An Unexpected Acquaintance
Danielle, Age 13, USA
ďIs that glue in your hair?Ē my preschool teacher asked incredulously. I watched as emotions flickered across her face like someone flipping through channels on a TV. It settled on anger. She was most definitely not happy.
The answer to her question was yes, that was glue in my hair.
It all happened when me and another girl had been fighting. Again. This time it escalated to the point where we had dumped glue on the otherís hair. I snuck a glance over at her. Alex was her name. Blond hair, heavy bangs, big pink bows, icy blue eyes and long eyelashes that frame them. I suppose sheís pretty, almost like Cinderella, but that only made me despise her more. We had been nasty to each other since day one of our three-year old preschool class when she pulled my pigtails and I made fun of her bangs. She looked just as miserable and alarmed as I was at being yelled at. Her big blue eyes went wide as saucers as she looked up at our teacher with a mixture of panic, terror and disbelief.
Instead of meeting the teacherís eyes, I picked at glue drying on my arm. I frowned and shifted uncomfortably. The glue was not only clumped in my hair but also running down the length of my face and dripping onto my shirt. It was sticky and icky and gross and gooey like syrup, although I suspected it didnít taste nearly as good. My fingers were stuck together too, so I pried them apart one by one.
I wondered for a second what my mom would say about this and shame rushed me. I tried to think of a plausible excuse for why I was covered head to toe in glue, but I immediately felt worse for considering ways to prevaricate. I felt hot tears push from behind my eyes, threatening to spill over, but I bit them back. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry, I told myself.
I peeked up at our teacher, trying my hardest to ignore the shame that clouded my thoughts and tried to redirect my attention. I could tell she was especially upset because the tips of her ears turned bright red. For a brief moment Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer popped into my head but I pushed that image away as I was sucked back into the moment.
ďYou girls canít keep fighting like this! Both of you know better! What will your parents have to say? Both of you go to the timeout corner and donít leave until I say so.Ē Our preschool teacher finished with an exasperated sigh. She extended one hand over to the dreaded timeout corner and with the other she rubbed her temple. In that moment, she looked tired and worn like my favorite stuffed animal and the slight wrinkles in her face appeared more pronounced.
Alex and I both turned away and trudged our way over to the timeout corner, feet dragging and heads hanging in disgrace. The timeout corner was not a fun place. It was dark and dreary and the chairs were stiff and uncomfortable. Being in the timeout corner was like being locked in the dungeon in the depths of the castle, utterly dismal and ultimately discouraging. I took my seat as gently as I could, trying to stop my lower lip from trembling. The rickety chair creaked and groaned as I tried to position myself comfortably, but my attempts were pointless and futile.
The shame that flooded me was overbearing and heavy. The feeling that tugged at my gut was pure, unadulterated guilt, and I wanted to turn to Alex and tell her I was sorry, but my pride stopped me from doing so.
We both sat there trying our best to pretend the other didnít exist and staring at our shoes like they were the most fascinating things in the universe. Her shoes were red ruby slippers like Dorothyís from the Wizard of Oz and I watched, fascinated, as she tapped them together as if trying to send herself home. I wanted to go home too. I wanted to be away from this stupid corner and away from this stupid girl and away from my stupid teacher. I felt my throat tense with that pre-cry achiness and my vision blurred. I wanted all this stupid gooey glue that clung to me everywhere to disappear as well. My breathing became less steady and I could feel it, I was a hair away from bawling. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I repeated this mantra over and over in my head, willing those pesky tears away, but if anything it just made me want to sob more.
I turned my gaze over to the girl sitting next to me and watched as she picked up one strand of blond hair covered in white glue. She stared at it for a long second and then her lip began to tremble, her eyes glistened with tears and she let out a tiny whimpering noise. Then she began to cry. The sound of her tears encouraged my own and soon I too was crying, giving up my inner battle.
Our tears spiralled into full on sobbing that I couldnít seem to control. The tears streamed down my face without permission but I stopped trying to hold them back. Like a dam was broken, the tears poured down my face and cheeks leaving trails as they went. I could barely hear Alex, crying too, over my loud wails. Before I knew it her arms were wrapped around me and mine were wrapped around her. I squeezed her tightly, relishing in the feeling of having someone close. The hug felt warm and loving, a gesture that slowed my stream of tears slightly.
Her pink painted nails dug into my side but I didnít mind one bit because I was probably squeezing her to the point where she could no longer breathe. The hug was like drinking hot cocoa in the winter while curling up in a ball by the fire or slurping chicken noodle soup on a bleak, rainy day. It felt comforting, like home. We clung to each other, crying, for a fairly long time with no words exchanged besides our tears.
When we finally pulled away I was light headed from crying so much. I swiped at the tears that stained my face and tried to collect myself. I sniffled a few times and took a few deep breaths to calm my breathing. Alex was hiccupping from all the sobbing. I looked into her icy blue eyes, now swollen and puffy from crying. Eyes I would learn to love over the years. Looking into her eyes was like finding a dollar bill on the side of the road, a delightful surprise.
Her eyes were endless and bright with flecks of white glimmering softly around the iris. They were as blue as the sky on a sweet summer day. I took in every last detail of them with my eyes and listened as she sniffled the remaining tears away. I gave her a wobbly smile and she returned it with uncertainty but warmth.
We didnít say anything, but we both knew something had just changed. Something shifted inside me as I stared into those peculiar blue eyes of hers. I didnít hate her; I actually kind of liked her. And for a moment I didnít just see Alex as someone who looked at me with disdain and contempt or someone who pulled my pigtails. I didnít see her as some vexatious nuisance that bothered me to no end. I saw her as a person, a person with flaws just like me. I realized that I was wrong about Alex. I was wrong to hate her before I even gave her a chance, I was wrong to dump glue in her hair based simply on assumptions, I was wrong to judge her before I knew a single thing about her and what sheís like. Suddenly, I began to wonder more about her and what I may have missed. I should have never hated her, I should have learned more about her.
And that was how I met my best friend.
This page was last updated on November 07, 2012 by the KIWW Webmaster.