Being a queen is fun most of the time, unless there is also a queen of the “in” group who holds higher rank. We’ll call her Marissa. Marissa always had the coolest clothes, the best bangs, and all the boy’s attention. I am not sure why Marissa didn’t like me. I don’t know how we both got to be queens of different worlds. In second grade Marissa and three of her followers all linked arms together and kicked me in the butt singing a “we-hate-Beckie song.” I cried all the way home.
My faith was pretty non-existent. I learned about the Bible in school but it seemed like a far-off story with a bad ending. I remember learning about Jesus but just that he was the Son of God and came to the earth. I could never keep the Saints separate in my head, all the recited prayers got jumbled in my brain. I remember being chastised by my teacher for twirling my rosary around during prayer time. I was told I was being “dishonoring.” I hated going to mass. The standing, sitting, kneeling routine I had to go through became monotonous. Since we were members of the church we had to “give” a certain amount to the church each year. I remember by mom saying we had to go to church so we could put the envelopes in. So we would put our Sunday best on and discreetly try and make 15 envelopes look like 1 in the offering plate. Growing up Catholic was something I was. It was like being a red-head, or being Irish, or being Caucasian. I was Catholic.
I enjoyed being at home and growing up in the neighborhood we lived in. I was the oldest in our court and loved the title of the boss. We used to play “kick the can” or kickball, Mother-May-I?, or Red Light, Green Light. Of course we always played by my rules. If we played school I was the teacher. I was loved fishing in the pond nearby, riding my bike no-handed, or making snow forts in the Chicago winter snow.
School was okay. I cycled through BFF’s as often as I changed my underwear. One week Jen Jen was my bestie, the next it was Amanda, and the next Jill. I felt confident in my athleticism and was involved in softball, basketball, and volleyball. I liked being girly but I could hang with the boys in the dirt as well. Boys don’t really care who is queen of what when they pick their teams for a game of kick ball. I always got picked first except for the occasional “boyfriend” of Marissa who would pick her. Boys were playmates to me not boyfriends. EWWWWWW! I guess I was a late bloomer. I thought boys still had cooties until about middle school.
When we got a new student I was always the first to introduce myself and make her feel welcome. We would become friends until she realized there was a greater queen in the class. Then I was tossed to the side. I tried to be nice to everyone even Marissa, although my sister would disagree. Pedes was just easy to pick on I guess.
Then we started fifth grade. The cool part about being a fifth grader was that we no longer had to wear the jumper part of the uniform. We now got just a skirt. It was the same awful pattern but I felt like I graduated, I was older. Somewhere along the way Amanda, one of my besties decided that the “in” group was more appealing. So in order to show her allegiance to the “in” group she started a horrible rumor about me that changed my life forever. Mean girls enter stage left…