I thought you were a boy!

The spring I was in Grade 3, we had a sport festival at school. Among the many games we were enrolled in was a tug of war. The four classes in Grade 3 were going to fight against each other to win the trophy cup.

For the weeks leading up to the sport festival, we practiced different games during the physical education classes. One day, we were going to have a practice match of tug of war with another class. I felt pumped. Having an actual match was way more exciting than practicing the basic movement.

“We are gonna win this game!” I said to everybody around me as we squatted next to the rope in position. “We’ll show them how united we are!”

The whistle blew, and both classes started to pull the rope. It wasn’t an easy game. We pulled the rope with all our force, but the other class had no less power than us and the rope remained static. The first game ended in tie.

In a tug of war, individual forces are important, but even more essential is how successfully they are combined into one force. The more our forces were united, the more power we could exercise as a team. And one powerful key to uniting forces was to use our voices as we pulled the rope. By chanting together, we had a better chance of pulling the rope together at the same timing.

“We have to chant more,” I said eagerly to everybody around me as we sat down after the first game. “We have to combine our forces! Next time, we chant louder, okay?”

I was one of those hyperenergetic kids. Even though it was only a practice match, I wanted our class to win. I told everybody around me to chant louder and focus on pulling the rope at the same time.

The whistle blew for the second time. The moment I heard the whistle, I started chanting at the top of my voice as I pulled at the rope.

“Wasshoi, Wasshoi!”

I didn’t care anything else other than combining our forces to pull the rope exactly at the same time. I chanted even louder.

“Wasshoi, Wasshoi!!”

Toward the end, the power balance shifted and the rope rapidly moved to our side. We won.

When the teachers announced that our class won the game, I jumped with joy and cheered everyone around me. Then a boy who was squatting next to me said in a surprised face,

“It was you who was chanting in such a loud voice! Your voice was really loud. I thought you were a boy!”

In my hyperenergetic state, I didn’t really understand what he was saying. I was too busy celebrating our win. Later, I thought it was funny that somebody took me for a boy just because my voice was loud. But then recalling the surprise on his face, I thought to myself my voice must have been really loud to have shocked somebody like that.