I was late for my first day of 4th grade because I didn't want to go. Have no idea why. I was crying, though, and I just felt upset about it for some reason. I guess I was just really nervous.
4th grade is the year Erin came to my school. She and I were pretty much best friends for several years. She had a big family, and I spent a lot of time at her house. She always had sleepovers and parties with all of the girls in our class. We would toilet paper houses. We prank called people. We went "snipe hunting" and walked to boys' houses. She probably wasn't the best influence on me, but I loved that she moved to town and that we became friends.
There was this really cute boy in our class, and our desks were next to each other. He told me he was moving to another school. I said, "Good!" Funny I said that because he was really cute. I hadn't quite figured out the whole "boy" thing yet.
In fact, this was the first year I ever said "yes" when a boy asked me to "go with him." (I had my K-2nd grade little crush Jason, but that was more of an understood thing, nothing we ever made official.)
We were on a field trip to Fantastic Caverns. On the bus, Brent asked me if I would "go" with Ryan C. I think I said I would think about it, and I finally worked up the nerve and said, "Yes." We either sat by each other on the bus or on the tram inside the cave. And then he bought me a ruby birthstone ring at the gift shop. That was the extent of our relationship. I think the next day I totally blew him off and said I wanted to break up or whatever. Primarily because I was still very embarrassed about liking boys. He demanded his ring back. He and Brent were teamed up on the playground, and Erin was standing with me. I said I didn't have it anymore - that I threw it away. Brent was saying, "You better give him his ring!" And Erin would defend me, "She doesn't have it!"
I still have that ring to this day. And I still talk to Ryan C. occasionally (He's an amazing tattoo artist), and I think the world of him.
This was the first year I played on a sports team. We were the Dixie team, and we played games in Marionville. I can't say we were that great, and I definitely can't say I was that great. I always wanted to be athletic. I was decent enough to exist on a team - I could dribble, shoot, whatever - but I never fully understood the "plays." Like "zone defense." I was a cheerleader for years, I've watched my brother in a countless number of games, and even today, I proudly watch Illini games with my husband. Still can't tell you what zone means or understand precisely where everyone is supposed to be on the court and why. That's Erin with her arm around me. Angie (on the other side of me), I completely forgot you were on that team. (We weren't really friends then, but she is one of my best friends today.)
It was around this age that I first realized that I wanted to have a relationship with Christ. It was just something I always felt inside of me, nothing I ever wrestled with. My grandparents were pastors, and we attended their church a lot when I was really young. As I got a little bit older, and my grandparents moved away, my family started going to another church in town. They had a fair amount of kids, and I remember having fun in the basement, singing songs and listening to Bible stories. The one thing I hated - HATED - was this song they put you on the spot with. The leader, in a really excited way, would say, "Jenny, do you love Jesus?"
And then I was supposed to sing back - IN FRONT OF EVERYONE - "Yes, I love Jesus!"
"Jenny, do you love Jesus?"
"Yes, I love Jesus!"
"Tell me why do you love Jesus?"
"Becaaause he fiiiirst loved me!"
Well, I can tell you who DID NOT sing a reply. I just SAT there, horrified that I was being asked to sing on the spot in front of a room full of people. (Plus, the song gets really high, and I'm clearly an alto.) That was cruel and unusual punishment for me. And even the waiting, wondering if your name was going to be picked. Ugh. Yes, I loved Jesus. But I was so incredibly shy I wouldn't have wanted to say my NAME in front of a group of people, let alone SING MY FEELINGS for all to hear.
Sometime around 4th grade (give or take a year), my family took a trip to Mansfield, Missouri to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum. I absolutely loved this. (I went back with Ryan and Tornado for my birthday one year, probably 8 years ago.) One day, after my kids read the books, I plan on doing the whole Laura Ingalls tour - visit all of her old homes or landmarks...I can't wait.
I have a few other vague 4th grade memories floating around - like representing my class at the spelling bee held at my former school - but I'm getting sleepy. Heading off to watch 24 with my husband in bed...