A different lifetime. A different person. I was not me back then. Not the me I am nowadays anyway. Not a mother who understands that every child should be treated equally and that kids do not choose their upbringing. I was a little girl. A chubby little girl who often got teased by other kids and sometimes got picked on. But I was one of the lucky ones; I had an amazing family waiting at home for me.
I had no idea what I was part of. I wanted to be liked and to be part of the gang. So much so, that I am now ashamed of my behaviour. My recollection is that at the time I had no idea I was part of anything nasty. No realisation of what we were doing to one poor boy. No understanding of the way our cruelty would affect his life, and not just his life then but his life for many, many years after.
Shall I tell you the story of one boy who came and joined our primary school?
His father was in the army and thus he had moved around a bit and joined our school a couple of years in. I think his family were very tight for money; my recollection is that he did not have the latest toys or clothes like many of us did. He lived in some flats that most kids thought of as being a right off. I cannot remember that he smelt or was dirty or anything like that but for some reason most of the kids in my class took a disliking to this boy and looking back now I know that we made his life hell. I am so sorry for the part I played in this and I have made amends with L and said this to him but I think it is important to tell this story as it makes you realise how things that seem like harmless kiddie behaviour at the time can actually be much more sinister.
Basically, each time anyone saw this boy, we would cross our arms across our chests and say ‘fleas, injected for all my life’ (as if we had been inoculated against flies). Where this came from, how it started I have no idea at all. My memory is that it was practically everyone in class doing the same and I am sure the teacher was aware too, as we became more sneaky and would just mutter it under our breath and maybe slowly cross one arm over our chest so as not to be obvious. Why did this teacher not talk to us all? Why did they not have our parents to the school and insist we stop bullying L? Why did L’s Mum not demand the school did something? As a mother myself now, I am outraged for the lack of care the school had for L. As a human I am mortified at the way this impacted him for so many years and as a Christian I can certainly say I repent with all my heart and would love to forget this ever happened but as ever it teaches me humility to know that I am flawed.
I don’t know about you but stuff from my early days at school (about ages 7 -10 I think) is not something I think of often and I have forgotten much of what went on. So when I was contacted on Friends Reunited and later Facebook by L himself about 9 years ago when I was 28 and he started to ask me about our time at school and why certain things had happened and did I remember…. I had to honestly say ‘no, I do not remember most of it’. It was inconsequential to me but of course not to him, not when it was damaging his self-esteem each and every day.
My first thoughts were fear when he started to contact me, was he after me? Did I have a stalker? Should I be looking over my shoulder? But here I am 9 years on and nothing sinister has happened. I think L just needed to make some sense of his childhood. He told me that his mother left a lot to be desired and he had not felt wanted at home. So there we were, heartless middle class kids putting the boot in at school too!
I believe L is relatively happy now, he went through years of counselling but is now in a relationship and I pray he can live out his days happy and at peace.
Never again will I ever have to face the truth and know that I am a bully. I vow not to do that. I am an adult now. I know better. I have other avenues that I can pursue. I do not need to fit in with the crowd that much. I do not want to get sucked into others crap.
I am happy to be me, the Lord loves me and I am blessed with a wonderful family and great friends.
This post was written using the Prompt 'Past Secret' for Josie's writing workshop. Hosted over at Sleep Is For The Weak. Go take a look I am sure there will be loads of other great entries.