The One Hundred-and-Eighth Chart

December 6, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

On Tuesday Five got in the car after school and declared, “Today was the worst day of my life.”

Um…okay.  I thought I would have to wait at least eight or nine years before I heard that, but, sure.  I decided to roll with it.  I knew that the kindergarten version of “the worst day of my life” couldn’t actually be that bad.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Today in Centers there wasn’t any room for me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I went to do Centers, and there wasn’t any space, and then S. said, ‘I think [Five] looks lonely,’ so then she and M. and M. came over, but then they took up all the room and I didn’t get any space.”

I didn’t know exactly what words to use to express my sympathy.  I know she and S. are self-declared BFFs, so I didn’t know whether I should tell her I’m sorry S. took up space at Centers (and I’m not completely sure, but I think “Centers” refers to various areas of the classroom that house different types of toys: a kitchen area, puzzles, books, etc.  I didn’t know if Five wanted to play in a particular Center, but apparently that didn’t matter in this situation.)

I also didn’t know whether I should feel bad that so many friends came over.  Sometimes Five gets a little overwhelmed when she gets into a room with a lot of people; she starts to feel nervous and doesn’t know quite what to do or say.  She’s reacted like this since she was a baby.

I decided to stick with her original complaint: not having enough space in Centers.

“I’m sorry you didn’t have enough space.  Sometimes I think our friends don’t realize that they’re taking up too much room.  Aren’t you and S. BFFs?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think she did that to you on purpose?”

“No.”

“I think she just didn’t realize what was happening,” I concluded.

“Okay…”

I waited to hear what else might have happened during Centers to transform the day into “the worst day” of Five’s life, but no other incidents were forthcoming.  I didn’t get the rest of the story until we got home.  Five, Seven, and I went upstairs as we do every day so the girls could change out of their school clothes, wash their hands, and decide what they wanted to play before Seven had to do her homework.

“In P.E. I didn’t get to put away the hula hoops even though Mr. S. told me to put away the hula hoops and the cones,” Five related, obviously continuing the conversation from the car.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Mr. S. told me to pick up the cones after P.E., so I picked up the cones and put them in the cone pile, and then I had to go pick up the hula hoops.  I picked up a hula hoop and put it under my foot—my toes were on the edge of the hula hoop—and then R. came and snatched it away from me!”

“Oh, no!” I said, feigning shock.

“Yes, and then she took it and gave it to S., and S. put it in the hula hoop pile.”

Once again I tried to comfort her with the thought that sometimes friends do things thoughtlessly but not with any malicious intent.  Five decided to get some more mileage out of the day, however, when she told the story again to Seven.  This time Five remembered to tell about all of the events of the worst day of her life.

I thought talking it out twice would help Five work it out of her system, but that night at dinner she decided to share her worst day again.

“I have something to tell you,” she announced, standing next to her chair.  “Well, you already know about it,” she said, inclining her head toward her sister, “and you do too,” she added, looking at me.

She proceeded to tell “the boys”—her father and grandfather—the entire story.  So I got to hear about “the worst day of my life” a third time.  I kept my fingers crossed that it would be the last time.

Of course, wouldn’t you know, something set Five off, and on Wednesday she declared that it was “the worst day of my life.”  I didn’t hear about the declaration until Seven came to me and said, “She’s having a W-D-L.”

“A what?” I asked.

“Worst day of her life,” she explained.  “Again.”

I couldn’t hide my smile this time.

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