I was seven, so she was eight, when things really kicked into gear. Living three houses down from each other up on Shelter Rock Hill in Danbury, CT since birth we had certainly met previously around the block, but when you’re a kid school is what cements a friendship.
In 1985 I was acing the second grade so hard my teacher, Mrs. Holmes, pulled my mom and dad into a parent/teacher conference and suggested I be skipped ahead to third grade. It’s all gone down hill in the years since, but in that life moment I had figured out the key to elementary education: if you practice chapter 2 during class you’re going to get assigned the worksheet at the end of chapter 2 for homework that night.
To my little seven year-old brain, school was a massive waste of creativity and energy, and homework even more so. What right did Shelter Rock Elementary have to impose on my free time? Non-school hours were meant for daydreaming in the backyard and going to tap class, not homework. So while the teacher taught chapter 2, I filled out the worksheet at the end of chapter 2.
It all seemed pretty logical to me. And as it turns out, in the second grade, the ability to grasp logic pretty much makes you a genius.
A grade year is like forever so in October when I moved up to third I needed the older neighborhood kids to embrace me. You just can’t really be friends with a second grader after you’ve become a third grader. It’s bad taste. I was moving up in the world and those little idiots wouldn’t understand.
I lucked out with Mrs. Shearer but Ericka got stuck with mean old Mrs. Hannstein. She needed all the support she could get. We were there for each other and just like that [**poof**] a friendship was born.
It’s crazy to think about how fickle life can be, but if I hadn’t been moved ahead we may have never become good friends. We wouldn’t have been in Mr. Weber’s 4th grade class together. We wouldn’t have laughed our asses off in the pop-up camper in my driveway all night making fun of Mr. Center and Mr. Arbitel the summer after 5th grade. We wouldn’t have experienced taking the bus to Broadview Junior High together. We wouldn’t have senior prom and Peer Leadership retreats and who knows what else.
Studies show childhood friendships rarely last into adulthood yet here we are. Thirty years have passed since Mrs. Holmes’ fateful decision brought us together. Thirty years of togetherness, separation, marriage, divorce, kids, college, careers, travel. Thirty years of friendship that we’ve refused to give up on.
I laugh about it but skipping the second grade has actually meant a lot to me in my life for many reasons. Only now am I realizing this life moment is one of them.
Surgery is in two days. Please pause for a minute, think a good happy thought, put E in your prayers and radiate as much LOVE out into the world as you possibly can!