When I was in fifth grade I went on this Girl Scout camp-out somewhere, I don’t really remember. When I came back, I had this horrible rash all over my arms and legs.
It was really strange. We assumed it was poison ivy, just because I had been outside in the wilderness all weekend, so my mom took me to the doctor. The doctor said it might be poison ivy, but the rash should have been all over my body, not just my arms and legs. He gave me this allergy medicine to take, but it didn’t really do anything.
So we went to a family friend who was also a doctor. She told us that there was no reason I should be taking this allergy medicine for poison ivy and gave me other stuff to take. I was really thankful for that because the allergy medicine tasted really bad.
But this new medicine made my arms swell up. And my face. And I already have a chubbier face (it was really chubby when I was in fifth grade). I was pretty self-conscious about it. So when I started taking this new medicine, even though it made the rash go away, it made it much more obvious to my classmates that something was wrong.
I was worried people were going to make fun of me because my face was so chubby. My mom tried to help lighten the mood. It was the morning of April first, April Fools Day, when I was going back to school. She and I made up ridiculous stories to tell people when they asked what was wrong with my face.
“I got in a fight with a chipmunk, and now my cheeks are chubby too.”
That’s what I told my fellow fifth graders. And some of them actually believed me. But I hated that people kept asking me about it. I hated that they pitied me for having chubby cheeks. Even my teachers had over-the-top reactions to my condition.
Later in the day we played a prank on our LEAP teacher. Her classroom was in a portable building, one of those outside, shed-looking things. Instead of going inside the classroom when it was time for class, we ran around the back. One person sat inside to tell our teacher that we all ran away when she showed up.
Our teacher found us all snickering behind the building mere minutes later. We thought we were so clever. She saw us through the window. Thankfully, our teacher thought we were hilarious.
Soon after that my day began to go downhill. Like I had feared, people began making fun of me for what had happened to my face. They didn’t mean to do it maliciously. They just honestly thought it was funny. But a kid’s sense of humor can be debilitating.
I told my teacher that I had a headache and needed to go to the nurse. My mom had told me before school that if I ever wanted to go home, if I was way too self-conscious about my face, that I could just call her and leave. My teacher let me go to the nurse, then I told the nurse basically what my mom told me. (Except instead of telling her I was self-conscious I told her that I had a really bad headache and my mom had told me this morning that if it got worse I could go home.) The nurse was obviously suspicious, but she called my mom and let me go home.
The next day the swelling went down, and none of my friends or classmates ever mentioned that day again, except when reliving the prank we played on our LEAP teacher.