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The Pen is Mightier than Mikey

The weather had turned strangely warm for this time of year, the children were playing ball outside and it reminded me of another last fall day from my youth. My first taste of the power of the press came unexpectantly in elementary school.  I didn’t like the constraints on the use of the schoolyard.  The older boys had permanent “dibs” and pushed my friends off the field every opportunity they had.  My limit was reached one particularly warm early afternoon.  The sun filtered through the lightly leaved trees in the green space next to the open area where my friends and I had started a game of dodgeball.  A group of older boys approached the field from the green space and told us to leave. Surrendering the field based on the entitlement of age alone just rubbed me wrong.  As my pals started to walk off the field to yield it, I walked up to the oldest boy and started to protest.  Mikey Kinney was much bigger than me, but I felt every inch of anger inside of me increasing my height.  My strange action made my friends stop in place and the other boys turned their heads towards us.  I felt time actually stop.  The wind ceased to blow and no more leaves fell from the trees. Even the birds stopped singing.  Mikey loomed over me to help me understand the power of physicality.  As I voiced my point about the unfairness of the older boys always taking over the field, he deftly placed one large hand squarely on my shoulder and knocked me down.  Startled, I looked up at him with my shocked face as he and the other older boys laughed, turned and started to get into position to play their game. My pals slinked away.  I noticed that I was alone.  I picked myself up and walked toward my classroom.

As I entered the room, I saw Mr. Ritchie bathed in a shaft of sunlight standing at the window. It made his gray hair bright and silvery.  He turned to look at me as I nervously dusted dirt off my skirt and greeted me with a question.  “What are you going to do about that?” He had seen what happened and I realized that he was asking me how to solve my own dilemma.  Adults should be counted on to enforce fairness.  They certainly preached it enough.  Now, even my teacher didn’t provide assistance. I was speechless.  I looked down at the school newspaper that he was holding.  Although it sounded weak, I angrily stated that I was going to write a letter to the editor.  I didn’t even know if the newspaper printed letters to the editor.  I was just remembering those words from some movie I had seen at the Manor Cinema.  Mr. Ritchie told me that he was the editor of the paper and my idea was a good one.

My letter was printed a week later. I described the rough way that the older boys just took over the field without waiting for the game to end.  It brought me a special kind of attention in different ways.  The principal wanted to talk to me and I thought I was in trouble.  But Principal Herman just wanted to know more about the problem.  He told me that he would take my issue and think about it.  One day shortly after while my friends and I were playing dodgeball on the field, the older boys approached to take it over.  When I walked toward Mikey, my friends stood behind me this time, and Mikey stammered a little and told us that we had fifteen more minutes to use the field.  We enjoyed that time and laughed more than usual when one of the older boys got hit by the ball when he wasn’t paying attention.

Later that week, Principal Herman announced the new sharing times for the field.  The older boys had their time to play, my group of boys and girls in our class had our own, and the youngest kids even had their own time to play tag.  It ended up working out for everyone.  I didn’t even know that the little kids didn’t feel like they could use the field until the announcement.  The principal must have checked around with every group.  Yes, the power of the press made an impression on me that week.  I even joined the newspaper to help write stories after Mr. Ritchie invited me.  I have a couple of copies of the paper stashed away in the attic.  When my own children get a little older, I will share my stories with them.

 

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