I was on the phone with my sister last night for over an hour, generally cutting up and laughing about our childhood, when I told her something I have never told anyone else until now: In 4th grade, I was the pencil snapper.
Perhaps I was rebellious. Perhaps I was bored. Perhaps I was just a mean-spirited kid. I don't know. But for about two weeks, as the class would line up and leave the room for various reasons, I would stealthily snag a pencil off of one of my classmate's desks and break it in two. Then I would slyly replace it and, pretty as you please, file out of the room with the rest of the class. The class would return after music or lunch or whatever and the poor victim would clutch their broken pencil in agony and Ms. Turley would admonish the class that whomever was breaking the pencils must stop immediately or face dire consequences.
I never felt bad about snapping the pencils. 4th grade sociopath, I was. In fact, I never once blinked over the entire affair. I even snapped my own pencil once to divert any potential attention away from myself. But here the story gets worse. One day, as the class was leaving the room, Ms. Turley realized she forgot her keys and hustled back into the room to discover some kid named Jeremy still there. He didn't have a reason why he was still in the room after the rest of us filed out, so she made the only reasonable conclusion: he was the pencil snapper. He denied it, of course, but he was often in trouble, and was not a good student. He was not believed by Ms. Turley or anyone else. And I, to my shame and guilt that has followed me for 15 years, did not turn myself in in his place. I let him stew for pencils I snapped.
I know my parents read this blog, and I'm sorry that they have to find out this way, but I just had to confess. I'm sorry, 4th grade classmates, for snapping your pencils. It was mean and wrong. I'm sorry, Ms. Turley, for not obeying the class rule not to distrub another's things. But I'm sorry most of all, Jeremy, that I let you take the fall for me. I'm sorry you were not believed when you professed your innocence. I'm sorry you were punished for my wrongs. I'm sorry that I did not have the guts to set the record straight. I was raised better.
Yet even now I admit: I still get a guilty kick out of the sound of a new, freshly sharpened, no. 2 pencil going SNAAAAAP!
Add that to my therapy to-do list.