I blame my overly anxious need for acceptance on Romper Room. Do you know it? Did you ever watch it? Romper Room was a syndicated and franchised preschool learning program that was popular in the 1970s. Before Nick Jr., before Sprout, before Playhouse Disney, we watched Romper Room.
The structure of the program was similar to modern preschool television shows. It was an interactive show in which the hostess encouraged the studio children to learn and grow. Many episodes focused on fitness and nutrition, and of course, in every episode the children had a lesson in either numbers or letters. To me, the most important part of the program was the ending when the hostess would look through the magic mirror to see if all of the children had fun that day. She would then name children. “I see Sally, Billy, Tommy, and Joe. I see Mary, Megan, and Elizabeth.” At this point, I would usually get on my knees and beg. Please Miss Sally, please see me. “I see George, David, Sean, and Lisa.” She would then conclude with a generic thank you to all of her Romper Room friends.
In the two years that I had interest in this show, she never said my name. Not once. I became obsessed. Why was I overlooked? Was I not singing the songs loud enough? Was I not bending far enough? Did I hesitate to throw out the letter she was asking me to know? Why was I unnoticed?
I was haunted by this magic mirror that did not have the ability to see me. What was wrong with me? I vowed to myself at five-years old that I would make myself known. I did not like the way it felt to be glossed over, to be unrecognized. I wanted the Miss Sallys of the universe to know me and appreciate what I had to offer.
Fast forward ten years. I am an incoming freshmen in an all-girls high school all the way across town. I do not know anyone who attends this school. The first day, I walked into the cafeteria and I felt fear, actual fear. Everyone seemed to be chattering and sharing schedules. I felt that if I did not find some place to sit soon, the entire cafeteria conversation would come to a halt, and every girl would turn and stare at me, the awkward girl in the corner. I sat down at a table with a group of girls who seemed as intimidated as I felt. We exchanged pleasantries and quickly became friends. However, these initial friends and I did not have much in common. They did not like the same music, the same sports, or the same subjects I liked. Across the cafeteria, I saw the table of Miss Sallys I knew I wanted to befriend. They were outgoing, which I was, although I was doing a horrible job of showing it. I spent some time making a name for myself, and before I knew it, I had made real friends, people who were like me.
Fast forward twenty-five years. I am a blogger, and here I am again feeling like I am on the periphery of the blogger cafeteria looking in. This community of people all seem to know each other and recognize each other, and seemingly, they are developing real friendships and bonds. I want to be friends with GoJulesGo who is friends with Angie from Childhood Relived. I want Tim from Second Lunch to draw for me the way he is drawing for Becca from 25toFly. So many people are interacting and working together, I want in on the action. I do not want to sit at the side table eating the granola bar my mom packed. I want to be with the kids who have been called out by Miss Sallys magic mirror. They are sharing the last boxes of Twinkies and HoHos as we speak!