Every year millions of kids head back to school, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or their last – they all have one thing in common with the billions that have done it before them – recognizing that there is a definite pecking order. I’m sure there’s a reason behind the basic construct of popularity, but I’m no scientist so I can only speak on what I know, and that’s what made you cool at Cabazon Elementary in the ‘90s. This isn’t about one boy in particular, but if they went to school with me, they know this one is about and for them as they were definitely an elementary school crush for someone during that time.
Sometimes it was because they were older. I mean, how alluring is someone with five years on you when you’re still playing in the designated kindergarten area in velcro shoes because you just can’t quite grasp the concept of that stupid bunny rabbit trick your teacher is trying to teach you? For some that was it. They chased older boys on the playground when they could or tried to play cute and innocent while waiting for the bus so they could score a seat with a cool, older boy in a sick pair of overalls.
It was easy for me at times seeing that I was in those combination classes that saw first and second graders in the same room. The same for when I was in third and fourth. Also, being that I showed some promise (in hindsight I’m really not that bright), I was always placed in the group with the older kids, and alas, a crush or two formed on those who had a year on me. They had cool ponytails, were taller than most, and presented more maturity than the rest. As mature as a 10-year-old could seem to a nine-year-old.
Of course, with recess, you did get a chance to check out the kids in other classes and that’s when playground crushes could form. Your moms may have known one another so you knew their names and where they lived, but the friendship had yet to take place because you didn’t share the same teacher. You noticed they were obviously a catch because they had clothes that didn’t appear to come from the local Kmart, and they wore similar baseball hats to Benny the Jet from ‘The Sandlot.’ If that didn’t scream king of the playground in the mid-90s, what did?
By the time you were one of the older kids in school, you’d formed friendships with your peers that felt eternal. In reality, middle and high school would break those bonds quicker than the seam of a dress from Shein. Alas, fifth grade was when the hormones started to creep in and it’s the first time a crush felt…different. The cool kids are no longer the ones that felt mature, but rather immature. You sort of leaned towards the boys that could rattle the teacher a bit. At least the few from elementary school I’m thinking of that every other girl scribbled about in their diary with the rinky-dink lock.
Those boys were cute. I can’t deny that. They were rebellious, hilarious, and also had a lot of charm for that age. However, those few were not what I liked and not my biggest crush of the time. Not saying my crush was some sort of dork on the sidelines. He was one of the cool kids. Ugh, that damn Benny the Jet hat.
These boys are particular to me but in reality, every school from now until the beginning of modern education has had these cool guys that tried to cement themselves as the best of the best very young. Some of them managed to hold onto that clout throughout high school and some, well – as they often say, peaked and left the best years behind them. No matter what though, they can always be sure that they were someone’s elementary school crush once upon a time.