They Played With Angela

I've never really liked being told what to do. Sometimes that has been a problem. But there is this one time when it turned out to be a moment in my story that I am proud of, a story that my mother has recounted for my children that doesn't make me cringe.

Me and my brother on the first day of school. (3rd grade & Kindergarten)

During the summer before third grade, we moved across town to an old Victorian home within walking distance of downtown, the public library, and my new school, Central Elementary. Over the summer, I got to know some of the neighborhood kids. One of them was Angela. Angela and her family lived in a small house a couple blocks away. I don't remember much about Angela except that she liked to laugh and her last name was Hispanic. When school started we decided that we would walk together.

Angela and I were in the same grade, but we were in different programs within the same school. She was in the traditional "graded" program on the first floor and I was in the alternative "non-graded" program on the second floor, where we studied according to our achievement levels. The kids in each program thought that their own program was better.

Perhaps that's why the girls in my class, when they saw me playing with Angela on the playground at recess, told me not to play with her. Perhaps it was because Angela was a little overweight or because she needed deodorant but didn't use it. Perhaps it was because she was a minority. I don't know why they told me not to play with her, but they were emphatic about it:

"If you play with Angela, we won't be your friends," they said. That was quite a threat to level at the new  girl. 

"You can't tell me who I can play with and who I can't play with," I replied without hesitation because I do not like to be told what to do. "I can play with whoever I want to play with."

I liked her, so why wouldn't I play with her? It was all very simple in my mind. Angela was my friend, I had played with her all summer, so I continued to play with her at recess.

Despite their earlier threat, the girls in my class decided that I could be their friend after all. 

And they played with Angela during recess too.

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