I was a runt. Fourth grade Meggan was a shorty and awkward looking. I had huge ears and was this scrawny, little thing… I was really going places. I was very self-aware and very uncomfortable; like most kids going through their awkward years, mine have just never really stopped. I will be awkward until the end of time, 20-something Meggan is completely okay with this, I would rather be weird than boring, but pre-teen me still believed that being normal was a good thing.
Oh, how little you know as a kid.
Despite being very adamant about wanting to fit in, I was constantly struggling with the fact that I wasn’t like everyone else. I was at a higher reading level, I had a better vocabulary and I could pick up stuff pretty quickly; because of this, I was placed in a “gifted” program at school. Being not normal has perks, because in our “gifted” program we just got to play with K’NEX for like an hour and half every day. In hindsight, I don’t think my school knew what to do with us, so we played games and built structures everyday; it was like a second recess for just a few people who could read fast.
One day, in this second recess, we got to play a game discussing money with the other kids because some teacher was sick or something. At least I think it was about money, however, instead of money it was candy. I’m a little blurry on the actual premise of the activity, but I do know that I was given 7 pieces of simple candy, e.g., Jolly Ranchers, bite size Snickers and Smarties. This candy was like the holy grail to a child in school. The teacher then explained that we would play a game where we would be using the candy as money and learning how the world worked. Pretty simple stuff, we used the candy to buy fake clothes and cars and stuff. I’m a little fuzzy on the exact activity because I was EXTREMELY zoned in on my candy.
The lesson started great, but I quickly learned that people had different candy and that some candy was worth more than other candy. In this game, I was in the lowest tier of candy holders. I basically had jackshit. There was, like, a kid two seats away from me who had a king-size Snickers! I needed to up my candy game in order to survive in this cruel fourth grade candy world.
I quickly started bartering and trading my candy and working my way up the candy ladder, I was no longer following the lesson. I traded 3 pieces of candy for a 100 Grand Bar, I traded the 100 Grand Bar for 2 Milky Ways, I traded the 2 Milky Ways for 1 Atomic Fireball. That’s when it all changed.
I originally set my sights on the king-size Snickers, but once I realized that I had a hot commodity, I let that dream go. This was better. In that moment, I had won the game. My personal game to get the best candy, I’ve clearly always been competitive. Quickly, students were wanting to trade their candy with mine, but I held off. I held off for a good 10 minutes, until this kid wanted to give me all of his candy AND he promised to give me his pizza at lunch.
Even fourth grade Meggan couldn’t turn down pizza, so we traded.
And that’s when I learned the power of bartering for things, but even more I learned about the power of an Atomic Fireball.
Do they still make those?