“We all have our cross to bear; we all have our burdens to carry.” He had heard it all his life, all six years of it. There was a helpless, yet matter-of-fact tone in her voice whenever his mother said these words, as if it were a truth not to be questioned. He couldn’t say why, but he only knew that he did not like it, neither the words or the tone. He also didn’t like it when he had an accident—-spilled something, or tripped and fell. She would come running up to him and put her arm around him and try to give him comfort. There was so much wild emotion in her voice. He felt a kind of revulsion at the touch and tone of pity.
He stood in the small wooded area behind his house and watched the shining trucks speeding along on the overpass about fifty yards away, and he was filled with excitement from the motion and the sound. The smooth, deep, low roar of the motors spoke to him of strength and purpose. The blue and red cabs smiled in the sunlight and beckoned him to follow. He folllowed them in his imagination to mountains, valleys and cities he had never seen, while in ther cabs of the trucks he imagined men of a smiling boldness, men to whom life was not a burden.
“Danny, what are you doing out here alone? You better get back in the house.”
That was another thing he didn’t like. It seemed like his mother never wanted him to be alone, as if it were wrong somehow. But he was so happy being alone. He could think and dream and make up stories with his toy soldiers, cowboys and Indians, and not have to hear that tone of worried concern and pity.
At kindergarden things hadn’t been much better. He couldn’t be alone there, either. And every thing there was to do had to be done at the same time as everybody else. Play when they played, ate when they ate, take a nap (even if he wasn’t tired) when they did, and share. Share all the time. It was so boring.
But now, this year, tomorow, he was to enter the first grade. Real school! To learn!
When he and his mother entered the classroom many other children were already seated at their desks. The dark-haired, middle-aged teacher walked up to him, bent down to about his height, with her hands upon her knees, smiled a caring, pitying smile, and——whack! His open right hand seemed to move of its own volition—–across that teacher’s face!
Later, it didn’t matter that his mother had spanked him; it didn’t matter that he was given a desk at the back of the class, and that some of the children quickly and secretly turned around to look at him, and just as quickly looked away. Only his first feeling of pride mattered, as it had thrilled through his whole body and mind, and did so again as he re-called the amazing event. Only a sense of himself as, not weak or helpless, but able and important, and worthy of those trucks crossing the overpass, going to exciting places.
One other thing mattered. He met his first friend (Marsha, a classmate) who, during lunch, had calmly walked straight up to the table where he sat alone, and said, with happy smiling eyes, “I want to be your friend.”
I feel like the boy! Mamas yelling, teachers preaching, friends acting, bosses nosing, people talking! Whack! It does feel goooooood!
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