Sunday, October 4, 2015

Note to Fifth Grade Self

(names omitted for confidentiality)

In the morning when you go to school, always practice four-square. If you don't, they WILL get you out, and you won't be happy.  Remember the four-square rules. Don’t double bounce, don’t optional. There are four squares, as the name suggests. A, B, C, and D. In the morning, the other fifth graders will still be playing four-square, screaming loud pirate sounds until your eardrums pop. They'll scream Meers-Meat until their lungs come out and till you can't take it anymore. It doesn't matter. Don't start a conversation with another kid. You need to focus and zero-in on the game. Get all the practice you can until lunch. Lunch is execution for those who aren't prepared. Make your way to D square. That square is a slaughterhouse. The smaller kids are the cows and the bigger ones are the farmers. Do whatever you can to stay alive, but most importantly, pay attention. Don't listen to the other kids. Just listen to your breathing and focus. Ignore the reeking smell of sweat on the older kids. Try to get a few hits on the ball, maybe even get someone out, although you will probably regret it later in the day, as they will get their revenge. As long as you are capable to live until recess, you won't be massacred along with many other of the smaller kids. BAM! Of course, you are on the ground with scrapes all over your bloody hands and knees. Get up, don't bother crying or whining, it will get you no where. Just walk towards the bathroom and wipe off the blood. It will hurt, like touching a searing hot pan on a stove. Its time for class, and Bob, one of the best four-square players runs up to you and checks if you are ok. You say yes, but really, you aren't. You trust Bob, and befriend him, and the feeling is mutual. Bob is a good kid, and is extremely nice, but during the game, Bob will do anything to help his buddy David, and David loves to get the lower squares and “puny weaklings” out. There is No Mercy in the game of four-square.

A few classes pass, many hours of thinking about four-square, and it is finally Recess. Recess is dangerous, it is the preliminaries for a major tournament during lunch. Anyone who stays in during Recess will have a better chance in lunch, and may not be obliterated by other kids. You are not of those kids. You need to try as hard as you can just to be CLOSE to be one of those kids. You will enter D square, and try your best. Salty sweat will drip down your forehead. Stare at the ball, don’t let it sneak up on you. The ball bounces past your head, and you get out. Looking back, you should have done something else during recess, instead of waiting in line. Of course, you wait. You wait and wait and it seems like days, but really only fifteen minutes, until you get to the front of the line but the whistle blows, and all you can do is sigh, hide your frustrated tears all the way from the time you got out, and go to your next class.

It is finally lunch, the sun shining onto your shoulders and head, your lunch a gooey mess. You knock over your drink by accident, and think to yourself, what a bad day… You eat your lunch, ignoring the looks, but savoring the excellent taste. Then, you get in line to play four-square. This time, it is the real deal. Finally, you get into D square. You slam the ball when it is served to you, the wounds stinging. The sun shines on your glasses, blinding you, but by instinct, you hit the ball, getting David, the tall giant whose head covered the sun and eyes like daggers, out. Of course, he is in A square, with so much power in the fifth grade class he calls a redo. He calls you names as he gets you out, and you hear the dreaded word, “Scrub”. By then, the dam will break. Tears flow down your cheeks and you run away. You don’t speak to anyone the entire day, and that night, you pledge that you will suck it up and not care anymore...

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