Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chapter One of "Sensitivity 101..."

I wanted to do something special for those of you who haven't read my book yet. With school starting soon and the anxiety of starting somethng new in the air, I thought maybe a trip back to when I was in school and the first two lessons that I learned my help you ease the feelings your schoolage choldren have. Maybe by telling this story you may help you child be nicer to those in their classroom or possiibly stop the bullying that sometimes goes on. And it just may make you feel good about people in general.
So here is Chapter One of "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male." 


The time between when I was born and when I started fourth grade was pretty normal for me. I was intelligent, funny and the spotlight was shining directly on me. I was always very short for my age, had a buzz cut and was the only one in my class who wore glasses. And even though I was smartest boy in class, I was always anxious about how the other kids saw me. I read many books given to me by Nana and liked to share what I read with the other kids and teachers. The guys didn’t seem interested, while the girls came to me for answers to all their questions. The girls knew I would help them with whatever they asked me for.

My teachers always treated me the best. They said I was sweet, cute and very easy to teach. I wasn’t like the other boys in class who were into fighting, getting dirty and making fun of people. I just wanted to make friends and be accepted by everyone, especially the girls.

All through first grade I was in the same class as Jenna. She was a short, roundish shaped girl who had a beautiful personality. She was the most popular girl in our class and the prettiest. She had long blonde hair that her mom put up in pigtails and always tied with green ribbons. Jenna had freckles on her nose and under her eyes and always seemed to have a radiating glow around her.

Being that we were both smart, Jenna and I were always in the same groups. I often made her laugh with the silly things I did. I had a crush on her but didn’t know what to do about it. I remembered the talk Nana and I had about being different, sincere and making people feel special.

One spring morning, my mom had the radio on during breakfast and the song Up, Up and Away came on. It was a catchy tune, even to a six year old, so I found myself humming it on the way to school. When I reached the schoolyard, all of my classmates were waiting outside for the bell to go in. This was my opportunity to make Jenna feel special and to let her know how I felt about her.

Now I wasn’t a great singer or even a good one, but I put a lot of feeling into everything I did. I started to sing, “Up, up and away with my beautiful, my beautiful Jenna” to the melody in my head. The other kids looked at me like I was crazy, but Jenna had a cute little smile on her face.

I sang this little song every day before school and Jenna would always give me her special smile. It made me feel good inside to be accepted by her. One day during lunch she came up to me, gave me a small hug and said, “I really like being friends.”

I learned my first lesson that day, my great-grandmother was right. If I made someone feel special, was sincere and was a little different in going about it, people would like me and approve of what I did.

                                         * * *

Later in the school year, Jenna had an outdoor birthday party and invited me to come. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Her backyard was completely decorated in her favorite color, which was green. There was green crepe paper, green paper hats and green helium-filled balloons everywhere. Her birthday cake was decorated with green trim and had green icing.

It was a great party and toward the end we gave her presents. Thanks to my grandmother’s influence, mine had a yellow silk rose taped to the box. After we had cake and ice cream, her mom wanted to do something special, so she waved all of us kids close to her and explained her plan.

“Everyone get a balloon.” She said. “Once everyone has one, we will let them fly into the air and I want you to make a wish.” Her intent was to teach us a lesson, and she added, “In life there will be times when you need a friend. Find a friend here today and tie your balloons together, they will fly higher and the chances of your wishes coming true will be better.”

Jenna and I immediately decided to tie our balloons together. As they slowly ascended skyward, Jenna smiled at me and said, “I wanna be friends forever.” As the balloons disappeared from sight, I sang my little song to her while we held hands and agreed to always be friends.

As Jenna and I went through the rest of that school year and the next, almost every morning I would sing my little song to her and she would either smile back at me or give me a little hug that said thanks. Jenna and her family moved away the summer between second and third grade. At the start of third grade, when Jenna did not show up for class, I was devastated. I didn’t know where she had moved to or how to get in touch with her. I started to retreat from the other kids. I didn’t want to get hurt by getting close to someone else only to have them leave, too.

                                         * * *

We changed schools after the sixth grade. By then I was feeling the effects of my parent’s divorce and had retreated further into my own little world. Starting school fresh at a junior high was not going to be fun for me, and I was very anxious. There was only one junior high in our town, so all the grade schools combined into this one for the two years before high school started. This is where I ran into Jenna again.

She was standing amidst a group of girls before the first day of school started and I was very ecstatic to see her again. She still had her freckles and wore her hair in those pigtails with green ribbons, but she had grown. She was taller and skinnier and seemed to be very popular among her new friends. I wanted to say hi to her, but felt very small in the presence of her girlfriends. Not in stature, even though I was still short for my age. I just didn’t feel comfortable around crowds of people, especially ones that I did not know. I wanted to make an impression, but not make an idiot out of myself. I thought back to the first lesson Nana had taught me about being different but sincere.

I walked up behind Jenna and said, “Up, up and away, babe.”

When she heard those words, she spun around and gave me an incredible hug along with that smile of hers. It had not changed throughout the years. It was big, full and made my heart warm.

One of her friends shot me a strange look and asked, “Jenna, who’s the weirdo?”

I was ready to walk away embarrassed. I thought I had made a mistake approaching Jenna in front of her friends.

To my surprise, Jenna replied very gently, “Leave him alone, he isn’t weird. He’s a friend.”

I smiled, thanked her and left. Throughout the next two years every time I saw Jenna I repeated my phrase to her. She always gave me her biggest smile in return.

                                         * * *

High school came and once again Jenna and I attended the same school. But again we went our separate ways. She had new friends, different interests and we never hung out in the same groups. Jenna had continued to be very popular and, to say the least, I was not, nor was I accepted by her new friends. Even though we had drifted apart, every time I would see her I would say “up, up and away, babe” and she always smiled back.

Graduation day finally arrived and even though I had graduated early, I came back to march with my class. Our class that year was one of the school’s largest, around 300 students. Instead of holding the ceremony in the gym, it was held on the football field. They had decorated the field in our school colors, green and white. There were green and white crepe paper streamers everywhere, and on the back of every chair were green and white helium-filled balloons.

We sat through all the ceremonies and finally, after the last diploma was handed out, it was time to celebrate. Normally, that meant the graduates would take off their caps and toss them into the air. This year they were afraid someone would get hurt, so the principal announced that he wanted us to celebrate by letting the balloons fly into the air and make a wish that our dreams would come true.

As soon as he finished saying this, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there stood Jenna. She asked me, “Do you remember my first grade party when we tied our balloons together and said we’d be friends forever? You were my first friend, and still my best friend.”

I’ve always been a very emotional person, and it became apparent as tears welled up in my eyes.

Jenna asked, “Can we tie our balloons together again like we did back then?”

I nodded and we grabbed two balloons, tied them together and as they flew higher and higher, I began to sing “up, up and away” to her. She smiled her smile that I had gotten to depend on so much and kissed me on the cheek.

Jenna looked at me now with tears in her own eyes, and said, “I’ll never forget how sweet you’ve been. It has meant a lot. Thanks for being you.”

As we watched the balloons disappear we realized that they were both green in color, just like they were so many years ago at her party.

I had no idea that such a small gesture made so long ago could make such a long-lasting impact on someone. Nana was right when she told me to be sincere and to treat the girls special. And by being different, I had cemented a small place in Jenna’s life. For a short amount of time, we had become one. We touched each other in ways that no one else could relate to. We shared a connection that was as pure as a friendship can be.

I have not seen Jenna since that day, so I do not know if she still remembers me or not. But every time I see a balloon ascending into the sky, I feel the magic of her smile.

 I learned two lessons from this experience:

 1) Be different, sincere, and make females feel special.
 2) Girls remember and cherish the small things that they experience.

So there you have it. The rest of the first ten chapters of the book relate similar lessons and also list what they are. I think these lessons can be used by both males and females, and that everyone should use them to the best of their ability.

Did Ya' Ever Notice that when people try to get along the world is a much better place?

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