We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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It was just a normal day after school. I got my homework done and went to a friend's house. When I got there, there were two kids instead of just one. There was a new kid whose name was Tommy. We played kickball and I immediately did not like him. I was irritated to be around him. He had a bad aura. I was annoyed that he was joining our game. I don't even know why I did not like him because he did nothing wrong. He also did not like me, we did not even know why. The next day, he was at my friend’s house again. We were going to play baseball and the same thing happened that happened the day before, unexplained animosity. I found out he lived across the street and had just moved in. At one point we were getting along but the next day it went back to the same distrust and dislike.  That was one long summer. He was there every day. All summer long, we had our differences. We fought and called each other names. He was so hard to get along with and we disagreed about everything. When we did get along we would find something to hate about each other. Were we enemies? At least when summer ended I wouldn’t have to see him so much.

I couldn’t believe that on the first day of fifth grade, he was in my class. There were three teachers and I got put in the same class as him! He had also just switched schools so he was new and a lot of people liked him right away. I mean,  I was going to that school all my life and I would not even get acknowledged. I could feel the awkwardness and the hatred in the air. We would not work in a group together or as partners on any school project or assignment. I don't know if our teacher could tell that we did not like each other. I know other people did, and I think it became a thing that other people would talk about too. He was unavoidable and inescapable; it was like a prison with no way out. It felt like we saw each other everywhere. He was always put on the same team as me in the gym. I would also see him at the store sometimes. We lived the same lives like we were brothers from another mother.

After so much time hating each other it’s hard to say what event was the turning point. Halfway through fifth grade, there was a breakthrough. We declared a truce, a ceasefire, an armistice. When we set aside our animosity and finally got to know each other. We figured that we were going to be in the same class for the rest of the year and we should put the past behind us.

Turns out we had everything in common. He liked video games. I liked video games. He liked skateboarding and I liked skateboarding. He liked to just chill and so did I. We had everything in common so it turned out we would be the best of friends if we would just put the past behind us. It took a while to get used to hanging out, but now we are best of friends. We hang out every day and play video games all night, every night. How can you go from hated enemies to best friends? It’s not magic. It just takes a pause. Stopping meant talking and discovering all that we had in common and not just judging them without knowing them. We also still have our differences, but we learn to get around them.

© Alex Holthaus. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.