That's What She Said: Stand by your decision to do right, even if you pay for it
- Dawn Dumont | October 09, 2017
Remember those days on the school field when your teacher would pick two team captains to choose their teams from amongst their classmates? This brutal practice was back in those savage times before the birth of humane ideas like “inclusion”, a dedicated cartoon network and wine in a can.
My boyfriend was one of those kids who was always picked first or second and muses: “What it was like for those kids picked last? What did that feel like?”
As the kid picked about halfway through the reject pile, I honestly don’t know. But I do know that being picked towards the middle was enough to fill one with seething rage at being subjected to such a humiliating system. What also irked me was that the picking process was so consistent; every time it happened it drove home that every single one of your peers considered you mediocre. Even the losers thought that you were a loser.
The order was always the same whether the picker was a boy or a girl: the athletic boys first, then the slightly less so, then athletic girls (or perhaps a crush), then the less athletic and on and on to those holders of traits considered less than ideal by society (poor kids, nose-pickers, etc.)
So when I got the chance to pick the team – I decided to do things differently. It was time to change things up; perhaps introduce a little fairness into the system. I don’t know where my belief in fairness came from. I suspect it came from always whining to my mom when she’d ruled in favour of one of my siblings: “That’s not fair.” And her casual reply, “well, life just isn’t fair.” And then under my breath, I would solemnly promise, “We’ll see about that.”
Wherever it came from, at the age of nine, I was a firm believer in equality and justice for all elementary school aged children. So then when my teacher said, “Dawn, you’ll be one of the team captains today.” I was ready. Oh yes, I was ready.
My first choice was the most athletic boy in the class, Roy. But he was also my friend and one of the only other First Nation kids on the team – hey even if you’re trying to create social change, you can’t hang your friends and fellow neechees out to dry.
But after that my choices were from the bottom up. I will never forget the looks on the faces of the girls that I picked before the boys. That first look of shock: “what’s going on?” And then, it transitioned to embarrassment that people were noticing them. And then finally, their faces registered annoyance - at me because I was putting them through this. But their glowers weren’t enough to stop me.
By the time the process was finished, my team was nine girls and one boy.
I think perhaps if I’d told people I was going to do this before springing it on them, I would have got more buy-in from my teammates. As it was, they trudged out onto the field with all the enthusiasm of a cat on bath day. Even Roy shook his head as he took the pitcher’s mound, “this is gonna be bad.”
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it for you folks. It was bad. Our team got mercy’ed after about the third inning. I felt the full weight of the girls’ blame was being directed at me – which seemed unfair. Couldn’t some of the blame also be on their parents for not teaching them how to play ball?
To really drive it home, our teacher lectured us (but obviously meant for me) about the importance of not just picking our friends. I was incensed; I wanted to shout, “But none of those girls are my friends, just ask them!” But that seemed like a discussion for a different time.
I learned then that disrupting the social order would not often result in an “atta-girl.” In fact, it would more likely result in the opposite. But sometimes you gotta do what seems right to you, even if everyone calls you a dumbass for a week afterwards.