I was born in downtown Indianapolis, the hustle and bustle of the city was the soundtrack to the first eight years of my life. I had never been out of the city; “Naptown” was all I knew.
Then, in August of 2005 my parents moved me and my two older siblings to a small suburban town in Ohio. I was in for the biggest shock of my little eight year old life.
Walking into my new classroom I remember feeling this sudden overwhelming sense of loneliness. For the next three weeks, that feeling seemed to wrap itself around my neck and latch on, creating a permanent lump in my throat that threatened tears every time I opened my mouth. It didn’t help that the girls at my new school wouldn’t let me walk two feet in front of them without yanking my ponytail. They would feign curiosity about my hair, “how did you get it like that?” and “why is it so BIG?” just as I would turn around to explain I’d feel a big tug at the base of my ponytail. And let me tell you those little eight year old girls had the strength of Thor himself. Every tug felt like it was going to pull my hair out of my scalp.
To avoid being bald by December, I decided to start faking illnesses. I would find a way to get sent to the nurse’s office and convince the nurse that she just had to call my dad to pick me up.
Once the third week rolled around my dad had reached his boiling point. He sat me down with my mom and gave me one beautiful invitation.
“Talk to me, my love”
Almost immediately the tears that I had been holding back for so long started to flow. I admitted that I didn’t want to tell them what I was going through because I didn’t want to rain on everyone’s parade. My siblings were getting along well in middle school, my dad loved his new job, and Mom was finally being the suburban woman she always knew she’d be. I was afraid my inability to get along well in this transition would spoil it for everyone else.
The first thing I remember my parents doing was apologizing, which threw me off. I thought they would be mad but more than anything they were sorry. Sorry for not talking to me more about the move, sorry for not checking in with me during such a huge transition, and sorry for not being able to protect me from those girls at school. We formulated a plan to stop the bullying and my parents made me promise not to keep things I was going through to myself. We talked for hours that night and I remember feeling that boa constrictor around my neck finally loosen up.
If you wish to know more about childhood bullying, how to know if your child is bullied or what to do about it – ask Jiminy.