It was just a regular day of recess. The entire first grade was outside, forming secret clubs and pledging eternal friendship. It was springtime, a lackadaisical time when kids were full of hope; hope of summer, hope of extra recess, and hope of growing an apple tree. These kids were kids I had been playmates with all year; many of them had been my friends even in kindergarten.
We had spent the majority of the school year digging a hole, and then one day at lunch, an idea struck: we would plant an apple seed from one of the apples from lunch into the hole, and we mutually took care of the tree, trusting in the club members to check on its development and to help protect it from any outsiders of the club. And so it was that I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
I was suddenly summoned to see the substitute teacher. I was surprised, as what reason would she have to call for me? I hadn’t done anything wrong, I was a good kid. I hadn’t so much as gotten a warning all year. Then, she told me that three of my classmates professed that I had kicked each of them in their necks; after she informed me who it was, I was shocked. I had done no such thing; one of them was even taller than I was! I protested, but it was of no use. The suspect’s denial was nothing compared to three kids all asserting the same thing. Apparently, the substitute even felt the need to inform at least one of the intimidating second grade teachers about the incident, since one terrified me by saying that I “could get suspended”. In contrast to the way they treated me, teachers were comforting the students, asking them how they felt and if they wanted to go to the nurse's office. They then sent me off to the office.
Once I arrived at the front office, I sat into one of the plush maroon chairs they had waiting for me. I sat there for a time crying, while adults kept sitting down next to me, asking if I was okay, and then inquiring if I was there for the guidance counselor, and if not for that then why was I there. Eventually a fellow classmate came along with a note explaining what "happened", which was given to the secretary for passage to an administrator.
The vice principal came around shortly thereafter, and she then took me to her office to talk about what happened. Meanwhile I started crying again and after denying it for a time, deemed it useless and just started nodding my head to her admonishing. She repeatedly told me how I should not repeat my actions in a similar way, and tried to instill a sense of empathy for my actions, with statements such as “imagine how those others felt when you kicked them”
The principal led me to yet another dreary room, which contained a large table with hard plastic chairs around it. Three other students were sitting on those chairs already with their heads down, one of them my fellow classmate Kayla. I joined them, still sniffling from the injustice of it all as I laid my head down. After what seemed an eternity, but in reality could not have been much more than ten minutes, I was finally released.
The next day, at recess, one of the "kicked" people owned up to the lie. One of the kids outside of my circle of friendship was promising friendship to several of the club members in return for getting me in trouble. Unfortunately, no declarations of guilt were told to any adults, so my only solace was that I was right.