By Cherimie Crane
The streets are slowed by the big yellow monster; moms stifle the sniffles as they let go of that little one’s hand. Teachers full of hope and caffeine open that door to a classroom that reflects their heart, soul and many weeks of preparation. The freshly shined floors of the school hallways echo squeaks of brand new sneakers that mom and dad worked so hard to purchase. It is beautiful chaos.
I am not so old that I don’t remember each and every first day. With a name like Cherimie, hair like a horse, and head as hard as concrete, first days weren’t always smooth sailing. How I wish I could go back and tell that awkward little girl all the things I know now. It is a good possibility she wouldn’t listen, but if she did, I would make sure to pass along life’s little secrets.
Just as right as rain her days would be if she knew in advance how to handle the ups, downs and sideways of the hallways. I would tell her not to worry about how difficult it is to pronounce her name even by those with more degrees than the Mississippi summer. One day that unique name won’t be quite so bad. Those boots you love so much will one day be more than the brunt of the cool kids’ jokes. Attempting to bleach your freckles off your face will not work and it burns like the dickens (yet will make a great story). It is OK to outrun the little boys, even if everyone tells you to let them win. It is equally as acceptable to excel in math and understand football. All those stories you write in detention may be worth more than you know.
Don’t be afraid to answer the questions out loud: being smart is far more important than being pretty. It lasts longer and costs less. That trip to the principal’s office over punching What’s-his-name is worth every punishment, even the lecture from Momma. There are some things worth fighting for, just prepare for the consequences and the sore hand. Those thick glasses and metal braces are temporary, the glasses will help you see the mean girls coming and the braces will perfect your smile when you see them going. For the love of mason jars, stay away from at home perms.
Talk to the new students, they are scared and alone too. Always stand up for those who are called nerds, you will be amazed at what they become. Don’t ever hide in the bathroom because some boy breaks your heart, he isn’t worth missing cheerleading try-outs. That day you will learn how to smile even when life hurts. Never, ever, allow someone to be made fun of, laughed at or discarded. Your Daddy would be disappointed greatly. The in-crowd will never be worth your self-respect. Never.
Don’t waste time and tears over not getting invited to all the parties, don’t lower your head one millimeter when those girls say and do things that make you feel like you have been bush hogged. They are mean, mean for sport. Pretty soon you will be in high school and those same girls we will be sitting in the stands watching you cheer, which only makes them meaner. Keep smiling, they never change but neither will you. There will always be someone hoping you fail, laughing at your mistakes, pouring salt in your wounds, and pretending to be your friend. You will always know who your friends are, cherish them. Quality trumps quantity.
Enjoy every moment, thank Momma and Daddy for being so hard on you. Don’t pout so much over that stupid, ridiculous curfew. These days will reflect who you will become, hair still as coarse, head still as hard, but all in all, not so bad.