This one is for Jakob, because I recently found out that he's being picked on at school again this year. Sheesh.
I was a nerd growing up. Okay, I'm still a nerd. The only difference now is I've come to terms with it. I was also very smart growing up. It's not like I was the smartest kid in class. There were other kids that were just as smart, if not more so. But I think I became known as "Brain", because of the whole nerdiness. Maybe it was my appearance. In 6th grade, the year this story takes place, I had awesome feathered bangs (which were in style), a fabulous perm (also very "in"), an A-line hair cut (NOT cool-and yes, a permed A-line is a not-so-great combination), glasses the size of half my face (seriously, whoever came up with that concept needs to be shot), and a super cool headgear. I also had braces on my front four teeth, but you couldn't see them under the headgear. I had to wear the headgear thing pretty much nonstop, too, which meant during school. Yee-haw.
So, basically, with the combination of the glasses and braces and headgear and big perm and feathered bangs, I don't think you could touch any skin on my face without some serious maneuvering.
Good times, my friends.
Anyway, we did a rotation in 6th grade, and Mrs. Nickerson was our science teacher. Oh man. Back in the day, I always thought "how old is this woman?" She had neat 70s polyester pants. She had a big chin wart complete with sprouting hairs. And her hair was always a shade of blue, purple, or pink. I think there's a theory that when you get gray hair, if you dye your hair with an undertone of one of those colors, then you don't look as gray or something. Which is true. You just look like you have blue, purple, or pink hair instead of gray. (Now when I think about Mrs. Nickerson, I realize that's probably what I'll look like in the future. Though, having never dyed my hair, I don't think I'll ever be convinced to do "gray with a pink undertone". I'm hoping to get gorgeous silver hair like my grandpa, or platinum white hair like my grandma.)
Now, science has never been my strong suit. I've had one class where it kind of sort of made sense to me. Two of my sisters got all the science proficiency in our family. So, even though I was known as "Brain" to my classmates, I really did not deserve the title when it came to science.
For some reason, Mrs. Nickerson thought it was a really good idea to read our test scores out loud after they were all graded. If you got below a 70%, though, she wouldn't read it out loud. How merciful. I usually did well, but there was one test that the info just was not clicking in my mind.
So, she went down the list, and...I got a 70% spot on.
Now I'm sure my little 11-year-old self blew the reaction of my classmates way out of proportion, but I saw everyone turn and stare at me, and whispers of "Brain got a 70???" "Natalie did so bad!" "Wow, I can't believe it!" I sunk down in my chair, but the taunts kept coming. And, because I'm a girl, I started crying.
And then I ran out of the room.
I know-take something not so bad and make it into a huge deal, right? Right.
I ran into the bathroom, and just cried and cried. I was so embarrassed, not only for the bad test score, but now for running out instead of blowing it off like no big deal.
Anyway, I waited out the rest of the class period, which wasn't super long. When the lunch bell rang, I decided to go back. Luckily, there were a couple of girls that were nice enough to come looking for me, and assured me it wasn't a big deal. And there was one boy that was super nice to me, too. So that made me feel better, that people would make sure that I knew that no one really cared what my test score was, that being upset was okay.
So Jakob, if you ever read this, know that it's okay to want to get good grades. And know that you get your perfectionism from me. And hopefully, you have some little friends at school that will take your side and put their arms around you and make you feel okay. Also, you will live through the bullying, and hopefully be a stronger, more compassionate person because of it.