My dad was in the Air Force, so that meant that we moved around a lot when I was a kid. In 1981, we moved from Warner Robbins, Georgia to Atwater, California. I went to some good schools and some bad schools over the years, and my first school in Atwater was a bad one.
I was bullied a lot growing up, and it was especially bad that first year in Atwater – fifth grade. But as with most things in life, no matter how bad I had it, somebody else had it worse than me. In the fifth grade, that person was Candy.
Candy was poor, and in addition to economic hardship, you could just tell that she had an awful home life too. Her hair was long and tangled, her clothes were worn out and dirty, and I knew that she came to school hungry. She also had very poor eye-sight, and she couldn’t read very well.
Add all of those things up and the poor girl didn’t have a chance socially among our class of 10 and 11 year-olds. She was the class outcast. The bullying she endured paled in comparison to anything that came my way.
Every fifth-grader knows that life on the playground at recess is social survival of the fittest. The ultimate status at that school was to be champion of the tetherball courts. It was so important to be good that I had my parents buy a tetherball set so I could practice at home with the kids in the neighborhood. Being good at tetherball was one way to avoid some of the bullying. Continue Reading…