Shit That Happened
For the record, I was (still am) a sensitive kid. By all accounts, however, I was fairly outgoing and a “really happy baby”. I remember it being easy to make friends in pre-school, I even befriended the closest thing to a bully we had in Headstart (he wasn’t a bully just big and kinda selfish, we worked things out). I think it’s because of these two aspects of my character that Catholic school was so damn traumatic for me.
I’m not sure what happened to me in Kindergarten, whether it was the drastic change in environment or if with a bit of maturity came a healthy bit of self-consciousness. Regardless, I distinctly recall that year being rough. On the first day of school, I balled my eyes out because I didn’t know anyone and was told I’d be getting homework. (I didn’t know what homework was, just that all my siblings had it, hated it, and it was the reason they could never play with me). That same day, a group of boys were all drawing some amazing dragons, and they were going to exchange them with each other. I asked if I could join and was immediately shunned. So friends were basically out the window from the get go, and that’s before I even factor in my teacher.
To date, I’m convinced my teacher didn’t like me on account of how emotional I was. There were a lot of firsts for me in that year, most of them negative, and she could not stand the fact that the only way I (a 5 yr old) knew how to process negative emotions was through tears. Seriously, somewhere in the middle of the year I remember her yelling at me for crying, even got a time out during recess for crying during lunch time.
And shit like that just kept happening to me.
In first grade I sat next to a guy who would critique every thing I did. Should have colored that brown instead of red, should have tried to draw blank instead of blah, you get the idea. And to my other side sat a dude who would sharpen his pencils to where the point could break skin, and he would laugh as he poked me with them whenever we were supposed to be doing quiet work. I would be trapped between my need for self preservation and the rules. And when he finally did draw blood, and I yelped in pain, guess who got brought to the front of the class and scolded for being disruptive? Yeah, me. Not the worst thing to happen that year, although this next one is a lot funnier in hindsight. My crush got wind of the fact that I had a crush on her. Her reaction? She beat the crap out of me after school that day. Charged at me while we waited for our parents to show up, and caught between self preservation and “boys don’t hit girls”, I didn’t put up a fight as she slammed my book laden back pack into me repeatedly. Good times.
First day of school, second grade, I got yelled at by my teacher in front of the entire class for getting up to sharpen a pencil without asking for permission first. Then I got chewed out ten minutes later for having pencil shavings in my desk (which I had tried to avoid by using the class the sharpener instead of my little white one) and told I was a terrible student for not having a pencil ready and sharpened on the first day of school. As the second son of a scholarly dynasty, that one hit hard.
Third grade, I finally made a friend. Said friend turned out to be a selfish dick hole who started spreading rumors about me after I walked away from a game where he was unapologetically cheating. Then, at some point in the middle of the year, I got seated next to a young girl who did not like me one bit. Everything I did was scrutinized, mocked, and shared with other girls right in front of my face. “Oh my god, this is how he writes his name.” *pantomimes lazy swirling while making a stupid face*, again, right in front of me. I was able to get moved after I stood up in the middle of class, face red and tears streaming down my face, asking if I could go use the restroom to wash my face. The straw that broke the camel’s back? I had just gotten a haircut, and she kept telling me how bad it looked, insisting it was uneven and my hairline was crooked.
I mean I could go on and on and on because in truth I’m already leaving out huge portions of those years which I still recall in detail.That’s not to say it was all bad, around fourth grade I made a real friend, and I’m not sure I would be the same person today if Luis hadn’t have struck up a conversation with me one morning. But, I seriously got beat up on a lot growing up. If it wasn’t my weight, my hair, or my clothes it was my interests. I got called names for enjoying power rangers, for being late to pick up Pokemon, for not having cable and watching The Osbournes, for reading the Lord of the Rings instead of just watching the movies; oh and I got told to “stop talking smart” a lot. And if it wasn’t the kids my own age making life miserable, it was the teachers imparting heavy handed “lessons” vis public humilation. I was not a shy child! K through 2nd I was totally comfortable standing in front of the entire student body, in doofy costume, reciting speeches or poems from memory.(there are pictures of me doing this by the way) By the time I got to 8th grade, when my speech, out of all the speeches written by the entire graduating class was chosen as The Graduate’s Farewell, I tried to back out of it every time we had practice. Morning of, I thought I would have a heart attack I was so damn nervous. . .All to say, if I hadn’t gone to Catholic school I would be a proud extrovert instead of the sad ambivert I am right now. I think my introversion, my somewhat reserved and thoughtful demeanor, was beaten into me and I think I’m just now starting to undo all the damage.
There’s no grand meaning to any of this, or well thought out lesson to be gleaned by my sharing any of it, I just wasn’t sure what today’s post should be about and apparently I have to work through some shit still.