There hasn’t been a St. Patrick’s Day I can remember when I didn’t wear green. Not because I’m insanely proud of my Irish roots (I’m not even really Irish – my ancestors came from Northern Ireland, so they were actually British), but because I don’t want to get pinched. I learned very young if you didn’t wear green on St. Patrick’s day EVERY PERSON YOU SEE ALL DAY will pinch you. Dramatic much? But I seriously believed that and I think every other kid in my class did, too. Even if every person you see wasn’t going to pinch you, almost every classmate would. My mom forgot to put me in green once when I was too little to really know which day was St. Patrick’s day (probably kindergarten?) and I got pinched. I’m 26 and I still feel panicky at the thought of forgetting St. Patrick’s day and ending up not wearing green. I pick out my outfit at least a week in advance (by which I mean I go through my closet looking for something, anything, green, because there’s pretty much none in there), then every morning all week when I wake up I make sure I’m 100% positive this isn’t the day before I let myself leave the house not wearing green. The week is actually stressful for me because I’m scared of somehow messing it up.
As I was composing this post in my head, the behavior of the would-be pinchers – who got REALLY excited when St. Patrick’s day was coming, because they might get the chance to pinch someone and claim they shouldn’t get in trouble – started to sound a lot like bullying, but it wasn’t really like that. Nobody was going to corner you at recess, hold you down, and pinch you until you started crying. It wasn’t even really the thought of the pinching itself that bothered me, it was the thought of being singled out as not fitting in over and over again all day long.
I understand pinching would be considered bullying today and might even get you sent home if the school has a zero tolerance policy. I’m not against that, per se. Kids shouldn’t be pinching other kids based on what they’re wearing ANY day of the year. It’s just when I was young I feel like it was different.
I went to a small school (graduating class of 69 people) and everybody knew everybody. Everybody was friendly with everybody. We weren’t all friends in the sense we’d go over to eachother’s houses after school, but even when we were in high school and there were groups/cliques, people weren’t really mean to eachother (except for the kind of relentless teasing people would dish out to someone they had a crush on).
I think we all kind of felt like siblings. We had the smallest class (the average class size was 100) and almost all of us were together from kindergarten all the way to graduation. My sisters both graduated with well over 100 people (around 120, I think) and they would tell you my class was very different from theirs. For whatever reason, we had almost no kids who moved in or out, and when you’ve known someone since you were both five or six you develop camaraderie and it’s easier to be nice to them. Or, at the very least, easier to see them as a real person with feelings.
Wow, this post about St. Patrick’s day went in a whole different direction, didn’t it?