I spent a semester in a public school kindergarten. Back then we not only prayed before we had our snack of milk and graham crackers (“God is great, God is good, and so we bless Him for this food”) but we had a nap during class time.
This entailed lying down on floor mats. My teacher, who happened to have somewhere procured a magic wand, came up with the unusual idea of a “Nap Fairy.”
The Nap Fairy was a child designated to take wand in hand and go around the room, rousing the other students from their sleepy stupor. We kids, not knowing any better, just ate up stuff like this, especially since the first person awoken each day got to be the Nap Fairy the next day. What a privilege!
Back then I was actually popular. One of the reasons was because I was the only student in the class who could read and that was looked upon with some awe. I got to be the Nap Fairy a lot.
One day when it was again my turn, however, the teacher pulled me aside. There was a boy in the class (I don’t recall his name, but we’ll call him Bobby) who wasn’t well liked. Frankly, I didn’t like Bobby either but only because he was a boy. Bobby, unfortunately, was so unpopular even among the other boys that he had never been picked to be the Nap Fairy. Couldn’t I, the teacher pleaded, wake Bobby first so he could have a turn?
This was not something I wanted to do. My best friend had chosen me the day before, and I was prepared to return the favor. Worse, waking Bobby first was bound to give him the false impression that I liked him. Yup, I was one selfish little brat.
But I also couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Bobby. So I acquiesced and, magic wand in hand, awakened him.
I still remember the look of astonishment on his face when he realized that not only had he been woken first, but the most popular girl in the class had done it. And, of course, he could not contain his exhilaration but had to brag to all the other boys.
As I had expected, there was a price to pay. The next time we went out to recess, I was informed that Bobby and I were
Sitting in a tree,
First comes love, then comes marriage
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.
Oh, the humiliation! I couldn’t wait for it to die down.
That day Bobby was the Nap Fairy. I could not sleep. The whole time I kept thinking Don’t pick me. Please, please, please. Pick one of the other boys. Whatever you do, don’t pick me!
He picked me.
By the next recess, we were not only kissing in a tree and having a baby, we’d been ardent lovers for years, probably more years than we had been alive.
Because Bobby had chosen me, the day after that I was the Nap Fairy again. I picked my best friend.
And that, finally, put an end to the teasing.
In the Bible, St. James tells us “If you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9) Back then I was far too young to understand the implications of treating someone as an outcast. All I understood was the price I had to pay for my compassion, a price I was not willing to pay twice.
Well, within a few years, I was the outcast bullied by the other students. And almost no one was willing to show me even the little compassion I had shown Bobby.
Unfortunately, partiality is something even a magic wand can’t fix.