Sunday, April 5, 2009

how it begins.

I originally wrote this post last July on a pity party day. I never published it because at the time, it was for me. Today, I feel the need to make it yours.

I don't remember the name of my 3rd grade teacher. Or the kids in my class. I don't really remember my classrooms or my bus stop.

But what I do remember was my best friend in the world, Heather, who lived two doors down. She was blond and beautiful and every one loved her. She had a queen size bed and a chocolate poodle named Coco. She had a piano and her mother let her eat spray cheese.

My mother scoffed at such requests. I thought I was neglected. No poodle! No over sized bed! NO CHEESE??

Heather and I used to collect gypsy moth caterpillars and make "homes" for them in her sandbox. We would crawl into the thicket in the woods and watch the sun filter through the leaves. We would put her Holly Hobbie dolls into her play baby carriage and walk them around on her drive way.

Heather was always the mommy and I was always the baby sitter. She said it had to be that way beacause she was older.

I have no memories of Heather ever being at my house.

One of my only young childhood school memories is from Kindergarten. I remember hiding underneath a table with my fingers plugging my ears. I remember belting out "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" to drown out the teasing chants of my fellow classmates. I remember Heather leading the pack. I have foggy recollections of sitting alone at recess while the other kids, following Heather, played "keep away" from me.

I never told my mother and I always went to Heather's house after school to play.

I clearly remember being in her basement with her puppy. I picked him up and spun really fast in a circle. When I put the dog down it wavered while walking. I felt awful. I still do. My adult self knows why I did it, but still I can not reconcile myself with it, to me it was cruel even then. I feel it speaks of my character but at the time I felt trapped inside myself with my feelings and I had no one to talk to.

I didn't know I was supposed to talk to someone. I thought I was supposed to just feel that way. That was how things were.

Heather moved that year. I only saw her once after. I went to her new house to play. I remember her new room and her things. I remember sitting in the back of her fathers car with her singing Johnny 'B' Goode. She made fun of me because I didn't know all of the words and told me I couldn't sing with her anymore.

My mother always said "I was delightful until I entered school". She thought it was the structure, she thought it was the curriculum. She said maybe I was bored, maybe I needed something more tailor made to the way my mind worked.

I was sent to private school in the 4th grade. My problems with other kids, teachers and discipline continued until I was in high school.

Had I been raised in today's society I believe I would have been 'labeled' and most likely medicated.

I've never really talked about this to anyone. I certainly have never breathed a word to anyone about the puppy. It shames me.

I am terrified for my daughter. I am so afraid of what her future may hold for her. The cruelty of children. The harsh and cold things that mold us into who we are just as much as the beautiful things. I see her compliance, her patience and how she yields to other babies and I'm afraid for her; she is so timid.

This story is only the beginning. For all of the wonder my childhood held there were dark secrets that I never speak of. Memories deep inside. I know the ugliness that can exist for a little girl and I have a fierce need to protect mine.

I just don't know how.


Megan said...

Elementary school was one of the worst experiences of my life, then I got to junior high. I begged my parents to send me to private school. They didn't but I don't think it would have helped. High school was a little better, but finally in college I found myself.

Growing up is so hard, sometimes I wonder if I really want to put someone else through it all.

Heather Durdil said...

Hon, first off big ((hugs)) And secondly, I think that you will be able to help Riley more than you realize. You will understand-if the situation arises-the cruelty of children. I know you will be her biggest advocate.

You can do it! Many many hugs!

Swiggy said...


I hate not being able to comment until I get home from work.

I feel like you and I have more in common than I thought.

sam {temptingmama} said...

OMG did you post ever speak to me.

I went through many painful situations throughout elementary school with bullying, name calling and worst of all - exclusion. I can still recall just how painful it was and it makes my heart ache so badly when I think about it.

I dread my children ever experiencing similar pain.

Fantastic post!!

the new girl said...

Aw, Clink. Try to let yourself off the hook about the puppy. People who hurt animals DON'T feel any shame or remorse or sadness. Ever.

You were a little kid in a crazy, effed up situation.

Bullying/teasing stuff is so hard. It really is. There is some good info on the web re: 'bully-proofing' your kids. At the very least, you will know more than your parents or teachers did and you will be able to do things to help, if you ever need to.

Amber said...

This is beautiful, and I'm sorry I didn't get around to reading it until now.

I've recently started to think that I would've been medicated, too, if I'd gone to elementary school twenty years later. If that had happened, I'm sure I wouldn't be the same person I am now...and I've worked hard to become this person. I like me. I like you, too.

I get your desire to protect Riley from the bad stuff, to keep her from being taken advantage of by "friends" who alternately embrace her and bully her (I had those, too). And I hope you can protect her. But if you can't, try to see the positive in those experiences, too: they could help her become more compassionate, wiser, stronger, and more self-sufficient. If you can't protect her, you can still teach her to make the best of it--even if she doesn't see what you mean until years later.