This I Believe

Janine - Cleveland, Ohio
Entered on October 21, 2007

64 count Crayola crayons

Trapper keeper

2 Pink Pet erasers

Elmer’s glue

Ziploc bags

Kleenex tissues

These items are what the teachers all believed that the children needed to learn and achieve in second grade. Little did either they or I know that a very large lesson about life was learned when my parents bought me rose-art crayons.

Growing up in a middle class neighborhood, kids took note when loading up your desk on the first day of school. So, as you can assume when we went school shopping it was very important to have just what all the other kids in class had.

Things were different for me that year. My father was recently laid off and my parents barely had two pennies to rub together. So when we went shopping, the clothes that were not purchased at a thrift store were put into lay-a-way. And, it was rose-art crayons, a plain white three ring binder with colorful folders neatly inserted, a couple gummy erasers, an off brand glue, and some generic tissues and baggies. My mom stressed to me over and over again through her own tears and mine, that real friends and good people should never judge you by your possessions, the color of your skin or your clothes but by what is in your heart.

Unpacking my bag and loading my desk on my first day of school was traumatic. Kids laughed and made comments, I heard them snickering about the poor girl whose parents could not afford to get her the Super Crayola box with the built in sharpener or the Strawberry Shortcake trapper keeper. But that was okay, I just kept neatly organizing my things. Things were going to be okay, I kept repeating in my head what my mom told me that they will like me for me not what I have in my desk. And believe it or not, they did. I made some great friends that year. My sense of humor and kindness to others carried me far. At art time my crayons were able to color in the same pictures, my gummy erasers were able to make mistakes vanish and my homework was always secure inside my white 3 ringed binder.

This lesson carried me far into life. I believe that someone should not be judged by the car they drive, their income, the house they live in, the color of their skin, the job they hold or the clothes that cover their backs. People should be judged for what is in their hearts. This is a lesson that I am trying to pass along to my children.

Yes, I am in a position to buy them the mega pack of crayola crayons, but I won’t. I will buy them just what my mother bought me. My hope is that they will grow up with the same beliefs and strengths that I did. It was sure amazing the lesson that I learned from the school list that year.