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Dear Food Network

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Literary Buffoonery
Tuesday, February 17, 2004   |    Fiction

Writers-on-Writing Month

‘Snotwatch’ by Heidi J.

Rejoice! Behave! Be Strong and Play Fair!

A Call for a New Era of Being Nice to Everybody, and a Schoolyard That Will Support It

By Heidi J.
Ms. Weisenstock’s Third-Grade Class

Discussed: Name-Calling, Sticks & Stones, Allergies, Cootie Shots, Presidents’ Week, Social-Studies Fair, the Goldfish in the Pocket Book, Wonder Woman, Capri Sun, Snot

There is a really big problem going on in the schoolyard. I fear that playtime has become just an opportunity for some kids to call other kids names, like “Heidi JonLovitz” or “Heinie You-love-tits,”1 and for some boys to pull on girls’ pigtails, and for people to declare “cooties” on somebody who really doesn’t have cooties at all2 , and for some kids to say somebody farted and make everybody run away from them in the schoolyard, even though it was one of the kids who said it that farted, and not the innocent person who got all the blame for it.

This is calling cooties for cooties’ sake—or even worse, flicking boogers for boogers’ sake. This mean, stinky behavior is so second grade. I know that anybody who makes fun of you isn’t really your friend, and “sticks and stones” and all that, but still, I think the mean kids should know they’re hurting people’s feelings.

Like yesterday, when Billy and John G. and Anthony were all saying how Melissa F. was in love with Mr. Riggetti and wanted “to have his babies” just because she volunteered to stay during lunch and help decorate the bulletin board for Presidents’ Week, and everybody was pointing and laughing and singing that K-I-S-S-I-N-G song and making Melissa feel bad. Why would people think that she wanted to marry Mr. Riggetti3 instead of thinking that maybe she just really likes presidents? Don’t you all remember the diorama she made of Abraham Lincoln going to see a play? It only won first place in the social-studies fair! (And her mom didn’t even help her, like some people’s moms did … Lauren C.! Cheater!)

Anyway, I call this wanton name-calling and feelings-hurting ‘Snot.’ I call Snot on you, Gary, for making Sally feel so bad when her hamster got accidentally vacuumed up by her cleaning lady. I call Snot on you, Billy, for calling Roger gay just because he wanted to play “Wonder Woman.” I call Snot on you, Gary, again, for putting mud in Jenny’s lunchbox, and it was especially Snotty because you know she’s got allergies, and so she couldn’t even share anybody else’s lunch and her mom had to come and bring her a new lunch, and also because you got dirt in her hair. I hate you, Gary.

Also, I think everybody needs to remember that the displays in the hallway are there for everyone to enjoy. They may not be the best paintings ever but everyone tries their hardest. Do we not get rewarded for trying anymore? What is worse, to try and fail or to never try at all and just make fun of those that do (and squirt CapriSun down their shirts!)? I think the second one is worse because I always try really hard and I think that people should appreciate that instead of saying my painting of the Pilgrims looked like retarded penguins! And certain people have to stop squirting Capri Sun all over me! Why? Why are you always doing that, Bradley? (And, just for the record, it wasn’t me who told on you for putting the goldfish in Ms. Weisenstock’s pocket book, but I’m glad you got caught! Because kids who are mean to animals grow up to be loners and psycho killers. I hope it goes on your permanent record! )

You guys are all rude and mean and I don’t like it! Nobody likes it! Why can’t the children of Ms. W’s third-grade class just get along and play nice? We should all hold hands and sing songs and play like well-behaved young ladies and gentlemen.

Finally, I would hope to urge readers—and, by extension, writers—to reach beyond their usual notions of what is accessible or possible, whatever that means. I love George Orwell.

1 And other names, much worse, that I’m not allowed to repeat. (Hint: one uses the ‘B’ word.)
2 Also, that’s being insensitive to those who have body lice, which is really a problem for some people. And “Circle-circle-dot-dot-dot” doesn’t really work as a cootie shot, you know. Real cootie shots use needles!
3 Ewww! Gross! He’s so hairy!