It seems like just yesterday, she was a toddler--thoroughly happy in her own skin. She was oblivious to what other people thought about her body, how long she’s been at the local school, or her attitude. She liked to play dress up. The funniest movie she ever saw was Austin Powers. Although she didn’t understand the jokes, she understood the utter nonsense of it all. Why would she care about what other people said about her? It was good just to be four, nothing else mattered.
Fast forward six years. She is now in 4th grade now. She is excessively aware of her awkwardness. Her body is smaller than everyone else’s. Since she skipped a grade, it not only makes her younger, but also smarter than everyone in her class. She yearns to make friends in her new school. She is shy, but likes a good joke and loves hugs. Since relocating to the ‘pod city’, friendship is elusive. All the other kids are already ‘cliqued up’. The tight knit groups were formed in church youth groups and athletic leagues they attended since pre-school, you know, when she didn’t exist here. She feels as if she still does not exist here—like she’s invisible.
Her sister takes like a fish to water in the new environment. The gypsy lifestyle their mother has subjected them to does not seem to bother older sister. The adventure of new places and faces offers a chance to start over. But to AJ, the constant moving is an affront to her senses and her safety. She loathes it. She sees it as another opportunity to be the ‘new weird kid’. She swears that if her mother moves her again, she will go live with her father.
Aj’s only respite with this move is the fact that she is closer to her Grandparents. Her Grandmother is quickly becoming a safe harbor in the chaos of fourth grade. She sat in her last period class daydreaming.
“Thank God I get to go to Grandma’s house today.” AJ thought as a warm feeling washed over her and for a brief moment she could smell the chocolate chip cookies that would be waiting for her.
The bell rang dismissing school. Her Grandma was waiting for her by the school gate. AJ ran into her arms with tears in her eyes.
“What’s the matter?” her Grandmother inquired.
“Nothing.” She said bravely holding back the tears.
They walked along quietly; then came the question she had been dreading. “So, AJ, have you made any new friends at school?”
She sucked in her breath a minute while the question hung in the air. Suddenly, all the words tumbled out of her mouth in an animated almost comical torrent. “NO! NO! NO! I have not made any stinking friends in this stinking school.”
Her Grandma was somewhat amused at the outburst but she knew that underneath the comedy was a little girl’s hurting heart. They arrived at the house shortly after. AJ’s Grandmother was incredibly wise. She knew best cure for a little girl’s hurt feelings—warm cookies and milk.
AJ collapsed at the table and flopped her little head into her hands. Her Grandmother slipped a plate of cookies and a glass of milk in front of the defeated child. “Okay, spill it,” said her Grandmother. “Why do you think that you haven’t made any friends?”
“Well, I don’t know.” Said AJ.
“Really? Why not?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, well, I’m here if you want a shoulder to cry on.” Said her Grandmother patiently.”
Relieved to finally have someone to confide in, AJ decided to say it out loud, “Okay, the reason that I’m not making friends is because….there’s a rumor. I’m not saying it’s true, but there’s a rumor I’m bossy.”
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