Isabel was nervous about going back to school. She fretted all summer, remembering that last year when she walked into the classroom, some of the girls snickered at her new dress that Mama had made especially for this occasion. She overheard Arlene Mason whisper to the other girls, “Isabel’s dress is made from the same fabric as Mother’s kitchen curtains. Wouldn’t that make her a Window?”
Isabel took a deep breath and smoothed the invisible wrinkles
in her new dress before entering the classroom. She felt several
pairs of critical eyes surveying her and wished she had not let
Mama french braid her hair after all. “My hair is all wrong. I
really look like a farm girl,” she whispered to Eugene, who pushed
her through the threshold and into the room.
“Good morning, Isabel. Don’t you look nice this morning,”
Sally Anne said. She waved at Isabel to sit in the desk next to her.
Isabel felt grateful for the compliment and sat
with uncertainty as Arlene Mason gave her a look that could have
frozen an erupting volcano. The cold stare played havoc with
Isabel’s nerves, and she seemed to drop everything she touched.
Isabel sat down beside Sally Anne and carefully laid her slate,
her lunch pail and her pencil box on the desk.
Her new carved pencil box opened and dumped pencils all over
the floor while Miss Catron was talking. When the textbooks were
passed out, the history book, which seemed to have a mind of its
own , jumped out of her arms and landed on the floor with a loud
thud, making everyone in the room jump and then giggle.
That is, everyone except Isabel, who merely wished for the floor to open
up and swallow her so she could sprint home, where she did not
have to worry about what other people thought. Isabel reached
down to pick up her book, but someone else had beaten her to it.
Ernie Mason picked up the history book, wiped it off, and
smiled before returning the book to Isabel. She was not sure,
but it almost looked like he winked at her…almost, or was just
it just her imagination?
“Isabel, Ernie Mason just winked at you,” Sally Anne
whispered from across the aisle. “I thought he liked you last
year, and now I know it.”
“Who, me?” Isabel said. “Nobody likes me.”
“Oh, yes they do, Isabel,” Sally Anne said. She watched the
teacher, who was gathering information from a new student.
“Everybody likes you; only you just don’t know it.”
Isabel turned her attention to the teacher, but her thoughts
kept returning to Sally Anne’s remark. Could it be true? Had
she misjudged her classmates because one or two were unkind?
She determined to talk it over with Mama later.
Isabel pulled her lunch pail out of her desk at lunchtime and
ran to greet the rest of her siblings under the oak tree for lunch.
As she sat down on the ground, she saw Sally Anne eating and
laughing with Arlene Mason and two of the most stuck up girls
in school. “Rich girls stick together,” she said as storm clouds
passed by overhead.
How about you? Have you been nervous about your first day of school? Even in 1924, children faced bullies and cliques in school. They are everywhere but things are not always as they seem. Later in The Vision of a Mother’s Heart, Isabel learns that some of the children she had dreaded to face when school started had problems she couldn’t have imagined. Perhaps some children act superior to other children because they feel inferior and act that way to feel better about themselves. With help from her Mother, Isabel learned to be kind and forgiving. She would never have to worry about bullies again because she knew the secret. They’re afraid too.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”