In elementary school, I fit the stereotype for homeschoolers. I was awkward looking with buck teeth and freckles, I wore hand-me-down and homemade (by my mom, not me, thankfully) clothes, and I could recite 132 Bible verses in four days at Neighborhood Bible Time.
I’m sure I was mocked relentlessly behind my back. Luckily, there is a bad stigma about insulting a homeschooler to her face. Even Satan or Chelsey Lately couldn’t do it w/o a twinge of guilt. Because of this, I was blissfully unaware of anyone making fun of me. Until sixth grade.
At my own church, I was a fixture. I had been there since 2nd grade and no one was going to make fun of me now. It was too late. But when you’re the new girl, all bets are off. The summer before sixth grade, I started going to my friend Sarah’s church on Wednesday nights for Master’s club. Master’s club is like a cross-breed of AWANA and Girl Scouts. It was there that I quickly acquired a nickname of “chicken legs.”
I was skinny, so at first I thought it was because of that. But as weeks went on, the nickname became accompanied by snickers and sometimes even pointing. My eyes followed a point one day down to my legs. And I saw something I hadn’t realized before. They were sprouting hair. Blond as it was, it was still rather noticeable – that’s how long it had become. In fact, I remember comparing my hair w/my older brother’s once, and I think I had him pretty well beat. Something had to be done.
I asked my mom if I could shave my legs. She said I was too young for that. So I pulled out my Friskars and trimmed them. Although it was a little better, the hair was still there, glistening in the sun. Sure, it was shorter, but I needed it gone. So the next Wednesday after dinner, I finished dinner early and ran upstairs. My parents should have been suspicious, because on pasta night, I always loitered around the dinner table until everyone else had left and I could gobble up what was left of the buttery noodles.
But this night, I had an agenda. I wasn’t going to Master’s club again until I addressed the chicken legs issue. So I pulled out my dad’s navy blue bic razor. I knew nothing about shaving cream or water, so I rubbed the dry razor up and down my legs in a frenzy, nervously watching the door to make sure no one was approaching. I finished, and gave a quick glance of approval at my now patchily haired legs. Much better. But when I was replacing dad’s bic in the precise spot I had found it, I noticed long blond hairs on the blade very obviously contrasting his stubby black whiskers.
There wasn’t a towel, and I heard dishes clammoring, so I ran my index finger across the blade to hide the evidence. Blood gushed from my finger like Old Faithful. I grabbed a Band-Aid. I bled right through it. I replaced it, then grabbed four more to tie me over for the rest of the night. All through Master’s club, my finger bled. I wondered how much blood you need more blood pumped into your body. I was in such agony over my finger all night that I didn’t even notice if anyone had seen my freshly shorn legs. I don’t even know if anyone called me chicken legs or pointed or laughed.
On the ride home, mom noticed me sucking on my finger and asked what had happened. I confessed. I knew there would be consequences, but I also thought of how had I not done this, the pain never would’ve happened. After all, she tried to protect me, it was me who hurt myself. That Christmas, I opened up an present – an electric razor. I still have it, actually. I don’t think any female has used an electric razor since 1996 (and that was me), but I just can’t part with it. Maybe I’ll give it to my daughter one day, the summer before she enters sixth grade.
But then again, since my daughter won’t be homeschooled, maybe I should give it to her the summer before kindergarten.