I (Margaret Simon) was moving to New Jersey and was anxious about my new school. I was a few months to being 12 years old. It turns out that my parents didn’t consult me when they bought a house at New Jersey. We moved because of grandma, Sylvia Simon. She was really nice and warm towards me. My family had enough to get by. I didn’t have any siblings to play with. Grandma liked to ask me about whether I had Jewish boyfriends. I found it puzzling. I wouldn’t be seeing grandma as much nowadays.
A girl knocked on my door in her bathing suit. She was Nancy Wheeler and was in 6th grade as well. Mum allowed me to play in the sprinklers with her. Nancy lived 6 houses away. I visited her house now. It was extremely neat and I was impressed with it. We would be in the same class. I was still flat. Nancy was undergoing puberty. Nancy practised kissing. Neither Nancy nor I kissed a boy before. Nancy was already experimenting with make-up at her age. Later, I was introduced to Nancy’s mum, Mrs Wheeler. Evan was 14 years old. He was Nancy’s brother. Evan was only interested in naked girls and dirty books. Moose and Evan were out on the lawn. Moose offered to cut my lawn for a small fee. Nancy educated me on what to wear on the first day and told me about some secret club where I could join. My dad loved gardening and would trim the garden himself. I started talking to God. I wanted to grow up quickly and be like Nancy. My parents didn’t know that I talked to God. God belonged to everybody.
Don’t you think it’s time for me to start growing God? If you could arrange it I’d be very glad. Thank you. – Margaret
My dad bought a lawn-mower. My dad got injured while mowing and was bleeding. Later, an ambulance came. I hoped his hand would be alright. Dr Potter had a daughter, Gretchen, who would be entering the same school as me. My dad’s hand needed stitching and we enrolled the services of Moose. Grandma came to pay my family a visit. She brought food along too. She took a bus to New Jersey and then cabbed to my house. My dad and mum were Herb and Barbara respectively. They were surprised that grandma could make it here from New York. Grandma missed me and wanted to call me every night. Grandma knitted me a new sweater. Later, she left.
It was my first day of school. My mum encouraged me to wear socks. However, Nancy didn’t want me wearing socks. She wanted to correct my posture now. My mum loved to nag and I hated it sometimes. Some of the girls in class had already started wearing bras. A man entered the class. He introduced himself as ‘Miles J. Benedict Jr’. He was our new teacher. We had to fill up an introduction of ourselves for our first exercise in class. Later, after school, I headed to Nancy’s to join her secret club.
Janie, Gretchen were the other girls at Nancy’s. Nancy warned me to stay away from Laura at school. None of the girls in the room had our periods yet. Janie and Gretchen thought Mr Miles as being cute. We named our club ‘four PTSs’. PTS would be Pre-teen sensations. Nobody would know of our club and it would strictly be kept a secret. We had to each keep a boy book and wear bras. Gretchen had to attend Hebrew school. I didn’t have a religion unlike the rest because my dad was Jewish and my mum was a Christian. Mondays would be our meeting days. I was either supposed to go to the Y or Jewish Community Centre even though I had no religion. It was weird.
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret…Please help me grow God. You know where. I want to be like everyone else. – Margaret
Mr Benedict asked me why I hated religious holidays. I told him it was because I didn’t have any religion. I liked Moose actually. Later, my parents brought me to a lingerie store to try a bra. The salesgirl wanted to measure me. She suggested a Gro-Bra for me. It was one that would grow with me. I was too small for a AA. I stripped and my mum started putting on bras for me. We bought three bras in the end. It was an embarrassing moment for me.
Later, I stopped wearing socks as I thought it would be more hip. Mr Benedict gave us all projects to do but we could decide the topic. Nancy didn’t get a Gro-Bra. She got the 32 AA. Nancy suggested that we needed to exercise to get out of the Gro-Bra size. She suggested a method for us to increase our bust-size. The boys, Evan and Moose, heard us and laughed continuously. Some of the students in class started playing peep and it was very annoying indeed. I did my bust exercise before I headed to bed. Also, I studied for the upcoming social studies test. We all decided not to leave a name after completing the paper.
I scored a very respectable 98 for the test. I wanted to do a project on religion as I didn’t know what else to write about. Later I visited New York and grandma. I headed to a concert with her. Later, I was curious and told her I wanted to visit a Jewish temple. It was not because I was interested but I was just being curious. My parents didn’t know about it. She claimed that I was too young to know what I wanted yet. It would be a secret. It was time to look for God.
Later the Rabbi appeared in the temple. We had to stand and recite from a prayer book. My grandma introduced the Rabbi to me. I admitted that I loved the service. I knew that I needed more time to decide on a religion which I particularly liked.
Laura looked great in a sweater once again. Janie and I also visited church once together after we became quite close to one another. It was like temple, but everything was in English. I didn’t feel at God at all and I know that I should try harder next time. 2 weeks later, our gang started to dance together. I secretly wanted to dance with Philip Leroy during the class. Mr Benedict wanted us to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Luckily, I managed to dance with Leroy and my hands were all clammy with sweat after the whole dance.
For Janie, Gretchen and I, Philip Leroy was the best guy around. Janie tried to imagine Leroy without his shirt on. We were reading a book on the male reproductive system. Janie was exposed to nudity as her dad and bro walked around the house naked. Nancy said that in future, girls were attention seeking and wanted people to look at them. I know my dad had a copy of Playboy and I went to find it. We flipped through it and saw a naked girl posing at only age 18. However, her bust was so big that it looked out of proportion. We all wanted to increase our bust.
Grandma went on a three week cruise and my mum gave her a green silk box. Grandma wanted to give me a lot of stuff when she passed away. Later, my mother started sending Christmas cards. One day, I spotted her sending to Mr and Mrs Paul Hutchins, who were her parents. Our class was selected to participate in the choir and we learnt some Christmas songs. There was a guy from class that didn’t sing because it was against his religion. He obtained a letter from his home in order to succeed. So far, I still didn’t know which religion I wanted. I was involved in the choir too.
Later, I received a letter and collected it at home. It was an invitation to a party. It was from Norman Fishbein and I was instantly compelled to go even though he hardly talked to me in class. My mum allowed me to go. Janie, Gretchen and Nancy were all invited for the party as well. Later, we realized that the whole class was invited. I would wear my velvet dress that evening. I dressed up well and was ready to party. Later, when I looked in the mirror, I saw some hairs. However, I was still flat and unhappy. Instinctively, I grabbed cotton balls and shoved them in my bra. Now, it looked like I had grown. I thanked God and promised to do good things.
We squeezed at the back of Wheeler’s car and were headed to the party. Janie even had her hair trimmed before the party. Finally, we were in the Fishbein’s household. Most of my classmates had already reached and were equally well dressed. Philip Leroy started spraying mustard on the ceiling and was extremely childish. Mrs Fishbein served us cupcakes in different colors. Freddy was an idiot and he tore off Nancy’s dress pocket. Norman suggested lame games for us to play and they involved male-female interaction. Later, we would play spin the glass bottle. If the glass bottle pointed at you when it landed, you would need to kiss the person beside you. Gretchen got her crush Philip Leroy. Norman still had other stupid games for us to play. My number was called. Philip would have to kiss me in the bathroom. He told me to stop laughing and later kissed me on my lips. Later, it was my turn to call a number and I called Norman Fishbein. Norman kissed me on the cheek in the bathroom. According to Nancy, fate brought Leroy and me together.
I went for Christmas Eve services with the Wheelers. It was at the United Methodist Church of Farbrook. I enjoyed most of the service. However, I didn’t really feel God. There was no hint from above as to what religion should I pursue. Grandma called to check on me. On Friday, all the girls would have to watch a show on ‘What Every Girl Should Know’. It was about menstruation, which I already knew. The show just portrayed it to be a painless activity which was very natural. The booklet handed out recommended a sanitary supplies brand for us to use. One week later, Gretchen had it. Her mum ran to the drugstore to order some pads. This was my story. Her mum warned her that it may not be regular immediately. I worried and wanted to have it before I was 14. I was worried that I would be an abnormal child. Nancy got hers like only 3 days later. I was deeply worried with myself. I wanted God to help me with my discovering of religion and for me to start my menstrual cycle soon.
Mostly I don’t feel anything. Sometimes it feels like it’s dripping. It doesn’t hurt coming out – but I had some cramps last night, lower down and across my back. – Gretchen
I missed Grandma and wrote to her. Life in Florida was still alright. She was writing to my mum and dad as she wanted to stay with me during the spring vacation. She advised me to dress warmly to avoid falling sick. It seemed like Mr Binamin, a widower, and her had something in common.
Moose, Evan and I were visiting Nancy and her family in New York. After lunch, I heard Nancy moaning and then subsequently crying. She ordered me to get her mother. Her mum came but Nancy mentioned that she couldn’t unlock the door. Nancy was menstruating and I was requested to help her get a sanitary napkin. It was her first time. Nancy lied about having it a few days ago! Nancy was actually a liar! She made me swear not to tell the other girls about the fact that she lied so blatantly. I enjoyed being around Moose. I prayed to God again but I was more patient this time. I definitely didn’t want to lie to my friends.
I was 12 now and used the roll-on deodorant. Grandma made sweaters for me and sent me a $100 savings bond every year without fail. She also bought me a round trip air ticket to Florida. Nancy, Janie and Gretchen bought me a Mice Men record album. Mr Benedict didn’t want those who already knew each other to work on the same school project. So we couldn’t work together. I was paired with Norman, Philip Leroy and Laura. I hated talking to Laura as she was big and beautiful. My birthday felt rather rotten. I was sick of school now.
My group had to research on Belgium for 3 weeks. Philip didn’t do much work and often fooled around. Norman was a slow but willing worker. Laura was a good worker. Laura and I had an argument in the library. I mentioned to her that I heard her A&P story with Evan and Moose She denied all of that and called me a filthy liar and a little pig! It was then that I realized that maybe Nancy made the story up. Laura said she felt disgusted that people picked on her because she was big. She admitted that she was being teased in school since 4th grade because she had to already wear a bra then. Later, Laura headed to the church. I stepped into the church as well. Later, I bumped into the priest and quickly ran out of the church. I prayed again but there was no sign of God.
A letter came from Mary and Paul Hutchins, my other grandparents. They had disowned my mum when young. My dad was angry with mum for giving them our address I stomped out as I absolutely detested how mum and dad argued in front of me. They wanted to visit my parents after 14 years. My dad was pissed by the letter. However, their visit would clash with my trip to Florida and my parents didn’t want me to head to Florida. I started crying as I knew I couldn’t visit Grandma. Everything wasn’t working out now. God wasn’t fair and I still wanted to head to Florida.
Mum wanted me to cheer up. Mum couldn’t forgive her parents though. She told me that 14 years they made the decision and had belief it in when doing so. I finally got to meet them. They seemed alright. The initial exchanges were plain awkward. Grandmother was surprised that I didn’t go to Sunday school nor have a religion. To her, I needed to have one. My parents were nice and allowed me to choose a religion when I was older. Grandma was very persistent on me being Christian. I was pissed at having to listen to this conversation.
Especially for Margaret’s sake. A person’s got to have religion. – Grandmother
Nonsense! A person doesn’t choose religion. A person’s born to it! – Grandmother
I just can’t stand another minute of listening to you. Who needs religion? Who! Not me… I don’t need it. I don’t even need God! – Margaret
I didn’t want to talk to God now. Later, I went to watch a movie with Janie. We entered a drug store to look at the sanitary napkins. Janie suggested that I buy some for standby purposes. I paid the cash and brought the sanitary napkins home. It was the ‘Teenage Softies’ brand. I tried the pads on to see how they would feel. Thankfully, mum didn’t find out about it. My grandparents would be moving on to New York. However, my vacation plans to Florida were still ruined.
Later, I was pleasantly surprised to see Grandma come visit me instead. The man with him was Mr Morris Binamin. Grandma now said that I was a Jewish girl but I told her I didn’t believe in God at all and that it didn’t matter at all.
Sometimes Grandma is almost as bad as everybody else. As long as she loves me and I love her, what difference does religion make? – Margaret
I wrote to Mr Benedict about my year-long project on religion. I didn’t come up with any conclusions at the end. I felt I was too late to learn about it.
6th grade was over. We had a party and gave Mr Benedict a gift. I spoke to Moose when he was mowing my lawn. It turns out that he didn’t take Laura behind the A&P. They were all rumours spread by Nancy. Finally, I got my period as I saw my underpants were finally stained. I was growing and was finally a woman!