By Megan Hanlon
It was a historic day for second-grade students at local schools on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Two classes of resolute 7- and 8-year-olds headed to the polls to answer to one of the most pressing good-behavior-award questions of our time: should we celebrate with a pajama day, or one extra recess?
After the nominees had been announced, a trio of girls canvassed the cafeteria, campaigning hard for the chance to show off their new LOL Doll nightgowns. The boys protested: in midwest Novembers, it’s too cold to play outside in a thin layer of fire-retardant polyester. Legs might freeze, running speeds would surely be affected. We would band together in a bloc, and out-vote the girls.
Alliances were made and broken on the playground the day before the election. Most deliberations happened under the side-by-side slides, away from teachers’ prying eyes, where debates devolved into name-calling of “fart-face” and “booger-eater.” Somebody threw a shoe. That afternoon, as we headed for the pick-up lines, a rumor spread that some incriminating “old math” work had been found on the school-issued Chromebook of a pro-pajama student who was at home doing distance learning, but no one could provide proof.
Election Day finally arrived, and a divided electorate cast their votes. Afterward the teacher administered a spelling test and supervised inventive coloring of some American flag handouts, so ballots couldn’t be counted immediately. Some voter signatures couldn’t be verified because we had only learned to write e, l, i, and t in cursive. Those ballots were thrown out. A few students argued all the way to the principal’s office, but she said it was out of her jurisdiction and remanded the case back to the teacher. Everyone went to bed tense that night without a winner.
The next day, we scheduled a conference during recess in the parking lot by the gardening shed, but nobody showed up. They had heard the kindergarteners were issued new bouncy balls on the other side of the parking lot, and those got all the attention.
By the close of the school day on Wednesday, Nov. 4, the teacher called it: pajama day won. The winners rejoiced the rest of the day, but we were sullen and bitter. The election must have been rigged — someone must have stuffed the ballot box with fake entries. There was no other explanation.
During the next nine days, we had a lot of self-reflection to do. Nothing made sense anymore. We were told to reach across our desks and embrace the opposition, but how? How could classmates we know and love — friends we play cops and robbers with every day — choose cold, stupid pajamas over an entire bonus recess? Who votes against their own interests?
Friday, Nov. 13, was the day of reckoning. With grim determination, we put on our orange gamer-dino PJ set, because we are gracious losers, and trudged off to school. We only complained a little.
About the Author
Megan Hanlon is a work-at-home-mom and recovering journalist who grew up in Texas but accidentally moved to Ohio. She shares her life with a husband, two children, and a disobedient Boston terrier. Read more at http://sugar-pig.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter at @sugarpigblog.