My preschool class had this really cool dinosaur play area. Dinosaurs of many different types, colors, and sizes were kept in a box next to a mat with designs of trees, rivers, and other natural land features. If my high school had a dinosaur play area, I’d still hang out there all the time. (Can we petition that–to put a dinosaur play area in every high school? Come on, let’s do this!) Because I was not confined to the inaccurate and unfair gender stereotypes that state that little girls can’t play with trucks, trains, and other “boy toys,” I spent a good amount of play time there.
My favorite dinosaur was a smallish green T-Rex. It wasn’t hard plastic like the others; it was squishy and probably rubber. One day, I saw two other little boys playing in the dinosaur area. Naturally, I wanted to join in their game. I dug through the dinosaur box and found my special squishy friend.
“Can I play with you?” I asked, placing my dinosaur’s feet on the play mat.
I was crushed. Nobody (at least not that I can remember) had ever refused to let me play with them before. Rejected, I sat at the other end of the mat and fiddled with my little T-Rex all alone.
A similar thing happened a year later, in pre-kindergarten. Instead of dinosaur play mats, however, it was an issue of a fifth birthday party invitation. Two girls were talking about a fun Powerpuff Girl-themed celebration, complete with a moon bounce, balloons, and cake. Excited (though I had no interest in the Powerpuff Girls), I approached the two girls.
“Can I come to the party?”
This time, however, the teacher had to interfere.
“You have to let Abigail come to your party.”
I did end up being invited. The only thing I remember is falling over, accidentally rolling upside-down on the moon bounce and then feeling embarrassed, and being disappointed that the birthday girl didn’t open her presents until after the guests had left.
Some similar type of event happened each year after that. You know, like always being the very last one picked for schoolyard sports games in fifth and sixth grade. Things of that nature. Each year had its own squishy dinosaur event.
Speaking of that squishy dinosaur, I think I may have one just like it in my house somewhere.