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.