There is an art to swinging and either not showing off the top of your Joe Boxer’s, or showing it and remaining cool while it happens. In the First Grade Matt was neither. He showed top and was embarrassed when the other boys snickered at his “wedgie.”
“It’s not polite to point it out,” he cried.
“You’re right,” I agreed. But for the life of me, how was I going to change a thousand years’ worth of playground tradition: Show off your undies and someone’s gonna snicker. Finally I decided to show the poor lad the brighter side of the picture.
“Look,” I asked. “Why don’t you go back and tell those guys who are giving you a hard time to consider this: It’s better to have a wedgie than to show the crack of doom.”
He went for it. The guys went for it- the phrase that is. It stuck and is now the students’ preferred term for what ought to remain covered.
T-1 doesn’t his. It’s nearly impossible. He’s built like a mini linebacker. Walks like one, too. He wears pants with elastic waistbands, so most days the boys who sit behind him are treated to a generous sight of his crack of doom. That would be an older and wiser Matt and his year older companion, Jacob.
The boys have accustomed themselves to T-1’s short fallings. It was “OH! Man! Gross!” for the first couple of days of school, but then charity settled in and has prevailed for the better part of ten or more weeks now.
That’s all at an end.
On Monday Skye entered our little domain. Skye, as in… SHE.
I had made the announcement last Friday that we might be receiving a new student. The boys were elated. They were so accustomed to having boys they couldn’t fathom an actual girl coming into the class. When I told them it would be a girl, Jacob’s first response was, “Oh, great. What’ll we do about THAT?” He was pointing to T-1’s problem. Charity was about to smack nose-to-nose with chivalry.
It took until Tuesday for Jacob to finally have his fill.
“May I have a piece of tape?” He was at my desk asking for the dispenser.
“Sure.” I was busy, not sure what he needed it for, and didn’t pay much attention to what he was doing.
When I next looked up T-1’s chair had a piece of paper covering the vent at the back. Realizing what had happened, I told Jacob to bring T-1’s chair over to me. I found a sheet of cardstock I’d laminated for Math projects and we fixed a more permanent “modesty shield” with some duct tape to the back of T-1’s chair. T-1 was quite proud of it. In fact, he set to taking his markers and attempted to see if he could make aliens or some such thing as decorations on it.
A girl in the room changes things. It makes the guys realize with clarity the distinctions between guys and gals. What was tolerable for “us guys” is simply unbearable now that Skye is here. Jacob has the sensibility and sensitivity to know this. The fact that she’s able to keep up with him playing “tag” at recess has nothing to do with the fact that she is a “she” and ought not be subjected to what he has to put up with as a “he.” For Skye’s sake Jacob demands modesty even where T-1 cannot give it of himself. And it is for his sake, too.
He’s quite a young man.