When I was in 3rd grade, my family moved from the only house I had ever known to a suburb of Houston. Looking back, the move was a good one, but in the mind of a 3rd grader, it was horrible! How could they? How could they take me away from my friends like that? Do they hate me? Oh the INJUSTICE of it all! (Yes, Drama Queen was a nickname of mine. Why do you ask?) So, there I am in a new elementary school not knowing anyone. (Whereas my brother and sister were in the same school. Just proof that my parents loved them best and orchestrated the timing of the entire move in order to ensure that they would be together and I would be all by myself…an island adrift an ocean of strangers. Drama Queen much?)
The first day of school, I am nervous. I look around the sea of strange faces desperately seeking out a friendly smile that would reassure me that these people living out here in the sticks wouldn’t eat me alive just for sport. You see, 3rd graders are not really big on social graces and making the new kid feel welcome because it is the right thing to do. No. They are involved in covering their own butts and making sure that the bully isn’t sitting next to them or that the teacher likes them best. I will admit it. I felt very out of place. They all knew each other. I was the new kid.
Then came art class. There were 4 of us to a table. I was lucky enough to have a girl at my table that had the oh-so-very-cool 64 pack of crayons with the built in sharpener. The one with colors like aquamarine, raw sienna and umber. I didn’t even know what umber was, but my crayon box didn’t come with umber. This surely was the jackpot of crayons partners. (Oh sure, there were probably some showy kids that had the 72 pack, but they were out of my league.)
She opened up her crayon box, looked around and the 3 of us (probably drooling over her way-cool crayons) and smiled a little sheepishly. She told us that she asked her mom to get this one in case someone else didn’t have any crayons, she could share hers and make new friends.
And she did. Our friendship lasted the next 10 years. (Then we went to college. I later heard from her that she tried the same trick in her dorm, only she used beer instead of crayons. She told me it worked then too.)
Gabriella just started preschool. Every time one of the kids starts in a new school the whole “getting to know each other” process begins all over again. Oh sure, the kids have to go through it too, but I am talking about me here. They can use the old crayon trick. What am I supposed to do? Meeting other moms that you get along with is tough. Have you seen some of these people? They can be kind of scary!
What is the adult version of bringing out the 64 pack of crayons? (I know beer or martinis, but I am pretty sure it would be frowned upon to bring these to preschool. I know for a fact that would get me sent to the principal.) You have to remember, the part of town that I live in, everyone else not only has the 72 pack, but also happily flaunts that they have it! And that they wanted all gold, but that they couldn’t get it. You get the point. These women carry Prada bags. I carry a boobie purse! We don’t, how shall I say, have the same values. But I know that I am not the only mom in this town that is ….searching for the right word…..normal.
I have an idea, though. The next time I go to write at the Bookstore with a Coffee Shop, I am going to take my 64 pack of crayons and set them down in front of me on the table and open them up. Maybe some other cool mom will come up and sit beside me and want to share my crayons. And we will drink coffee together and be lifelong friends.
Maybe not. Maybe I will just color until it is time to pick up Gabriella from preschool, but it never hurts to try. It worked before. Would you come share my crayons and coffee with me?