They Called Me ‘Bird Legs’
by Evelyn Horan
It was my first day of school. I was new. We had just moved here from another state. Everything was so different in this big city. I had come here from a small school. I felt lonely. I didn’t know anyone in the sixth grade (or any grade), but I walked around until I found my classroom, number 6.
Some kids were standing in line waiting for the teacher to come and open the door. The kids seemed to know one another. The boys and girls were laughing and talking about their summer. I stood at the back of the girls line, trying not to look lonely and feeling a little frightened.
The girl in front of me turned and smiled, “Hi,” she said. “I’m Alyssa.”
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Jeannie.”
“You’re new here,” Alyssa said. “I haven’t seen you before.”
I nodded. “Yes, I’m from out of state. My dad is a doctor, so we moved here when he received an offer for a new job.”
“I think you will like it here,” Alyssa said. “We are a friendly school.”
“That’s good to know,” I said.
“Mrs. Hansen lets us choose our own seats. Come and sit behind me,” Alyssa said.
I followed her into the attractive looking classroom with lots of autumn pictures stapled to the corkboard display board. A WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL in blue letters was printed on the blackboard to the right side of Mrs. Hansen’s desk.
It was a nice day at school. I had lunch with Alyssa. She introduced me to a few of her other friends. Then when school ended, a group of boys gathered together and stared at me. They were whispering among themselves and pointing at me, and giggling among themselves.
“Hey, Bird Legs,” a tall boy shouted loudly and pointed to me.
“Where did you get those skinny legs?” another boy yelled.
I had been hoping I wouldn’t hear those words in my new school. Alyssa and the other girls were so friendly.
“Dear Jesus,” I whispered. “Please help me to ignore those unkind boys.”
I walked away with my head down and hurried away from the school grounds as fast as I could.
I had wondered why my legs were so thin. When I asked Dad about it, he told me, “Someday when you become an adult, you will be glad you have slim legs. You will be a slim young lady, and you won’t have to diet to keep from putting on weight.”
Those were cheerful words, but it was hard to ignore boys who laughed and tried to make me feel bad, and I often felt sad.
“Jeannie, wait for me.” It was Alyssa hurrying up to me. “I gave those boys making fun of you a good talking to, about kindness to someone new to our school. I told them I would report them to the yard duty teacher if they kept it up,” she said, joining me at the bus stop. “We don’t allow bullying at our school, and they know it.”
Thanks, Alyssa,” I said, trying not to feel sad. “I’m glad you talked to them.”
“We are taking the same bus home” Alyssa said, as our bus approached. “Let’s exchange cell phone numbers, and I’ll give you a call this evening. We can talk about our homework together.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” I said, feeling better about things. I was glad I had met Alyssa and the other girls. I knew we were going to be good friends.
“Thank you, Jesus,” I whispered as we climbed the steps on the bus and sat down. “Thank You for giving me Alyssa to be my new friend, and thank You for helping me to get over feeling sad about what those boys said to me.”
Recently, I smiled and thought about Dad’s prediction when he told me about not having to worry about my weight when I became an adult. His prediction had come true about my skinny legs and my weight. I am no longer skinny and thin.
Evelyn Horan is a former teacher/counselor. Her articles and stories have been published many times in periodicals for children and adults in both secular and religious publications. She holds General Elementary, General Secondary, Pupil Personnel, and also School Psychologist life credentials in the state of California. Horan is the author of a number of books including Aging Requires a Gentle Attitude. Learn more about her work at http://www.authorsden.com/evelynhoran.