Childhood Wishes

Growing up, I was the kid
who wished for a best friend.

I loved the heart pendants
engraved with
Best Friends Forever.

I dreamt of giving one half
to my best friend
and proudly wearing
the other piece
around my own neck.

It didn’t happen.

Instead of having a best friend,
I found myself wishing
that I was invited
to that concert in Winnipeg
with the other girls.

I remember them talking about it
after they got back.

Instead of laughing and playing
with the other girls during recess,
I remember wandering around the school yard
by myself.

They laughed at me
from behind the red janitor’s building
and spied on me
from behind the corner of the school
near the grade 4 doors.

Instead of looking forward
to birthday parties,
I found myself not wanting to go.

I remember a birthday party in grade 4
where I was sent as a spy
for a group of girls
to report back
all that was said about them.

I cracked
and gave up my spy status
at the party.
It felt wrong.

Girls can be so mean.

Instead of looking forward to a sleepover,
I found myself wondering
if my invitation
was just a cruel joke.

I remember thinking,
be careful what you say.
It could be used against you.

Grade 4 to grade 7.
I wanted so badly to belong
and to feel
like a part of the group.

Instead I found that
the only person
I could count on
was myself.

I met my best friend
my first year of university.

 



Charlotte Killer.

In grade 6 we had a class pet.  Her name was Charlotte.

She was a soft, beige coloured hamster who ran around in her circular cage.

Each weekend, one lucky kid had the privilege of bringing Charlotte home with them. (A clever way for a teacher to find someone to take care of the rodent on the weekend and also take responsibility for cleaning out its smelly cage).

The weekend I brought Charlotte home, I fulfilled my duties.  I emptied the base of its wood chips soaked in urine and the little dark pellets (hamsters are so gross). Charlotte sat watching me from our hope chest, the top of her metal cage resting above her to keep her safely confined.  I quickly went upstairs to get her some clean water and returned to find her little body sprawled out on our basement floor.

She wasn’t moving.

In the time that I had gone upstairs, our little dog, Muffin, had bumped the cage over just enough to get to Charlotte.  Our dog had killed the class pet.

I had to go to school on Monday morning with an empty hamster cage.

I found hate letters in my backpack with Charlotte Killer scrawled across tiny slips of paper.

 


Auntie Lyd Used to Buy the Best Presents

She always knew what I loved.

I remember getting an art set in grade 7.  It was incredible, especially to 12 year old me who loved anything crafty.

The black plastic case opened up like a book that was filled with an exciting collection of art supplies.  There was a watercolour palette with bubblegum colours and a long row of pencil crayons that took you through the colour wheel.   There were pastels, crayons, and a section of markers. A small clear ruler. A good white eraser. A pencil sharpener and little pair of scissors. I adored it.

Someone else in my class must have known that I did too.  Kids can be so mean.

I was in grade 7.  My teacher was Mr. Ahrens.  We sat in long rows facing the chalkboard; a Canadian flag and a picture of the Queen hung above the classroom door on the right. My desk sat in the middle of the room.

I remember pulling out my art set to work on a project. Upon opening it, I discovered that someone had poured thick, white glue all over the inside.  My precious art materials were ruined.

I quickly and quietly closed the case and slipped it back into the belly of my desk.  I didn’t want to draw any attention or react in the way they wanted. I wasn’t sure who sitting nearby had been responsible.  I didn’t cry, not there anyways.

My Auntie Lyd used to buy the best presents.

 



It Finally Ended.

At the end of grade 7
or maybe grade 8,
the bullying came to
an end.

The ringleader
had lost her followers.
It turned out
that many were tired
of playing the game.

I wish it didn’t take 3 years to happen.
Now elementary school
was over.

 



I Was No Better.

Green skin.
The name I had
for the girl who wore a lot of makeup.
I imagined that green
would be the shade of her skin,
beneath the layers
of foundation
and powder.

I never wore makeup.
I didn’t think I was pretty.

Teen wolf.
The name I had
for the boy who rode our bus
in elementary school.
He was the only kid I knew
with chest hair.
Dark tufts of hair
came out the top
of his thin white t-shirt.

I didn’t feel comfortable
in my own skin.
I thought I was fat.

 

I can think back
to how I was hurt
by the actions of others,
and yet I am not innocent myself.

If they are reading this,
those who were given names by me,
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for being a jerk.

It’s interesting how
as kids,
we act out towards others
based on the insecurities
we feel
in ourselves.
And it’s wrong.



an unexpected gift.

The childhood stories
and feelings of hurt,
embarrassment,
and broken trust
stay with us.

They can shape
how we feel about ourselves,
and the relationships
we have with others.

They can also become
one of our
greatest strengths.
an unexpected gift.

We are empathetic people,
who look out for the underdog,
and notice when someone
isn’t feeling heard or included.
We have our own spidey-senses
that let us know
it’s time to do our thing.

I’m glad
I felt on the outside.

Thank you for that.

 


For other pieces about my childhood:

Donald Young School.

my childhood playground.

The Fire.