When I was growing up we did not have a lot. We wore hand-me-downs, things bought at the thrift store or the Salvation Army, wore Payless shoes, food was not what others had most times. We ate things like beef tongue, frog legs, deer meat, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, possum, and various fowl. We did have the traditional meats, but it was always in small quantities like ground beef mixed with corn and Kraft Mac & Cheese. I do not blame my parents for my childhood so much, as the economy was bad back in the 80's. I was born in 76 and my sister in 78.
We also moved around a lot. I never knew why we moved every year or ever 2 to 3 years until a few months ago when my mom told me what had been going on with evictions and the like. We also did not have a TV in every room, a game console or even a bike. We were poor but we still made a go of it. The first Christmas where we got something other then clothes was when I was in 3rd grade. Easter my mom would always make sure we got lots of little things, even if they were dollar store quality, so we had something.
Bullying of me, that I can remember, started back when I went to school at Trumbull on Clark and Foster. I was the new girl just trying to fit in. I had dreams I went to school naked and couldn't figure out why the kids were laughing at me. I was a white girl in a majority black filled CPS school and so I stood out like a sore thumb.
I would eat my lunch, which was homemade, at the church that was next to the school alone or sometimes with a boy (do not remember his name). I was always the tomboy so the girls would pick on me for this. One day the girls threatened to beat me up, for what reason I have no idea since I was in 2nd grade (my sister was in kindergarten). To this day I do not know why the girls wanted to beat me up. They waited for me after school and I stayed in the classroom panicked. My parents had to come and get me from school and this was when my parents decided to moved to Lincoln and Foster and put me into a new school, Budlong.
My life at Budlong was short lives, after 2 years there we had to move and were back in Edgewater and I attended Hyatt school on Granville. After a year and a fall out with my dads friend who owned the building we moved across the street and a couple of buildings down and ended up at Pierce Elementary School.
By this time I was a bit of a nerd but hated school because I was always the new girl. I started Pierce for 6th grade and graduated here. My trouble with the kids at Pierced started in 6th grade and went till graduation. I had a huge crush on this guy, Sean, in my class and used to doodle his name along with celebrity names at the time on notebooks and what not. Of course the girls in my 7th grade class said I should write him a note and so I did. Never did I think to give it to him because I was so freaking shy and barely spoke 2 words to the boys then. Of course one of the girls took the note and gave it to Sean and I was devastated. For the rest of my school life I was embarrassed and just wanted to die.
As I said I hated school so I never really did my homework, though I tested at least 1 if not 2 grades above my academic abilities so kids always wanted to cheat off me but at the same time they still picked on me. They would make fun of the leather Mary Jane's my Chinese grandmother sent me from Hong Kong calling them bug stompers and that I must be good at killing roaches. At that time I did not know what bell bottoms were, I was wearing my mom's old jeans that I thought were cool, and of course they were not in style. They would make fun of these jeans and making ringing sounds and tease me about them, but it did not stop me from wearing my Mary Jane's with my bell bottomed jeans.
When winter came around that is when we got new gym shoes and of course we shopped at Payless and their brand were called Prowings. For the longest time I never knew why the kids called me Prowings. This is when Nike, Adidas and LA Gear were becoming the hot commodity for footwear. I didn't care for the big clunky shoes and liked my high top Prowings and sported them proudly. Only when I was in high school did I know they were making fun of my shoes. I was picked on through 7th and 8th grade for the clothes that I wore and the shoes that I had, but these were the same kids that would always beg me for something that I had they could easily take or consume.
By 8th grade I was known as Candy Brandi because I would always bring candy to school and share it. This is when Sean Jennings started in our class. He was a tall black boy that wore the thick glasses, you know the coke bottle type. He use to tease me at least once a day, even made fun of my mother, whom he never met. Told a yo momma joke, "Yo momma so fat when she wears a red dress and goes out side all the kids scream out "kool-aid, Kool-aid." This brought me to tears because my mother is a small petite woman, 5' and maybe 140 lbs if even that (sorry but when I was a kid she was small).
I am hot tempered and back then I was a feisty little spitfire. When things got bad I was sent to the principals office for a verbal confrontation and my mom had to come to school. I only had half the school year left so changing schools was not an option so I had to live with the girls picking on my clothes, the boys picking on my parents and my looking forward to high school.
High school I ended up with some of the same students, but luckily I was not in the same homeroom as them. I was still the awkward nerdy girl that was thinking can I tolerate being in this big school and not have someone that is picking on me for 4 years. Of course I did not leave high school without having a nickname and being teased. I was called Nerd-dog by a guy that I helped with his homework when I was a senior and just thought it was because I was smart and helping him out. Of course I had the biggest crush on him and would do just about anything for him so I ignored the name.
The first boy I ever kissed was because my sister, a friend of hers, the boy (Freddy) and myself were all playing truth or dare. This same boy would later threw nettles in my hair when I was a senior in high school and we were all playing in the front of the school. Nothing like trying to find sticking spiny things from your hair. Let's just say a haircut came shortly after that.
I find it funny that 18 years after high school these people who once bullied me in elementary school and high school want to friend with you on Facebook as if things are find and dandy since they "grew up". I have tried to be the better person and friend them but still feel hatred towards those kids that are now adults and have kids of their own. The bullying that they did might not seem like much, but just writing this post has brought up such pain and memories, some of which I did not share here, that makes me sad and tears well up. These people do not know how much they effect a person both mentally and emotionally. It is people like this that can sometimes create monsters in children that will bring guns to school or worse yet become adults that have committed violent crimes or even murder.
Luckily for me, I have put my past behind me and refuse to let what happened effect my adult life. Yeah, the hot temper stayed with me to this day and I for one am a huge advocate against bullying and will passionately argue with people that cannot even see what their kids are doing seeing as i have gone through a similar ordeal.
I stand up for my gay friends, as some did when I was in high school, because they are humans just like myself and should not be treated any less than that. I stand up for the nerds, because without them you would not have your smartphone, your laptops or even the software programs I am writing this blog with. I stand up for those that have learning disabilities because they do not know when someone is treating them badly. I stand up for abused women because the men that abuse them were once bullied as children by either a parent or other kids as I was. I stand up for men that are abused by bullies even now because they are different then the norm. I stand up for the transgendered because they should have the right to be who they feel they should have been when born as. I stand up to bullies because they need to realize that it needs to stop with them. We, as human beings, need to see the signs, no matter how insignificant it may seem, of bullying and put a stop to it now before it gets out of hand and it effects the nation and not just one child. Please help in ending bullying.