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Monday, February 20, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender

     “But, how can I tell if he likes me,” Sojourner asked her little circle of girlfriends one day at recess. We were looking at Ronny but trying not to be too obvious about it.
     “Well, he talks to you when we are in line, doesn’t he?”
     “And, he tries to stand next to you when we are waiting for our turn in the lunch line.”
     “Yes, he does but sometimes he tries not to stand next to me, too.” Sojourner was trying to assess their offerings of confirmation in light of her own remembered experiences.
     “What is important is that he notices you.” All of the ten- and eleven-year-old girls agreed and, though still not totally convinced, Sojourner slowly made her way to the just forming line at the doors of the upper end of the grade school.  Some towns had already put the sixth grade classes with the seventh and, though hers was not amongst them, it made the fifth grade students feel like a part of the “older” kids in their school. After all, their age had two numbers in it, not just one.

     The weeks passed and to see Ronny smile at her just threw Sojourner’s focus on studies off big time. He is noticing me and that is all that matters, right? Things were really going along well until one afternoon, Ronny’s attention took a new turn. The truly sad thing is that Ronny had no idea that his behavior did not show Sojourner he liked her!

     “Hi, Ronny!” Sojourner was taking her jacket off the hook in the cloakroom. At last, it was time for school to be over for the week.
      “Hi. Hey, I lost my pen. How ‘bout you gimme yours?” Ronny was looking at the pen Sojourner had just found in her jacket pocket, while she tried to remember why it was there and not in her desk.
     “I don’t know why it is in my pocket. It might be my mother’s pen.” Sojourner was wracking her brain to try to remember if her mother had handed her the pen when they were at the grocery store yesterday. Sojourner just could not recall why she  would have a pen in her  pocket.
     “Well, your mother doesn’t know you have it so gimme that pen. I need a pen.” Ronny grabbed for the pen but Sojourner turned to keep it away from him.
     “I will ask my mother. If she says you can have it, I will bring it to you on Monday.” Seemed like a reasonable plan to Sojourner but not so to Ronny. He lunged at her, pinned Sojourner’s arms against the empty coat rack and jerked the pen out of her hand. Sojourner was frightened and aware that they were the last ones in the room; there was no one to hear if she called for help. Ronny was laughing so Sojourner was confused as to his feelings. She was afraid and, definitely, not laughing. Was this a joke of some kind? Was this the way a boy might show a girl he liked her; he joked with her like this?
     Before Sojourner could answer the question, Ronny’s attention jumped from cruel teasing to violent action.


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