Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Third-Grader's Theft

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Third-Grader's Theft

Article excerpt

In this confession, the writer admits to elementary school thievery. She stole a classmate's stickers, and all that stuck was the guilt.

If I were ever to spiral down toward a life of crime, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to pinpoint the day it all began.

It was a nerd-eat-nerd world in Mr. Lane's third-grade class, and Sameer and I were at the top of the geek food chain. Whether it was fraction quizzes, spelling bees, or a quest to memorize the most world capitals, we were always neck and neck in our race for the imaginary title of Biggest Smartypants of 3C.

In elementary school, scholastic superiority tends to manifest itself in the form of sticker accumulation. Scratch-n-sniff varieties were extremely popular in the early 1990s, as were Hello Kitty for the girls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the boys. Woe to the pupil who got the simple smiley face or, worse yet, a puny "Good job!" scrawled across her work sheet.

But the holy grail of academic achievement came in the form of Mr. Lane's coveted 3-D stickers, the kind that shift images depending on the angle - two stickers in one! - and only given out on rare occasion to the truly deserving for the biggest accomplishments. Sameer and I were ahead of the class when it came to amassing these, and each of us was determined to finish the year out on top.

An unfortunate seat reassignment wound up placing me next to my archnemesis for the remainder of the quarter - the result of some sort of misguided teacher wisdom that inspires them to position cootie-conscious enemies close together to "work things out" - and our sticker war heated up. We scoped out each other's loot surreptitiously and jealously from behind our respective giant plastic spectacles, plotting to surpass each other with each new spelling test.

One day Sameer's folder that contained all the contents of his prized sticker collection was perched precariously on the edge of his desk, and, when he was distracted, teetered off and fell to the floor. …

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