher, who gave me a heated talk about how it was inappropriate of me to raise my voice for such a small, insignificant event taking place. While she was telling me how I would not be able to play in the dress-up room again that day because of my angry outburst, I barely listened. I came to the realization that, I would never become “The Leader” or “It” in life if I used Eva’s methods of getting attention, which were sneaky and quietly obnoxious. One, I was not good at it, seeing as I got into trouble for losing my head over a game of “House.” And two, Eva’s methods of using people, like me, as pets didn’t give anyone the things that matter most.

After I told Jennifer that I was not her friend anymore because of Eva telling me she wasn’t my friend anymore, I expected Jennifer to feel hurt and then repeat my same action, but she merely shrugged and walked away....she didn’t even care. And with good reason. I wouldn’t be a “Leader” worth following if all I was was just an obnoxious wannabe. Now I know I would have done the same thing if I were Jennifer, and it's what I should have done right in front of Eva’s face after she broke me at the sandbox.





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