It was sixth grade. I was new to the school. I didn’t live in the area, so making friends was difficult. My multi-colored, rose-tinted, oversized square shaped glasses didn’t help. Everyone at Parkville Middle had grown up together, created their little cliques- I was a clique of one.
I watched a lot of after school shows on Nickelodeon as a consequence of this. One of my favorites was “are you afraid of the dark.” You either remember it and were a huge fan or you have no idea what I am talking about.
I had just watched one of the episodes about the “red coats” and the British army. Some scary ghost had come back as a result of a girl finding one of the brass buttons off of his jacket in the woods.
My English assignment for that evening was to write a poem, and so I decided to write one about the Red Coats. It was titled “The Red Coats Are Coming”.
And so after quite a bit of work, I turned it in the next morning, and I was surprised to get it back with a note attached to it saying something like, “Nice poem, but next time I would like to review some of your own work.”
I wish I would have saved the poem. I wish I would have saved the note she scribbled at the top of it. It would have made a great piece to share. It was 6th grade however, and half a dozen moving trucks later I have no clue where that journal resides or if it even still exists.
This was before my family even had a computer or the internet. Most family’s didn’t I suppose, so I am not sure where she thinks I would have copied it from other than a book from the library…anyhow, it stung. I already wasn’t accepted by any of my peers and then to be ostracized by my teacher made it that much worse.
And so, I have a love/hate relationship with this story. I love how something I wrote impressed my teacher in a way that she couldn’t believe it came from me, and I hate how something I wrote impressed my teacher in a way that she couldn’t believe it came from someone as lame as me.
I never told her that I wrote the poem, never told her that she was wrong, never insisted on another grade, never defended myself. Perhaps that is what I am doing here, defending my 6th grade pathetic self, because I didn’t have the courage to do it when I had the chance.