Playground meltdowns and social storms

Hey, if you’re curious, go take a look at my story for “Can I Sit With You” on my friend’s blog about social life in elementary school.

The site is still taking submissions! We all have stories to tell about friendship, love, angst and betrayal, even if we haven’t gotten to middle school yet. So far, many of the stories are intense, and I think are a good reminder for parents and other adults that kids’ emotions run high. It is also maybe a reassurance to kids who will read the blog or the upcoming book, that it’s okay for them to take their own friendships and emotions seriously. NOt that they don’t, but it is pretty annoying to be in mid best-friend-breakup when you’re 9 years old, and have everyone act like you’ll forget it in no time, or like you’re being a baby for making a big deal about it. Social relationships are always a big deal for us humans and near-humans…

My story is called The Sex Change of Zyax II. It’s about me in 5th grade, and it’s completely true.

Cheryl wore suede ankle boots. Her mom’s boyfriend took them on ski vacations. Cheryl said that reading was gay, and that I should be named Liz the Lez. To escape her, I went out into the blazing sun of the sidewalk and the heat-shimmered parking lot. Other kids followed us out, hooting. I saw Jennifer’s face laughing at me in the crowd. She was chanting with them, “Liz the Lez, Liz the Lez.” Someone pointed out that I was about to cry. People were crowding around me, too close, like stampeding animals. I felt sweaty and scared and a little dizzy. Sounds all started to blend together, babbling nonsense sounds, waves or wind or a waterfall over rocks.

My favorite story on that blog so far is the story about the girls on the swings, Love Hurts, by Sarah Glover.

Mark Grady disfigured my back for life. Mark Grady. Even after thirty-odd years, the name still makes me cringe in agony. Mark Grady — a sadist, a scoundrel and a bully. I loved him. Desperately.

Fifth grade. For me boys were nothing but chimps with less fur. Dirty nails. Dirty necks. No redeemable qualities. Except for Mark Grady, curse his lanky, green-eyed soul.

It all started innocently in Mrs. Cotoia’s class.

“Should men learn how to cook and clean?” she asked. Mrs. Cotoia was a feminist. She wore cool bell bottoms and hoop earrings. She looked like she should have a theme song.

We wide-eyed girls nodded rapidly.

It’s all about the angst, people! If we had happy social moments, we’re just NOT TELLING.

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