“The 5th Graders are Coming!”

History. We can learn a lot from it. An inventor’s idea that proved successful. A leader’s decision that changed the world. Other stories where the nice guy, or gal, finished first. Conversely, history includes wars, the Great Depression, and things we’d just as soon not have to explain to our children.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve sheltered Jessie from select topics. However, as she reminds me, all the time, she is ten. My wife and I allow her to read the newspaper and can’t clip out all the stories we wish her young eyes didn’t have to see. It’s better, though, to get an explanation of an upsetting current event from Mom or Dad than from a fourth-grade classmate. Still, my inclination is to wrap my arms around her, to fight her battles, and yes, to shelter her.

Battles and challenges closer to home can pop up any time. One day on the drive home from school, Jessie said the 4th graders (her class) were having trouble with some 5th grade boys interrupting their game at recess. My first thought was, I’ll go to school tomorrow and you won’t need to worry about those fifth-grade bullies. Okay, I didn’t really think that, but my initial reaction focused on “Dad to the rescue.”

I suggested that maybe she could gain the assistance of a fifth-grade girl, but finished the conversation with, “I’m sure you’ll work it out.” Jessie knows that tattling is not looked upon favorably, by her parents, teachers, or fellow classmates, so she felt she was in a bit of a tight spot. At this point, I’ll let Jessie share her story.

    Jessie, Age 10
    Hi all. We’ve been having a little bit of a fight with some of the 5th graders at school this year. We get outside before them. When they get recess, they come tearing out to the four square. Now, I don’t have anything against 5th graders, but I don’t believe that they should ruin our game. I don’t mind if they join us, but they change the rules. One 5th grader said, “You can spike the ball to the other 5th graders, but not to these little weaklings.”

    Day after day, the 5th graders took over until finally, one of my best friends and I made a plan for a protest. In Social Studies, we are learning about when American colonists are mad at the British for having to pay unfair taxes. That’s how all my friends and I feel. The 5th graders are forcing us to play by unfair rules or quit. So the words that the colonists said were, “No taxation without representation.” We decided to come up with a protest to rhyme with that.

    Finally, after some hard thinking, my friend said, “I’ve got it.” Though it was my friend’s idea, she didn’t want to join in the protest. So I, by myself, stood in the middle of the four-square game shouting, “No spiketation without rules of the nation!” Now my protest may not have worked, but that’s not the point of this column. My point is to stick up for what you believe in, even when it means humiliating yourself in front of a whole bunch of tough fifth-grade boys. I was not embarrassed at all, however, because I knew that I had stood up for what I believed in. That made me proud.

When I picked Jessie up from school the day after hearing about her four-square frustrations, I asked, “How was recess?” She proudly told me about what she called her “one-woman protest.” My chest puffed out as she described the events on the playground that day. When we arrived home, we called her mom, who was seriously proud, too. Jessie might not have changed the world, or even recess, but she stood up for herself, her friends, and her sense of fair play.

But whether Jessie is leading a protest or all is well in the world (at least during recess), one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.

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