Alex was excited about going to school. Not that he liked school. In fact he hated school. He didn’t have any friends there. No one seemed to like him or want to play with him. He was excited because Madison was in his class again. She had been in his class in Kindergarten. She was cute in Kindergarten, but over the summer she had grown into a beautiful woman. She was the prettiest and sweetest girl in first grade. Every time Alex saw her, his mouth went dry and his knees wiggled like they were going to fall down. He had to find a way to talk to her.
Alex jumped off the bus, skipping the two steps and causing the bus driver to yell at him. He didn’t care. He was determined to talk to Madison. He marched into the classroom, making sure his lunch kit could be seen. It was a man’s lunch kit just like his daddy’s—well, maybe a little small. Alex wanted everyone to know that he was a man. He may have been only six years old, but he was in love and that made him a man. He walked up to Madison’s desk before he put his lunch kit away. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He tried again. His mouth just hung open like a rusty hinge.
“Get away from my desk.” Madison yelled.
Once again Alex opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
“Did you hear me? I don’t want you standing by my desk.”
Alex went behind her desk and pulled her chair out for her like he had seen in the movies. He didn’t realize that Madison was starting to sit. She fell on the floor.
“I told you to get away from me. Now look what you’ve done. Just get out of here. No one likes you anyways.”
Alex walked slowly to his locker to put away his lunch kit. He was disappointed in himself and surprised at Madison. He couldn’t believe she had yelled at him. She must not be feeling well today.
At recess Alex watched Madison run to the swings. On the swing she moved her legs back and forth to make the swing go higher. Alex decided to help her. He ran behind the swing and waited for it to come down. When it did, he put both hands on Madison’s back and pushed as hard as he could. Madison went high up in the air, the swing didn’t. Madison hit the ground hard. Her head bobbed down to the ground and when it came up there was blood coming out of her forehead.
Alex ran to say he was sorry, but Madison pushed him down in the mud. Then she ran off to tell the teacher. By the time she got to the classroom, blood was all over her dress. Mrs. Johnson started wiping the blood off Madison’s face. Alex walked into the room to make certain Madison was alright.
“Alex, I’m surprised at you. That was mean.” Mrs. Johnson scolded.
Alex tried to explain, but Mrs. Johnson didn’t want to hear about it.
“Go to the restroom and clean yourself up. I don’t blame Madison for pushing you in the mud.”
Alex went to the bathroom and washed the mud off of his hands and arms. Then he started to cry. Not because he was hurt, but because he had hurt Madison. He didn’t want her to see him crying. She might think he was baby. So he stayed in the bathroom until he stopped.
When he walked back to the classroom, all the other students had come in from recess. Madison’s mom was there too. She looked at him in a mean way that scared Alex. He walked up to her, but she turned away before he could speak. Not that he could have spoken anyway. Why did Madison make him so shy?
Madison’s mom took her to the doctor to get her cut fixed. The room was kind of quiet after she left. The other kids didn’t talk to Alex for the rest of the day.
The next morning Madison came back to school with a bandage on her head. The doctor had put stitches in her head and covered it with gauze.
What do you care? It’s your fault. My daddy told me that if you touched me again, I’m supposed to hit you in the nose with my fist. Get away from me or I’ll do what my daddy said.”
Alex sadly walked back to his desk. He watched Madison all day to see if she needed anything. When it was time for recess, Madison had to stay on the sidewalk so her cut wouldn’t come open again. Alex decided to stay with her.
“Hi Madison. I’ll stay with you so you won’t get lonely.” He told her.
“I think I’d rather be lonely. Every time you are around something bad happens.”
“That’s not true.” Alex said, but with not very much conviction. It kind of was true. He didn’t mean for these things to happen. They just sort of happened before he could stop them.
“Just be quiet.”
“I’ll share me gum with you.” He took it out of his mouth to give to her, but she turned her head. Her ponytail hit his hand and the gum got stuck in her hair.
“Now look what you’ve done.” Madison yelled. “I told you to go away and leave me alone. I don’t want you to stand by me.”
“Just leave me alone.” She yelled as she went into the school to tell the teacher what Alex did.
Alex went back to the restroom—to cry again.
After a while the principal came into the restroom. “What’s the problem?” Mr. Watson asked.
“Nobody likes me. I don’t have any friends and most of all Madison hates me.”
“Well I’m sure it can’t be as bad as you say. Let’s talk about it. Nobody likes you?”
“You see that’s not true. I like you. The important question is do you like yourself?
“Not really.” Alex answered.
“That’s the most important thing. If you don’t like yourself, how can anyone else like you? Tell me something good about you.”
“I don’t know anything.”
“What do you do well?” Mr. Watson asked.
“That’s not true. Everyone does something well. Do you obey your parents?”
“Yes, most of the time.”
“Well that’s good. Most children don’t obey their parents.”
“I clean my room sometimes.” Alex said.
“That’s good. Did you push Madison?”
“Well I kind of did and I kind of didn’t.”
“What do you mean?” Mr. Watson asked in his principal voice.
“I was trying to help her go higher and she let go of the swing. I didn’t mean for her to fall.”
“You were trying to help her? That’s good.”
“I didn’t mean to put gum in her hair either. I was trying to share my gum and she turned her head.”
“Sharing is good.”
“One time my sister was crying and I hugged her.”
“Caring is good. It sounds to me like you do a lot of things well. There are lots of things to like about Alex. Now do you feel better?”
“Yes, I do.” Alex walked back into the classroom. He smiled at Roger. Roger looked at him strangely. Alex walked toward his desk. Emily dropped her book and Alex stopped to pick it up for her. She looked at him funny.
Alex began being nice to everyone. That afternoon Brandon invited Alex to play ball. They both had fun. Roger invited Alex to his house to watch cartoons. Suddenly Alex was getting a lot of invitations to play with other children. They were beginning to like Alex. By the end of the week, the whole class liked Alex. Well, not the whole class. Madison still didn’t like him, but that was alright because Alex liked himself. That was the most important thing.