Straight Back, Crossed Arms and Legs


I was reminded today of being a child in primary school. I work with children and today we were playing a game of wink murder, a group favourite, during which they had to wait to be chosen to be either a detective or the murder. The leader in charge of the group had instigated a ‘no hands up’ selection process meaning that anyone with their hand up would not get chosen, in which case only good behaviour would be rewarded. It was at this point that every child, regardless of their behaviour up until this moment, sat up straight, legs and arms crossed, faces angelically lit up with potential for being the best behaved child in the room. As though anything that they had previously been told off for doing would be erased or expunged simply for those few seconds of idilic behaviour.
I know how they felt, when I was younger I held a similar opinion. Every week, each class would give out a certificate for exemplary behaviour or a specific achievement and every week I never got one. I was one of the quiet ones, the one who never did particularly well or badly, who never made any waves or noise (aside from “apparently” singing to myself in a quiet classroom) so I never qualified for one of the coveted certificates. However, when it came to sitting in assembly every week waiting to hear who got it, I would sit with the straightest back, most evenly held crossed arms and most decently crossed legs, hoping against hope that if my teacher saw how well I could sit (yes I know) then they might, just might, change their minds about who they should award the certificate to, that although I was quiet and essentially nothing special, academically any way, I deserved some recognition simply because I had good posture and behaved. All through primary school, the only certificate I ever got was one from the head teacher because one Mother’s Day I sent her a “head teachers day” card because I thought it was unfair that head teachers didn’t get a day or much recognition for all the hard stuff they had to do.
When I saw the reactions of the children this afternoon, I was reminded of how important it was to make some sort of good impression, for whatever reason, and the slightest thing can feel like it makes a huge difference when really it makes none at all, but you never really give up hope that the small gestures will one day be met with recognition and a sense of accomplishment, finally getting what we’ve been longing for.


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