When I was in grade five life was simpler. In math we learned about place value and had to memorize the difference between hundreds and hundredths. We read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe chapter by chapter and I got my mom to help me with the homework questions. We had lockers, but they didn’t have locks. My biggest worry was about improving my French pronunciation. And recess was all about four square. My classmates and I drew the lines in chalk every day—so often that the school eventually decided to paint permanent lines on the pavement. We thought that being the king of four square was the most important thing ever. But before we knew it four square was out. We had moved on to other things. Another year grounders was the big thing and another year it was chess. Some things we thought would last forever ended up being relatively short-lived in the grand scheme of things.
But that can be hard to foresee, especially when we’re young. Just consider fifth grader Jesse Aarons from the novel Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. In Jesse’s little world success means being the fastest runner in his class. With that one goal in mind he trains hard for the whole summer, waking up first thing to go running. He comes back all sweaty from his morning runs just in time to milk Miss Bessie the cow. His sisters complain about him smelling bad after his runs, but that doesn’t bother Jesse too much. Better to be known as the runner than as the “crazy little kid that draws all the time.”
Jesse Aarons, or Jess as people call him, returns to Lark Creek Elementary after the summer break expecting things to go his way. He imagines himself running across the finish line to the cheers and applause of his fans. His little sister May Belle will celebrate him as the winner. His classmates won’t pick on him for sketching all the time. And his dad will forget about work and spend time with him like the good old days. He’s going to make everyone so proud. After all, being the fastest kid in grade five is a pretty big deal.
David Raphael Hilder
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