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Fifth Grade Friendship Poll

by Judey Kalchik 10 months ago in Friendship
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The Search For Likes and Hearts Started Long Ago

Fifth Grade Friendship Poll
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I’m sitting on the closed toilet at home holding a creased and folded square of paper in my hands, afraid to open it.

It all started that morning. I’m 10 years old, new girl in, just transferred to this school. I have the fun teacher for homeroom, the one that likes to do crafts. The one that helps with the music program. That’s a plus.

I don’t know the kids in my class. There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood, but since we moved here just a week ago I haven’t met any of them yet. We sit alphabetically, and I’m on the side aisle of the room.

By National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

So I do what the big kids did in my old school.

I open my binder and carefully remove a sheet of pink-lined filler paper. Taking my time I neatly print out a question, and draw spaces for the answers.

Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No. Add your name and send it back to Judey

I fold the paper and send it down the aisle. I don’t watch it. I don’t see who opens it. I don’t see their reaction.

I sweat it out with my eyes firmly fixed on the teacher, waiting to get the note passed back to me.

When it finally returns it’s obviously been opened and refolded. I am afraid to open it. Until I read it the number of friends I now have is infinite. (Schrodinger’s Cat played out in elementary school.) I put it in my desk to read at home.

Throughout the day my fingers lift the desk lid ever so slightly and my hand slips in to check that it is still there. Yup; it’s there. Five minutes later I check again. There. It’s there. (Of course it’s there. I’m the only one that has been in my chair. This is a harbinger of the ‘did I unplug the curling iron’ torture that will haunt my adult years.)

Walking home, my secret is safe in my pocket. I rush inside the house and head to the only place that is ever truly (almost) private in our house. 6 people and 1 bathroom… and I’m in luck. It’s all mine.

I sit on the toilet and slowly unfold the note. Savoring the promise it holds. I wonder what their names are? I wonder if they live close to my house?

I didn’t need to wonder for long.

By Ashley West Edwards on Unsplash

It came back exactly as I sent it. No check marks. No names. No friends. No likes. I crumpled the paper and flushed away my shame.

It occurs to me that I haven’t changed that much. Maybe a little bit of that note-passing, friend-surveying 10-year old is still in there somewhere? I still send friend requests, only now it’s on social media. It’s easier, maybe, to send a question than pick up a phone. Than to walk across a room and start a conversation.

I have several ‘pages’ on Facebook that I’ve created, two blogs, a Twitter account, content created on two online platforms. Some days I notice a drop in the ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Was it something I wrote? Do I post too much? Not enough? It’s not relevant? Not funny enough? Not serious enough? I need more memes?

Kittens, maybe?

By The Lucky Neko on Unsplash

It can be very easy to dwell on the absence of interaction and acceptance. But I learned another lesson in that school. Once a week I showed up with a sash on, one with badges and pins. During our Girl Scout meeting we would often sing:

Make new friends but keep the old.

One is silver and the other gold.

Remembering that song I realize I’m already rich beyond measure, even if I never get another follower, ‘like’, or a check in the ‘YES’ box.


About the author

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, recipes, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

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