“At least I didn’t get kept back”
I thought I was the smartest kid, and that was my flaw. Any- one below my level of intellect was a weak link. I saw myself as superior to those who were amateur in something I excelled in. I was in the fourth grade and my sister got the brunt of it.
Camille was a great sister, my twin sister. She was two inches shorter than me and pretty funny. It was the summer between third and fourth grade when things shifted. “You didn’t pass the third grade?” I heard our older sister say to Camille. I gasped.
Camille had most likely responded, but with a shameful set- back like that, I didn’t expect an audible response. She had been kept back and I could tell she felt bad. I felt bad...we all did.
The subject died later that day. It wasn’t the end of the world.
All she had to do was redo the grade and soldier on.
Everything went back to normal as the months passed. But, of course, that made me superior in more ways. I was taller, bigger, and smarter. What I hadn’t noticed was a habit I was developing.
A year later, each time we would argue, I’d always bring up the fact that she was kept back in the third grade. I thought it didn’t matter. I remember getting into trouble with my parents one day. Camille was rubbing her freedom in my face as she watched me in my room, grounded. It was an innocent tease since the punishment was minor.
All I remember was saying, “At least I didn’t get kept back.” I recall seeing her smile disappear. For the rest of the school year, I taunted her and made her feel at her absolute lowest.
I wouldn’t wish that type of degradation on anyone, but I was nine and oblivious and mean.
Recently, I’ve gotten to talk to my sister about the issue. Yes, we laughed. There were lots of “oh yeahs” and “I remembers.” I also apologized several times during our conversation.
I asked her how she felt even though I knew. “I felt bad. I felt kind of stupid.” I always hated when people emphasized my weaknesses. There was no reason for me to do that to my own blood.
She told me she understood, that we were kids then and I didn’t really know what I was doing. “But how you felt was real,” I said. “It happened. And it was my fault.”
I didn’t want the conversation to get too deep but I had to learn something. Something along the lines of confronting my mistakes and giving rest to past troubles.
The last thing she said to me was, “But hey, it’s over. Now my grades are way better than yours.”
I guess I did deserve that.