In the past week, I’ve been reunited with classmates I haven’t heard from in more than 20 years. Out of the blue, their familiar names popped up on my Facebook account and suddenly, I was intrigued. One asked me if I was the person who starred in the 6th grade production of Ms. Dibono’s original musical “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (yes, that was me in a frilly shirt, Dorothy Hamill hair, pepto bismol skirt and knee socks) and the other was a long lost friend from Junior High School who reached out and shared a photo of me wearing a tuxedo shirt and black shiny pants, sitting next to him at his Bar Mitzvah along with my arch nemesis, who sat on the other side of him wearing the exact same outfit.
The funny thing was, I think I purposely erased those images from my mind. The sixth grade shot since I was still chubby at the time and was desperately trying to shed unwanted pounds on Weight Watchers (yes, I probably was the youngest member to join in WW’s history) and the second because who actually wears a tuxedo shirt to a Bar Mitzvah and thinks that’s trendy? When I was at my oldest friend’s son’s Bar Mitzvah last month, I’m convinced I would have been ridiculed by the 12 year old girls wearing cocktail dresses and heels. Hey, I would have laughed at myself. What was I (or my mom) thinking anyway?
It’s funny how those memories from elementary and junior high school are pretty dim or nonexistent – partly because I was an awkward kid with absolutely no sense of style. But once I hit high school, watch out! I invested in Stagelight make-up, grew out my Dorothy Hamill bob and wore flouncy shirts that made me look like a pirate. By my senior year, I got a job at Bennetton where I proceeded to buy out the store and take all my jerseys, leggings and mohair sweaters with me to college.
As my friends and I wore fuschia eye shadow and light pink lip gloss, we looked like the Jewish version of the cast from “Pretty in Pink.” I even remember my girlfriends and I calling ourselves “The Sexy Six” (yes, we were a bit full of ourselves) – I regained my confidence by then and pursued my passions without fear of failure. While most people hate their high school years, I instead selectively erased my memories of elementary school and junior high because I was one of the classic nerdy kids you would have seen on “The Wonder Years” who had crushes on boys who wouldn’t even give me the time of day.
But my worst memories didn’t even come from the boys. It was those heartless girls who pulled awful tricks on me – like the one who called another friend while I was at her house and proceeded to say terrible things about me just so I could see how our friend on the other line could easily make fun of me too. Or another who told a mutual friend not to speak with me and they froze me out of their group for months. Or the time my tuxedoed partner in crime decided to apply to the same high school I wanted to attend and managed to get in but I didn’t. She also had a knack for rubbing it in my face when she’d get a better grade on an exam than me. During those years when I was obsessed with my grades and obviously not my wardrobe, I was a classic attractor of Frenemies.
Today, when I look at my own kids, I begin to become apprehensive as my daughter prepares to start fourth grade. While that’s the same year I was tormented for being chubby (my nickname was Stubby Beth), I feel relieved that my child has become a veritable fashion plate, doesn’t have any weight issues and has the confidence to stand up to bullies and competitive, cutthroat girls. Though it won’t be easy, at least my childhood experiences have armed me with the ammunition I’ll need to protect my own kids. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
This week, the mailman was very kind to my kids. In the span of one week, we’ve received a few toys for testing and so today, I’m going to spill the beans on some great new items. First up, a brand new Wii game. Yes, I know we are the unofficial spokespeople for Wii and lately, we’ve been inundated with invitations to test out products and games. The one we received this week in a word is fabulous. It’s called Backyard Baseball and it actually enables your child (and your husband) to play on his or her favorite team, pitch, bat, field the ball and more. Plus there’s even an announcer who tells you if you’re screwing up or if you’re a baseball superstar. Click Here to find out more about this cool Wii Game.
As for our next toy, we received two brand new Skoodlez, soft plush characters with unique bean-bag hands and feet and each come with a Skoodle Story Coin, which has a special code granting access to Skoodlez.com. My son received an adorable tiger and my daughter got the fuschia hippo. The great thing about the website is that it offers some terrific activities and games that encourage critical thinking and it enables kids to create their own adventures for the characters. Plus the stuffed animals are very cute and stand out next to our ridiculously large webkinz collection.