Mol (mollyringle) wrote,

(Un?)happy childhoods

Following in the courage of other friends who have spoken of how nerdy they were as children, I too will be honest with you now. When I get praise, when I get told I'm funny and cool, part of me is sincerely bemused, because part of us always sees ourselves as the 10-year-old we used to be - and in my case, that 10-year-old was a scrawny, weird, silent dweeb.

I'm not sure what went wrong. I was fairly normal up till middle school, though due to skipping first grade I was a year younger than everyone else in my class, and was always small. But in elementary school that didn't matter much: I had friends; I had good times. Then, due to the way our town's school districts were set up, I went to one middle school and practically all of my friends went to the other. And overnight, cliques sprang up. Cutthroat hallway politics took over. I had no one to hang out with. I don't know what it is about middle school, but kids are mean.

Seventh grade was pretty much the low point of my life. I was pathetically unfashionable, even for the '80s: I couldn't seem to decide whether to wear childlike pastel nerdy clothes, or teen-sexpot denim jackets and mascara (again: '80s), so I wore both, in ill-advised mixtures. My shoes were never the "right" brand - boys would snicker to each other and look at my feet in class; that's how much these things mattered. Bullies stole my lunch tickets. Careless (or malicious?) classmates actually knocked me over on their bikes when I was walking out of the building one day. Yeah, knock down the little 80-pound girl - don't you feel brave now? No one ever apologized and I didn't have the nerve to say anything. Get up, dust off, move on. In fact, I didn't say much to anyone, in school, ever. I lived in an agony hoping not to be called on. My friends, when I finally got a few, were practically the dorkiest people in school. I say this as one of them. We were total weirdos, and we didn't even have much fun with it - we were too busy being tormented on all sides by the rest of the students.

I see now lots of ways I could have been less of a freak: relax more, talk to people more, do not do the secret-admirer-letter routine to boys you like (who only respond by, eventually, telling their friends about it, and sending you a "leave me alone!!!" note), do not wear mascara when you're eleven.

So I got to high school, where, amazingly, the boys were actually nice enough to hold open doors for me on occasion. Even though I had once again gone to a different high school than most of my friends, and had to start over again at the new Lunch Table O' Nerds, I had hope. I had shot up about six inches in 9th grade, bringing me from well below five feet to a more respectable 5'1" or thereabouts, and was starting to look pretty. It's no wonder, after my middle school experiences, that I latched onto the first boyfriend who ever presented himself: a handsome, smart, popular, jealous, immature jerk of a fellow who I didn't have the courage to break up with for 2 and a half years. Yay.

But you know - through it all, I knew that my parents loved me, and that my little sister would still hang out with me and giggle over dumb things with me, and that when I went home, no matter how awful school had been, I would be sheltered and taken care of. And that made a huge difference. I didn't even have the courage to speak to my parents about the nastiness of my peers, usually, but their very existence was a tremendous comfort. Thank you, parents. And for other parents reading this: do not despair. Your kids love you and need you. Be there, and be steady, and one day they will grow up enough to be pleasant company again.

That's all we have time for today. Have a good Friday, my fellow misfits.
Tags: history, love

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