Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a young girl growing up in an old, small town.  She had long, straight chocolate colored hair and deep brown eyes.  Her oval face held a blank expression most times, as she was the type to watch and listen more than express what she was thinking or feeling.

One autumn day this young girl arrived at school.  She loved her school-it was clean, quiet, and full of places to play.  She loved her teachers, and was a quiet and obedient student.  Unlike most kids her age, what she enjoyed most about school was reading.  She was happiest when she was working alone in her books, learning about new people and places and things.  Also unlike most kids her age, what she disliked most about school was PE.  It wasn’t that she disliked exercise-actually, she loved playing softball, hopscotch and four square.  For her, PE was terrifying for one reason: DODGE BALL.

In her little old town dodge ball was the favored sport for PE class.  Students begged and pleaded each day to play dodge ball during their treasured exercise time.  And as convincing as the students were, the teacher almost always agreed. Dodge ball it would be.

From beginning to end, dodge ball was excruciating.  The two manly boys who were always captains lined the other children up to select teams.  First chosen were always the other ‘sports boys’.  Next came the ‘tom boys’, and then the cute, outgoing girls.  Last was always the oval faced, brown eyed girl.

After that exercise in taxonomy, the game began.  Circling around their prey, the ‘sports boys’ would throw the ball at each other, eager to show off their quick reflexes and agility.  The prey would scurry from one side to the next, not wanting to be hit yet not quite wanting to back down, either.  Then the ‘tom boys’ jumped in, dodging with grace and flexibility.  The cute, outgoing girls giggled, admiring the prowess of the young, manly hunters. 

The young girl trembled, knowing it was just a matter of time before she became the victim.  Eyes wide, she tried to avoid the flaming red sphere, but every time SPLAT! she took it in the stomach. On the back.  At the ankles.  Tears welled up in her big, dirt colored eyes. 

Not sure which was more painful, the sting of the ball or the burn of the humiliation, she attempted to survive.  The predators became more confident.  The giggling girls pumped their testosterone.  SLAP!  TWANG! Over and over the ball would smash the young girl down, the laughter of her classmates growing louder and louder and LOUDER.  Paralyzed with pain and fear and humiliation she froze, absorbing one sting after another after another.

And in that moment, relived thirty-five years over and over, she realized something.  The young chocolate haired, dirt eyed oval faced girl learned that she owed her classmates a thank you.  For what she realized is that those ‘sports boys’ and ‘tom boys’ and laughing spectators had taught her a very important lesson: dodge ball is the way the world works.   

And in that moment, decades later, she realized that like dodge ball, it’s easy to run away from what’s coming at you.  She realized that it’s painless to punch someone in the gut, slap them on the back, ding them at the ankles and go back for more.  Because of dodge ball, she learned that it’s hard to stand strong, take the hit, stay upright, and confront each obstacle hurled by others.  She understood that life really is about survival of the fittest.  And because of dodge ball, she survived and lived happily ever after.

The End.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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26 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time

  1. Desiree says:

    You were such a beautiful little girl! How unfair and hurtful it was for you to have been singled out for what was really nothing less than blatant bullying disguised as a game of dodge ball. I am appalled that your teachers were so dumb as not to have seen what was taking place. By rights, they ought to have intervened. That you took this bullying time and time again and stood your ground, knowing what was coming to you each time certainly shows true character! Goodness only knows what the rest learnt!

  2. Dee says:

    Desiree’s comment says it all: teachers allowed these children to bully you. Out of that negative experience came good for you. But like, Desiree, I wonder what those teachers were teaching the other children. Your strength of character at such a young age is exceptional.

    Peace.

  3. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Desiree~ thank you. When I was growing up I don’t think schools paid as much attention to bullying as they do now. Especially if it wasn’t blatant bullying, like dodge ball. I know kids still play and love this game…I just thought it was horrific.

    Hi Sara~ dodge ball solidarity! Thank you!

  4. Michael Ann says:

    OMG, that is awful Jennifer! This made me sad 🙁 I don’t know about the lesson learned but if you say so…. My first thought too was, “Why did the teacher let this happen?” I know kids still love Dodge Ball. My sons sure do/did. I always hated it too. I’m sorry you have to live with that memory.

  5. Vapid Vixen says:

    What an awesome analogy and way to turn the horror of dodge ball into something positive. What a stupid game. I always left the gym with red welts on my skin. Found you from the spicy weekend blog.
    OH, and what an adorable little girl you were!!

  6. lisa says:

    Oh wow this just brought back so many meories of how much I hated playing dodge ball too. I used to always try to get hit, though, because I never wanted to be the last one standing on my team. I had that happen once and it did not end well. Talk about embarrassing.

    I’m so sorry you had to go through all that, but it’s great that you were able to learn from it! BTW, you have a beautiful family! 🙂

    Lisa
    http://www.insignificantatbest.com

  7. Sandi says:

    Hello! Boy did this bring back painful memories. I hated dodgeball, but even worse, I hated “Red Rover”! I was a skinny wimp and on the unlikely chance I was actually called, I could never break through. And, when my side called anyone, they always headed for me, as they knew they could break through the wimp hold!

    I know kids are worse bullies now than ever, but no one was paying any attention in the 50’s, when I was a grade school kid!

    Enjoyed this post, and several others I read recently!

  8. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Elisabeth~ Thank you. Isn’t the saying ‘that which doesn’t kill us makes us grow stronger’?
    Hi MA~ You know, I don’t fault the teacher. I didn’t speak out. Sometimes we don’t know what others are experiencing unless they say something…it probably didn’t look as bad as it felt to me.
    Hi Susan~ That’s how I feel, but I still see that game being played at recess…

  9. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Vapid~ Thank you. I agree-it’s a stupid, stupid game. I felt like there must be something to learn from it!
    Hi Kim~ Yes, and now I am in the position to pick my own teams!
    Hi Lisa~ I understand about the bad endings-not my favorite memories, either!
    Hi Sandi~ Oh yes, Red Rover. What is it with those games? They were so horrible! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog!

  10. Samantha Stacia says:

    GREAT POST! thats certainly turning the tables! I HATED that game too, i guess it is banned in some schools now.
    Thanks so much for commenting on my blog and about Blooming late, i am glad that it is helping you as a writer which is all I could ever want!
    Happy Writing!
    Samantha Stacia

  11. Janie says:

    Your strength of character was tested very early on in life. And you passed with flying colors! Bravo! I hated PE too. In fact I almost failed PE hehe =)

  12. Cheryl@OntheOldPath says:

    I HATED it too! I was another brown eyed brown haired girl getting hit with the ball. I became a bit more athletic as I got older but was never a PE fan. Oh man do I remember the red ball I can even remember the sound it made when it hit the floor. Glad it made you into a survivor!

  13. brenda says:

    Dreadful story, but wonderful story and save–how you turn the expereince on it’s end and make something bigger. Also, amazing pictures of you as a wee lass, such a beauty. I don’t think I’d be that brave without first photoshoping myself. I have not sporting abilities, none. I am always amazed I return home after my nightly (almost nightly) walk without tripping over a line in teh sidewalk. You can imagine how pathetic I was at dodgeball and was cringing as I read this story.

  14. Undeserving Grace says:

    what an adorable little girl and beautiful family!
    I am sometimes appalled at the stories my daughter tells me about her days. we have long talks about things I was hoping she’d miss out on or at least happen later than now.
    now following from today’s hop…..
    come by and say hello 🙂
    {tara} from Undeserving Grace

  15. mamawolfe says:

    Hi Samantha, Thanks for the comment-I love turning negatives into positives!
    Hi Agent…getting hit was never any fun!
    Hi Janie, PE was never one of my best grades…like it much more now as an adult!
    Hi Kathryn, some childhood memories can be brutal, but I survived!
    Hi Cheryl, I, too, am more athletic and enjoy it much more as an adult!
    Hi Brenda~ gosh, I trip all the time, too! Quite embarassing in a college town!
    Hi MamaBaby~ You’re right-I can hide it well. Always have.
    Hi Grace, I talk to my kids about this, too. Sadly, my son loves dodge ball. He would be a sports boy!

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