At Open House in the 4th grade, after classrooms had been visited and teachers had vigorously shaken parents’ hands; after the adults had retired to standing awkwardly in social groups under florescent lights with a hardened sugar cookie in one hand and a styrofoam cup of lukewarm coffee in another; we kids begged “just five minutes” and retreated to the mystery of the darkened school yard to play games in the dark.
The group was made up of mostly girls with a few familiar boys who led the temporary gang. I knew if I was going to enjoy whatever freedom came with nighttime rule of the yard we were going to have to hurry. My parents were “those parents” who wouldn’t linger, who needed us in bed at exactly 8:30 and who would be angry if I extended the “5” minutes into “15”.
“Let’s play Ditch-Em,” Brian suggested.
The rest of the tribe assented.
I got ready to run. Whether it was with them or after them I didn’t know yet, but I knew in order to survive I was going to have to run.
Before I could take a deep breath, the kids were gone. They’d run into the night quickly and with more silence than they’d shown in Mrs. Clegg’s classroom before.
Now I understand that that game is just a formalized excuse for group bullying, but then all I could think of was that they were all somewhere that I was not. They were all enjoying the spoils of 10 year old war and I was the one they had defeated. I found my parents and asked to go home.
Yesterday evening I carried my four-year-old from my bed where we’d been reading books to her bedroom. The circles underneath her eyes seemed to dig deep into her cheeks.
Her sister was gone at a pajama-themed birthday party and her dad would be bringing her home well after Naomi had fallen asleep.
As I tucked her in she began to cry. Again. She’d been teary all evening.
“Why can’t I go to the birthday?” she wondered at dinner.
“Why does Hope get to play at the party?” she asked during her bath.
And then as I pulled the quilt up over her shoulders, “When is it my turn?” She turned over to the wall, sad and sleepy.
“I love you, sweetie.” I kissed her and rubbed her back as she fell asleep.
Left out. Forgotten.
Whether it’s an adult-styled Ditch-Em game, with intention and purpose behind the leaving out, or simply a party or gathering it doesn’t make sense for us to attend, even as grownups we still can’t escape the feelings of being
It’s why I can’t watch Twitter when All. Of. My. Friends. are at the same conference and I’m tap tap tapping away on my laptop at my normal Starbucks at home. #LeftOut
It’s why I inside-gasp when I read on someone else’s Facebook wall the “OOOHH, it was SOO fun last night with the WHOLE group. Let’s do it AGAIN soon!” Um. I thought I was part of the whole group. I wore my bloated-tummy sweats, ate tortilla chips and watched “I Love Lucy” reruns while my husband worked last night.
It’s why it’s hard it’s sometimes hard to be happy for friends when they get chosen for __________ when it’s something I’ve been passed over for many times. Oh Yay! Whoo-Hoo. I’m so happy for you. When all I want to do is ugly-cry and dramatically scream to the sky, “WHY NOT ME?”
I could tie this article up and tell you that No, You Are Not Forgotten. And that would be true.
But what I really want to say, and what I can’t say to my fourth grade self or my four year old daughter, is Get Over It. At 10 or at 4 we lack the emotional tools to pick our teary selves up and sniffle our snot back into our noses.
But, how old are you? How old am I? Certainly old enough to know the truth:
That most of the time being overlooked is accidental. That most of the people who are chronic conference attendees either do so for work or because they don’t have anything else to do. And that being “left out” is only because you perceive that you would be more content somewhere else.
You are better than that. And so am I. I’m going to suggest that remember what and who we have at our fingertips. That we stop worrying about feeling left out and worry more about how we can be content today. Here. With what I have. That we try to create the type of experiences this morning or this weekend that will make us fall back on our sofas exhausted and say,
“Let’s do that again very soon.”
What about you? Do you have feelings of being left out?
How do you battle them?