As a kid, I was never very fast. I was the fat kid with the brains. I did not run well at all, I didn’t fit into the stylish clothing because they didn’t make it in my size, I just wasn’t well-liked. It’s ok. It’s just what I was. Yes, I got teased and made fun of to the point where I would come home, cry, and then eat because I just felt so alone and without friends. As I got older, I found my group of friends – many of whom I am back in touch with thanks to the magic of Facebook and all of them are amazing people!
But those days in late elementary school and middle school were some of the worst days of my life. It’s hard to let go of some of those things and I can’t help but wonder how I can protect the Daughter from the same fate. How do I teach her to be the things I was not, without going to the “dark side” and becoming the thing that tormented me? How can I teach her to be fast?
I look back on those days now and realize that even though I wasn’t fast, I did learn about my own strength. I learned how to handle being called fatso, ugly, and have boys point and laugh because you weren’t as skinny as the popular girls. I remember one boy used to call me tuna fish. I don’t know why tuna fish was his taunt of choice, but tuna fish it was. Every day, I would get on the bus and my stomach would sink because there he was, waiting for me to call me tuna fish. I sometimes wonder if the people who called me names remember doing it or if they don’t because I really didn’t matter at all in their little world.
Looking at how bullying is such an issue in today’s world, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if we had the anti-bullying measures that they have today. I say that, though, I went to school with the same 75 or so kids from kindergarten to eighth grade. Everyone knew everyone. Parents knew parents. It didn’t mean that there weren’t kids who were bullied.
I often wished that I could lose weight overnight and become one of the pretty and popular girls. You know the girls who were on student council, who had the table at lunch that flowed over to the table next to it, just so I could feel like I fit in and not be made fun of. I didn’t feel like I had my friends until 7th grade or so when I finally started finding the real people in school. Lucky for me, they were the real people and they were the ones who knew it wasn’t just how you looked that made you a person. I never know why it took me so long to find those people, but thank God I found them!
They added to my strength. It took so much strength to have to go to school every day in clothes that didn’t’ look right because they didn’t make plus size girls clothing back in 1993. My friends didn’t care. They helped me laugh off the taunts. They helped me learn there was more to life than having the Champion sweatshirt like everyone else. They helped me learn that I was someone and that I was not a bad someone. They helped me break out of my shell and learn that I didn’t need to care so much what other people think.
Strength like that is hard to develop. It takes years of work, especially when that strength is tested at home too, which at the time it was because I had someone in my life who reiterated everything the girls at school would say, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re nothing…
My strength came from home though too, when that mean person was away, the kind one would hold me up and remind me that I wasn’t nothing; would soothe me and tell me that I was smart and that was more important than anything in the world. That person helped me find strength by showing me how to find it when faced with one of life’s hardest tests ever. Her strength in those years helped me see that being fast isn’t always the best route to go.
Yes, being fast allows you some benefits. But those benefits aren’t always for the best. You may find that what you got from being fast didn’t really end up being what you truly wanted.
The point is this, faster is not always better. In the end, it comes down to how strong you are. If you are strong enough, you know that no matter what speed you go at, you will eventually get to the place you are supposed to be. I’m still learning that on a daily basis. I’m learning how to handle situations that come up as the Daughter starts playing with more kids and things happen. It’s tricky because for the past two days, I have felt badly about how I handled a recent situation. Was it right? Did I overreact? Did I make things awkward? It’s a learning curve I suppose. One, that in time, I will eventually get. This superhero mom knows that it takes strength to admit that you may make mistakes and it takes even more strength owning up to them.