Confessions of a Middle-Grade Ninja.
Sixth grade ninja Snedly Higgins is in a bit of a pickle. In his mind, he's done everything he needs to do to win the school election. Heck, even the most popular kid in sixth grade is on his side. He should be a shoe in to win class President.
There's just one problem.
The big assembly, you know, the one where he gives his campaign speech in front of the school? Yeah, that one. And it's on Friday - which on its own, is not a problem - but you see, his ninja sword is at his Grandma's, and he has no way of getting it before the big day.
And he simply cannot give a speech with his sword. It's his mojo.
In the lead up to the assembly, Sned must survive a dodgeball game with his intense gym teacher Mr. Terrible, avoid Greg, Jeff and Lee (the meanest kids in his class), stay off Ms. Bennett's radar, and somehow find a way to retrieve his sword.
If he doesn't accomplish his mission, he will most surely faint in front of the whole school, and lose the election.
My name is Sned. I am a humble person who hates injustice. My plan is to install a really big pool with a hot tub in our gym, as well as a candy dispensing machine in the cafeteria. I believe that any leader of the school should be well trained in ninja tactics and swordsmanship, and as everyone knows, I am an expert in these areas. Unfortunately, my sword is at my grandma’s or you’d all be in for a real treat.
I finished typing and pressed print. In a few seconds, the library’s printer would spit out ten copies of the most awesomist campaign poster ever written. How could they not vote for me after they see this? Who wouldn’t want a ninja for class President? As my chair scraped along the floor, I jumped from my seat and scampered over to the printer. The whirring sound of it coming to life was the happiest sound I’d heard all morning. As the pages began to roll out one by one, I started to giggle. You know the ones that start low in your tummy and are really hard to contain? The giddy kind?
“Hey Sned,” said a voice from behind me, “How’s your poster coming along?”
Sawyer was the most popular kid in our school. Did you know that he can almost touch the basketball net if he tried? Earlier this year, during a student-teacher volleyball game, he spiked the ball so hard, it actually sent Ms. Venti, the school secretary to the office for an ice pack! Of course, there are not shortage of girls that give him the ‘dreamy’ eyes every day. I have it on good authority that at least three girls in our class have a crush on him. He’s pretty cool, that's for sure, but he’s not really that great a ninja. One of these days, I’ll have to show him a move or two, you know, be a real Sensei.
“Good,” I replied, grabbing the warm pages as soon they rolled out. I pressed them against my chest. “How about you?”
“Oh, they’re okay, I guess. I’m sure they’re not as good as yours though.” He smiled. It's true, they probably weren’t. So I just kept them hidden and said, “I’m sure they’re great.”
“Thanks, Sned. Good luck in the election.” He pulled his pages from the printer and headed back to his seat. I held my poster out in front of me, and looked it over. Yup. All good.
“Okay grade sixes, please log off your computer, and push in your chairs. We’re heading back to class.”
That was my teacher Ms. Bennett. She’s one of those teachers that everyone was afraid of, but secretly loved. Her “teacher look” was the scariest I’d ever seen. Oozing with venom, she’d have you back in your seat and scratching down the next boring math problem before you knew what hit you. With coffee cup in hand, we fell in behind her, and she lead us back to class. None of us dared to speak, letting only the sound of her high heels click-clacking down the polished hallway floor break the silence.
As we passed the main office, Ms. Kennedy, the support teacher, poked her head around the corner. “Well hello grade sixes!”
“Hello Ms. Kennedy,” we replied in unison.
Ms. Kennedy was always happy and goofing around. She and Ms. Bennett were besties and would always stop in the hallways to chat. They’d laugh and giggle about who knows what. From behind me, my best friend Abby leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “They’re probably talking about their next manicure.”
My heart began to race. Was she crazy? Ms. Bennett could hear everything! I sometimes think she is part ninja too. In an instant, the giggling between them stopped. Turning towards us, her face hardened. Oh boy, here it comes. I looked down at my feet, trying not to make eye contact.
“Um, excuse me, Abby. Did I say it was time to talk?”
“No, Ms. Bennett,” replied Abby.
“Abby, please come and stand beside me.”
“Great,” she groaned under her breath and shuffled to the front of the line.
Ms. Kennedy said goodbye and within minutes we’d arrived back in our classroom. I stuffed my campaign flyers in my desk and headed to my backpack. My dad promised he’d pack me a bag of Oreo's, but the only snack I could find was a dark spotted banana. It looked disgusting! I sighed heavily and reluctantly grabbed the fruit. Taking a seat on the bench outside the room I waited for Abby, assuming she'd survived the lecture from Ms. Bennett. When she emerged, I asked, "You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Whatever.”
“Ready to go?”
“Yup.” She looked down at my feet. “Seriously Sned, you can’t go outside with your indoor shoes on! Where are your outdoor shoes?”
“Stop bossing me around! Why does it matter?”
“Do you want to get in trouble? You know Mr. Sands will search for the culprit of the mud streaked floors, and you'll be on lunchroom duty for the next month!”
“Ugh, fine!” I kicked my shoe off and it slammed against the wall under the benches. Abby was always mothering me. I know she was just looking out for me, but, C'mon. This time though, she was right. Mr. Sands was forever polishing our floors, and he hated it when we tracked in mud. I pulled my outdoor shoes from underneath the bench.
“Can you hurry up? We’ve already missed five minutes of recess,” said Abby.
“Just go, I’ll meet you out there.”
Abby turned and walked away, grumbling the whole time. I finished tying my shoes and picked up my sloppy banana. As I backed into the door and the fresh October air hit my face, I realized I hadn’t put on my coat. And I had to go to the bathroom.
I crept back to the main hall and peeked around the corner. Thankfully it was quiet. If Ms. Bennett saw me in the school during recess, I’d be sunk. That’d be a detention for sure, and who’s going to elect a delinquent for class president? With the coast clear, I headed for my coat, but the happy smell of Ms. Bennet’s saffron perfume rounded the corner before she did and gave me a quick heads up. In a second, she’d turn the corner and those electric eyes would burn right through me. With a quick about face, I sprinted for the bathroom. I sure that she was morphing into the wicked witch of the west, about to jump on her broom stick and chase me down. I could almost hear her scream, “I’ve got you now my pretty!”
Luckily for me, I reached the bathroom door, and pushed through, just before she rounded the corner. Unfortunately, someone had made a mess on the floor, and my feet disappeared from beneath me, and I landed flat on my back. Staring up at the tiled ceiling, I was laying in a pool of the most disgusting substances known to man. Certainly nothing could be more gross than a boys bathroom floor. My tailbone ached. I slowly sat up, examining my body parts. My elbow felt like it was the size of a tennis ball.
At my feet I spied the culprit. Someone had spilt fire-roasted mushrooms on the floor. How could they be so careless? I mean, aside from wasting such a delicious treat, those suckers were like ice. I shook my head at the carelessness of some kids. Climbing to my feet, I headed for the sink. In the mirror, my round cheeks were bright red and my dusty brown hair was a complete mess. If anyone found about this, I’d be the laughing stock of the school.
I headed for one of the stalls. Closing the door behind me, I sat on the seat. No way I was going back to class smelling of bathroom disgustingness. It was settled then. I would just stay here until the end of the day and after the bell rung - and everyone went home- I would quietly slip into the hallway, grab my coat and bag and walk home. And as soon as I got there, I would burn these clothes.
The recess bell came and went, and few other boys came in and used the bathroom, paying me no mind. They threw water on each other and were acting like clowns. I sat quietly, peeking through the tiny space between the stall door and watched them leave. It didn’t take long for the one person I would never want to see me in here, to walk through the door.
“Sned?” said Sawyer. “You in here?”
I didn’t want to answer. Sawyer was not someone I wanted to tell about this, but what choice did I have?
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Are you okay? Ms. Bennett is asking for you.”
“Oh. Well…that’s okay.”
“I don't want to come back. Everyone will make fun of me.”
“Nah, nobody will even notice. Ms. Bennett gave us a ton of work to do. They’ll all be so busy, I bet they don’t even see you come in. I can distract them to if you want.”
“Thanks Sawyer, but it's okay.”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Oaky, so i’ll tell Ms. Bennett you’re on your way?”
Sawyer left, but I waited until I was sure he was gone before opening the stall. Reluctantly, I headed back to class, shuffled down the hallway, like I was a on a death row march. Up ahead, Ms. Bennett stepped out from the doorway of our room and spots me. Great.
“Sned, what happened? What are you late?”
“I slipped on something in the bathroom. I think it was a fire-roasted mushroom.”
Then she gave me the look. You know, the look. The one grown-ups give you when they think you’re lying. “I see,’ she said. “and are you okay?”
Looking down at the floor, I nodded..
“Alright. Well, get to work. You’re already behind.”
As soon as I stepped into the room, everyone looked up at me, just like I know they would. I skulked back to my desk, ashamed. I’m sure they could all smell the urine on my sweater. I sure could. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, in hopes that I might go unscathed, but it was not be. It was Greg, the meanest kid in the fifth grade, and a thorn in my side. Of course he would be the one to say something.
“Hey Snedly, what happened? Did you fall in?”
The whole class laughed. Well, at least it felt like the whole class laughed. It was all I could do to keep from crying, but that would be the worst thing I could do right now. Greg and his goons would have a field day at recess with that one. Thankfully, Ms. Bennett was there to rescue me. “Greg, get out. Take your work with you.”
No two words ever sounded so sweet.
Greg stood, packed his books and walked out of the classroom, sentenced to work alone in the hall. This was a common punishment for him though. Ms. Bennett didn’t put up with his antics, and I loved it when she put him in his place.
I sat at my desk, which was across from Abby’s. Our eyes met, and she furrowed her brow. I just shook my head. Now was not the time. I pulled my math books from my desk and opened the textbook to the pages Ms. Bennett assigned. We were studying patterning rules. Ugh. Could this be any more boring.
My head wasn’t in it. I slumped back into my chair, and peeked into my desk. Quickly checking to make sure Ms. Bennett wasn’t watching, I pulled out my ninjago figure. If anyone knew how to turn things around, it was Sensei Wu. The past is the past, the future is yet to come. We must make the most of today.
Alright Sensei Wu, I’ll make the most out of today. But it hasn’t gotten off to a great start.