Can I Sit with You?

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin-Eater
May 5, 2008, 6:19 pm
Filed under: bully, peer pressure | Tags: , , , , ,

by Sabina Sood
Age 11 at the time

“I dare you to cheat on your math test.” The gentle breeze blows her words away before they reach my ears.

“What?” If my words aren’t enough to portray my puzzlement, my scrunched nose, half-opened mouth, and furrowed eyebrows are. Did she say, “cheat”? How will cheating on my math test make me worthy enough to be accepted into her circle of friends?

“I double dog dare you to write down all the test problems and give them to me,” she taunts. Who does Kristina think she is (besides the leader of the most popular group in fifth grade)? As my flame of hope to join her group is snuffed, I turn around to leave.

“I triple dog dare you. You can’t turn that down!”

My shoes squeak on the dewdrop grass as I pivot to face her. A smile tiptoes across her face as the other girls in her clique laugh.

She knows I know about the unwritten rules that bind every elementary school kid to the social ladder. Every kid keeps this rulebook tucked away in a corner of his mind until the day she outgrows it and passes it on to someone else. One of my friends passed this knowledge on to me when she graduated from elementary school, and during times like these, I wish she hadn’t. This rulebook is the Bible of elementary school and not abiding by it makes losing one’s social life inevitable.

As I ponder her statement, I flip through the pages of the rulebook in my head. Here it is. Page 37, Rule # 182: “If a kid is dared to perform a task, she has the choice to accept or refuse it. If a kid is triple-dog-dared to do something, she must complete the dare or risk public humiliation.”

If I refuse the dare, then word of my sin will spread like wildfire throughout the school, and no one will ever speak to me again. If I accept the dare and cheat on my math test, I will jeopardize my elementary school career … but that will only happen if I’m caught.

The next day, I enter my math classroom, my heart pounding and my mind searching — searching for the courage and reassurance that escapes with every breath. I accepted the dare and there is no turning back. My face tingles as shivers dart up and down my spine. Sweat trickles down my arm as I focus on one sustaining thought: I accepted the dare and there is no turning back.

Mr. Walshe reads the directions of the math test. Time creeps by. Tick…tock … tick…tock. After what seems like an hour, he finishes his speech with, “You have forty minutes to complete the test. You may begin.”

We turn the page. One student taps his pencil on the desk in a rhythmic pattern. Another accompanies him as she hits the desk frantically with her shoe. Tap … tap … bang … tap … bang. As the other students scribble on their scratch paper and fill in the bubbles on their answer sheets, I grab my pen, turn my left hand over, and jot down the first problem on my palm. “If 3x+5=…” The sweat from my hand smears the ink. “If 3x+5=…” My hand quivers, causing even the prettiest handwriting to be illegible.

I cross out my mistake and find a clean part of my palm to begin again. “If 3x+5=20, solve for x.” I glance up to see if anyone notices. Mr. Walshe types on his computer. The other students rustle their test papers and answer sheets. I look at the next problem, but I hear something as I bring the pen to my hand.

“Sabina, what are you doing?” Although he whispers, Mr. Walshe’s deep voice penetrates the classroom. His tone drowns the paper rustling and shatters the pencil-tapping and shoe-banging harmony. As he stands by my desk, his shadow devours me. My heart sprints to catch up with my embarrassment. The blood from the pit of my stomach rushes to my head as my face boils. He grabs my test and tears it in half. My classmates murmur. I can’t swallow and can barely inhale enough oxygen to stay conscious.

“Let’s go talk in the hallway.” I can’t move. My feet are glued to the ground. Guilt desiccates every drop of saliva in my mouth. It chains me to my desk. I struggle and finally break free from the shackles. The water that disappeared from my mouth now crowds my eyes and streams down my face. As Mr. Walshe crosses the classroom, I try to run, but my feet are anchors, maliciously enjoying every student’s glance that pierces my ego and follows me out of the classroom like a shadow.

As soon as the door closes, I ramble, trying to say anything that will save me from the punishment. “ThereisKristinaandtherulebookandshetripledogdaredmeIcouldntsayno.” I hate him. How can he embarrass me like that? It isn’t my fault that I cheated on the math test. It’s Kristina’s fault for daring me. It’s the rulebook inventor’s fault for writing Rule # 182. It’s God’s fault for giving me dreadful cheating skills. Why should Mr. Walshe punish me?

“This is your first and final warning, Sabina. I’ll give you a second chance to take the test, but I will have to call your parents,” Mr. Walshe explains. He returns to the classroom, leaving me alone in the hallway to think about what I have done.

The following day, I walk onto the playground and sit on the tanbark. Kristina and her group spot me near the swings.

“I heard Mr. Walshe caught you cheating,” one of her friends snickers.

“How embarrassing,” says another.

“Even though you failed miserably, having the guts to cheat makes you worthy enough to join my group. You can sit with us during lunch tomorrow,” Kristina scoffs.

I turn around and walk away as her offer hovers in the air, waiting for the wind to blow it away.


13 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This story is fabulous! It totally reminds me of a girl like Kristina at my elementary school. I bet there are a lot of kids who have gone to great lengths (like cheating on a math test) just to be friends with someone popular. The imagery when you get caught is wonderful!

Comment by Sally Jackson

This is one of my favorite stories on this website! I love the descriptive details you used. It’s very fun to read. Great work!

Comment by Karen

I went through a similar experience in elementary school. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Comment by Kari

Oh my gosh! I just love the ending! I’ve read this story so many times. It’s definitely one of my favorites!!!!

Comment by Mary

Thank you for sharing this story! I just can’t stop thinking about it. I can relate to this story because my daughter has always wanted to be a part of the “popular” group and will do anything to be accepted. I’m going to tell her read this story. Thanks again for sharing!

Comment by Libby

Oh my gosh! I just hate Kristina!!!!

Thank you for sharing this. When I was reading the beginning, I thought you were going to chicken out of the dare and that would be the end of the story. It’s good you went through with it and then learned your lesson after. I bet a lot of kids could relate to this (not necessarily cheating to get into a group of friends but something along the same lines).

I think this story should be published so other kids can get a chance to read it!

Comment by Joey Daines

I completely agree with Joey. This story should definitely be published! Great job!

Comment by Kathy Sanders

This is a great read! Very captivating…the first line had me hooked!!!! This definitely should be shared with other kids.

Comment by Joe

This story is simply fabulous! I’m so glad you didn’t end up being Kristina’s friend. I showed this story to my daughters and they really enjoyed it. Very honest!

Comment by Valerie

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece! I could definitely relate to it because I was in a similar situation in elementary school.

Comment by Tammy Wong

Wow, this story is very well written. I can definitely relate to it and my daughter can too. No one should ever have to cheat to be someone’s friend. I’m glad you didn’t end up being friends with Kristina.

Comment by Aarthi

Thank you for sharing. I shared this piece with my son and daughter. They loved it and so did I!

Comment by Lee

This is a great story to share with kids who have special needs because it shows that everyone, not only kids with special needs, feel out of place at school. It is a great story because it ends in a way where you are the better person for not sitting with the other girls.

Comment by Neil

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