Can I Sit with You?

The Pencil Box

by Suzanne Maclyn
Age seven at the time

In second grade, I was the new kid, again. My family moved ten times by the time I was twelve years old. I went to so many different schools that while eventually being “the new kid” became normal for me, it was never easy. Every time I started a new school, I had no friends, and I didn’t know the rules. Sometimes I cried because I did things wrong—or at least the wrong way for each new school.

Going to a new school usually meant that I had learned different things than the kids at my new school. In second grade, I knew how to read and spell better than the kids in my new class. Because of this, my teacher would have me tutor the other kids, most of whom did not speak English at home. We always had a spelling test on Mondays. If kids missed spelling tests because they were absent, she had me give them the make up spelling tests during lunch and recess. That was okay by me since I had no one to play with at recess anyhow. If there were no tests to give, I would pick up all the trash in our classroom. Sometimes I helped the teacher correct papers.

I was only seven years old, but I was tutoring classmates and giving them spelling tests, which in hindsight is just weird. The kids in class sure thought it was, and they were not nice to me at all.

One day I brought a new pencil box to school. I had decorated it by writing, “I love Jesus” and drawing special Christian fishes on it. I really liked going to church on Sundays, and thought that my pencil box was pretty. I was sad when the kids in class started to make fun of my pencil box, pointing at it, and singing in a teasing way, “She loves Haysoos!”

Haysoos was a boy in our class, but I didn’t really know him. His friend Raul yelled across the class and told me that Haysoos didn’t like me. I was angry at the way everyone was laughing at me, and I told him that I didn’t like Haysoos either!! I finally said that I hated Haysoos, even though I had no reason to hate him. Raul pointed at my pencil box and told me that I loved Haysoos. I was confused and told him that I hated Haysoos. I could not figure out why he kept pointing at me and laughing. Haysoos was mad and he was making mean faces at me.

I wanted to stay in the classroom during lunch, but the teacher needed to lock up the classroom, so I had to go outside. On the playground, the boys started running around me in circles singing, “You love Haysoos! You love Haysoos!”

I was getting so mad! I didn’t even really know Haysoos! Why were they saying this? I was screaming at them, telling them I didn’t even like Haysoos! When we went back to class, Raul came over to me and showed me on my pencil box where I wrote “I love Jesus.”

When Raul read it to me, he said, “You wrote it right here: See? I love Haysoos.”

I argued with him, “That says, I love Jesus!”

Raul retorted, “That is Haysoos! You spell Haysoos J-E-S-U-S!”

Now Raul was trying to give me a spelling lesson. But I still did not understand how J-E-S-U-S could be pronounced “Haysoos,” so I just kept fighting with him even though it only made me cry. Finally other students in the class told me that in Spanish, the name Jesus is pronounced “Haysoos.” I didn’t know what to do. I was very surprised, and finally understood why they were making fun of me, but it only made me mad at myself. I felt stupid.

When school finished that day, Raul and some other boys followed me and teased me even more. I was so aggravated,that I threw my pencil box into the trashcan. I wanted to show them that I didn’t love Haysoos.

I was very sad when I got home. All I could do was cry when I thought of my pretty decorated pencil box in the trash. I kept thinking of how happy I was when I first brought my pencil box to school, and how sad I was when I found out Haysoos’s name was spelled the same way as Jesus’. I was angry that the kids at school were having fun teasing me, too.

I thought that if I threw my pencil box into the trash, Raul and his friends would stop taunting me. Well, they kept harassing me anyway. But I wasn’t the only person that they picked on. They were mean to a lot of kids, and even to each other sometimes. I learned to stay away from them whenever I could. Plus I was just waiting. Waiting until my family had to move again. Then I could go to a new school.


Sunday Short: Left Out
November 4, 2007, 5:07 pm
Filed under: bully, cruelty, Jesus, popular crowd, religion, self esteem, sunday school, supportive parents

by Victoria Davis
Age 11 at the time

The little girl sat at the edge of the classroom — sensing the excitement but knowing her only form of participation could be observation. Squeals of delight came from the popular corner as white and pink tissue paper flew from the gift boxes wrapped in lots of curly ribbon.

Oh, she would get a gift too. But if she squealed it would be met with ridicule and various mimicking of whatever sound she made.

No, life was better for her if she was invisible. Teachers were oblivious or chose to tune out her peer-enforced solitude.

She loved people. She loved to tell jokes and laugh. But right now in this classroom — she was the only joke. What would she do wrong today? Oh, it would be something.

And she’d see these girls at church again on Sunday with their curls, angelic smiles, and stockings, looking like the apples of their moms’ eyes. Not saying anything, they would steal glances at one another as she spoke up in Sunday School — oh, what fun they’d have tomorrow about this lesson!

And yet, there was one place she could go with complete acceptance. Her mother and father adored her and enveloped her in their respect, love, and care the moment she came home.

And — in her room at night — she’d open her Bible and read of her Saviour. He was a “man of sorrows.” Enemies hung on his every word looking for their next point of contention with him. This man — this Jesus — knew what it felt like to be alone, to be made fun of even in church. To be left out and not fit in. He understands. He knows.

And snuggled under her covers beside a small lamp in the darkness, they met in conversation, talked about their day, and became best friends.