Oh yeah – his place in the pecking order. 3rd Grade I felt like a level zero in the pecking order. But thankfully, after a year of walking home saying, “stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”, by 4th grade, I knew I only had to _pretend_ to be a Level Zero around certain people because _they_ didn’t deserve to know *just* how high a level I really was.
Even then I knew that “sticks + stones” was BS – because names (like “Level Zero”) *do* hurt… but the magic was the shield it gave me, “It really *is* “Just Words”” – an early subjective lesson in Semantics, or disassociating words from having any intrinsic meaning.
For me, it was “Nerd” (girl/geek/fag – they were all interchangeable in 3rd grade). I learned they could call me whatever they liked – they didn’t define “me”. I defined me. I got PLENTY of opportunities to practice the defense mechanism a *lot*… because kids are cruel and teachers were blase to it all. [still working on that “defining myself” part… didn’t know it would become a *lifelong* endeavor ]
Thank you The layers, bundles and complexities of meaning that are wrapped up in a single word or phrase that has emotional impact is something I’ve been unraveling and untangling for a lifetime so far.
In the movie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” this is represented by “The Cheese Touch” – an old piece of cheese that has been stuck on the playground since time immemorial. If you touch the cheese, you are an outcast from society, an untouchable, ignored, avoided, a social pariah, shunned, etc.
It’s a feeling that we can all relate to and I loved how that book/movie symbolizes it in that piece of moldy cheese. My nephew loves the series [he’s 4th grade]