Elementary school was not very difficult for me. I got good grades, and I was in the schools gifted programs. I was pretty active in school activities and I had a few friends. I was by no means one of the popular girls, but I went to school in a small town with a lot of people I grew up with.
When I was in fourth grade, I didn’t like recess very much, so I would go visit old teachers. My favorite second grade teacher would let older students come in during their break, if they worked with the younger students. I really enjoyed helping, so I gathered a group of other students, and we spent our breaks helping the younger kids learn to read and spell. It was a lot of fun.
I became more of an outcast as I got older. Weird things were going on at my home, and most of the kids just weren’t dealing with the kind of issues I had already. Things like anger, death, and sex aren’t normal topics for the average elementary student. I found it very difficult to relate to the other kids, and I didn’t have much in common with other girls because I was such a tomboy.
Outside of school I had several friends. The street I grew up on was full of young families, so all the kids played together often. Afterschool the kids would get together and play street hockey, or hide and go-seek. We would go on adventures, ride bikes, and explore the area. I didn’t have friends over often, it just wasn’t my idea of fun, but I loved going to friends’ houses and seeing how their families interacted.
One of the families’ that lived on our street had an older mentally disabled son. He would sit out on the bricks in front of his house, and try to get the kids to come talk to him. He often convinced the girls on the street to come sit on his lap, and he liked to hug them. I won’t lie; I sat on his lap once to and just thought he was weird and overly friendly. I didn’t think much of it, but I knew I didn’t want to go near him anymore.
About a week later another girl on the street sat on his lap too. I guess he tried to kiss her, and her Dad saw her trying to get away from him, and the police were called. He was apparently a registered sex offender, and his parents were supposed to be supervising him. I am not sure what happened to him, but we never saw him outside again.
It was saddening to think that there were bad people everywhere, at home and on the street. Where was I safe? I didn’t have very much trust or faith in people after that. I felt like my parents couldn’t keep me safe. I felt like I had the world on my shoulders, and I had to take care of it on my own. I think it made me a very independent person early on. I never worked well in groups, I felt like the other kids would fail at their part, and it would all come down to me any way, why not just do it all myself? I made myself an outcast with this attitude, and I really started to dislike people in general.
I decided if the people who were supposed to keep me safe and take care of me were going to do a crappy job, then I would do it myself. This “do- it-yourself” attitude stuck with me. To this day, I still feel like I can do it better myself. It’s funny how the things you do to adapt as a child help shape who you are as an adult.
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