I have recently found the show "Without A Trace" on TBS (yes, the rerun channel) and I've discovered that I love it. However, the one we were watching in bed last night got me all riled up - and not in the way my Hubby would have liked. You see, there was a kid who went missing, a boy in Jr. High. Through the course of the show, you find out he views himself a loser because of the treatment of his peers. The memories this resurrected....NOT good ones. In the end, you find out the boy went missing because a group of girls played a horrible trick on him. Public humiliation.
If you are squirming in your seat right now remembering some trama you went through in middle school, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, you are either very lucky or perhaps you should be squirming thinking of what you may have done to the "geeky" kid in Jr. High. Folks, these memories last a life time.
A little history on why this is such a hot button issue for me. My beloved daddy was in the Air Force. We moved around but we were lucky because we didn't move a lot and my parents had some great assignments. We started in Texas, then my dad did a year in Turkey by himself to allow them their pick of duty stations. Well, that was a no brainer since we are from Rhode Island originally - they chose Pease AFB in Portsmouth, NH. While they were there, they were offered the opportunity to be stationed in England. Why did this excite my parents? Well, my paternal grandparents were from Ireland and then they immigrated to England where my father and his older sister were born. When my dad was 2, they loaded the family on a ship and set sail to the States. So, obviously, England was a homecoming. We were all raised (my sister, brother, and myself) with a strong love of our Irish heritage and England was as close as we could get. So, in 1984 we packed up, said goodbye to all our family (my mom is one of 10, her family could be the poor Kennedy's!) at Logan Airport and boarded a plane to our new life in England. I was 12. And NOT happy. And hormonal. And pretty much a miserable little bitch.
I had to leave all my friends and start a new school - a JR HIGH - at 12. It sucked. It sucked the big fat hairy one. I didn't dress the way the others did. I didn't wear make up (Thanks a bunch MOM! :D). I didn't have styled hair. In short, I was the geeky kid. To top it off, I was smart. So I was the teacher's pet smart nerdy geeky kid. Whatta combo! 7th Grade became a year of HELL for me. How? Let me explain:
* I got a top student award. When my name was announced, the student body booed.
* I was pushed down a set of concrete steps.
* I was slapped in the face.
Those are a few...but here is the one that STILL breaks my heart to this day:
We had math class as our last class of the day. English right before it. During English class, the "girls" managed to get me to tell them who I liked by pretending to be my friends. They in turn, told this boy - who happened to be one of the "popular ones". They came back to me and told me he liked me too. Before I knew it, we were going "out". I walked into math class on a high. The teacher wasn't it class - she was often late. This boy stood up in front of the whole class and said, "I said I'd go out with you but I didn't say how long. I am breaking up with you. You are a dog." The whole class errupted into laughter and cheers. I wished the floor would open up and swallow me whole.
You don't get over that kind of torture - EVER. It affects you for the rest of your life. It shapes the kind of person you will become. For me, I became overly empathic. I championed the losers. Does my story have a happy ending? Yes, it does. You see, I ended up staying there from 7th grade to Graduation and ended up being one of the "popular" ones. Did it change me? No - I was friends with everyone. I didn't tolerate anyone in my presence treating someone the way I had been treated.
Now, I'm a parent. That experience has affected me as a parent. If I ever heard my children say ONE unkind thing, there was hell to pay. I am proud to say, I have raised 2 very empathic and sympathetic children. They have many friends and they truly treat all humans with respect.
Now, I look at our newest. And I get sad. You see, she has a birthmark. She's one and its not going away. I know what she's in for. It breaks my heart for her. So, what's my point? Nothing other than, if you're not already, teach your children kindness and acceptance of all humans - no matter the race, looks, background, etc. Share with your children your experiences and how its affected you. In the words of the Beatles...All we need is love...dah dah da da dah...Love Love love is all we need.
**stepping off soapbox and admitting that this was also a good place to post what I think is one of the most beautiful pictures of Abby. Also, if Mastercard and the Sox are listening...I could be persuaded....nah!