Prior to the May 1st deadline, I filed Petition A-3456, a form to be utilized for reappointments, transfers and readjustments. According to contractual language, evidence in support of petitions must be submitted within two weeks of the filing deadline. Ergo, my evidentiary argument will proceed here, prepared in the requisite typeface and font with the approved margins.
Approximately, sixty years ago, I received appointment to the Bluebirds, somewhat by accident, I feel, in the cold light of retrospection. In early September of 1956, Sister Juliana wrote the word “mosquito” on the board and asked us young scholars if anyone knew this word. My little hand shot up, eager and confident. It happened that earlier that summer that I had read the very well-reviewed Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore where the word mosquito appears at a pivotal point in the narrative arc. In all the reading I had done to date (approximately eleven months worth, no word had ever stumped me. I spent an unproductive ten minutes trying to sound out the word but I couldn’t get it. I had to ask my mother who seemed very surprised that a rising second-grader couldn’t figure this out on her own. In any case, “mosquito” was mine, a word I have never forgotten. Neither did my mother ever let me forget this silly question.
When my hand went up in recognition, I had no idea of the consequences of that gesture for my entire life course. This singular answer placed me immediately in the Bluebird reading group with all the attendant privileges and responsibilities afforded the top reading group in the second grade. Just below the Bluebirds were the squirrels, the second rank readers. And, at the bottom of our little hierarchy were the Gophers. The nuns explained to us that the Bluebirds got more schoolwork to do because we could do more work. If we couldn’t keep up with our group, accommodations could be made, measures would be ta
ken. We could be moved to a slower group.
There is never anything subtle about messages to second graders and I worked very hard to remain a Bluebird and vied, I must admit with some embarrassment, to be the biggest little Bluebird. Bluebirds sometimes helped the teacher, got sent on errands, and were asked to present at assemblies. Bluebirds after all were pretty and cute. Squirrels were rodents, after all, and gophers, well, really they lived under the ground and weren’t very well coordinated.
By accident of the Bluebird start in life, I took an average intelligence and parlayed into a pretty good class rank. Supported by a few underserving scholarships, my long career that has taken me to many places that I hadn’t wanted to go but all in all, I have been a hard worker and more than earned by reputation not because of talent but because my fear of falling behind my peers. The Bluebird classification served me and my employers very well. Sociologists write about the looking glass self and the self-fulfilling prophecy and I am smart enough to understand that my success in life has been built on luck and chance at every turn of events.
So, it is with a sense of sadness and resignation that I am finally recognizing that my Bluebird time has come and gone. I used to be a good Bluebird but now is the time to move to a slower group. Other Bluebirds will be happy to pick up the slack. As a lifelong Bluebird, I know their behavior and their habitat. They are happy to pick up the slack and eager to see if they can do the work better than its previous owner.
There are many fine people who are Squirrels. Actually, they are nicer than Bluebirds and know that talent doesn’t always rise to the top. There is no shame here. I expect to have more time for other pursuits. Proof to support my request can be found in my unanswered emails, my unfriended Facebook contacts and my unwritten tweets. Evidence can be also located in my zoned out responses in meetings and in my undecipherable notes taken during conferences. Finally, my enrollment in Life After the Bluebirds: The Promise of a Squirrel Lifestyle classes serves as the strongest testimony that it is time for me to go. I am willing to accept the consequences of my transfer and understand there is no going back.
Bluebird Class of 1956-2016