Saturday, July 19, 2008


Were you teased or ostracized as a kid? I sure was.
I was very shy, goofy, and had the social skills of a fireplug.
Seventh grade was the worst.
I had no friends. Kids hassled me all day. Most of it was verbal- name calling and catty remarks. I spent spare time writing stories and drawing pictures each day, trying to ignore pebbles pelted my way. My pop-up art project was sabotaged after the teacher put it up. An older boy flashed me. Sometimes kids would gather around me and ask why I was such a weirdo (or loser, or "skuzz" etc..) Once, in a home ec class, some kids put masking tape in my hair and ran my school photo through the sewing machine. They cracked up as the needle punched it full of holes.
I'm so glad I'm not thirteen any more.
It could have been worse. Nobody beat me up or extorted money. Nobody gave me a swirlie. Nobody shot me.
It left lasting effects. I became even more shy and withdrawn. And cynical.
There were benefits:
While the normal kids were hanging out with friends, I drew pictures and wrote stories. Would I be writing and drawing today if I didn't have the practice?
Another bonus: Since I know how much it stank to be bullied, I never became one. It could have happened. I have a smart mouth. I'm quick to make cracks about public figures. Without the "gee, it stinks to be ostracized" experience, would I be making cracks about my peers too? Am I shoving some poor sap in an alternate universe?


Linda said...

Namo, I find it hard to imagine that you were tormented like this. I don't get it. Let's find those kids now and seek revenge. I'm really good at torture and tormenting--just ask my sister. I just don't get it with you, though. But you're right, seventh grade is definitely the worst. I think I tormented others in an effort not to be tormented. I still have the social skills of a fireplug.

Namowal said...

It's true. I was an easy target. Shy, socially awkward and not strong enough (or assertive) enough to slug anyone who got mean.
Revenge probably won't be needed. The nastiest kids were irresponsible brats who probably screwed up their lives on their own.

Jonathan said...

Hey, I was very nearly tormented in school, too! I had the, however, the benefit of an older brother with older brother friends whose favorite past-time was beating me up. So, when boys in my class tried to pick on my, well.. they got more than they expected. Soon, only the girls would make fun of me. I remember one very popular girl trying to drag me down, saying what a loser I was, etc.. (same ol' you must have heard). I remember I looked at her and smiled and said, "you mean nothing to me." I don't think she ever spoke to me again! I call that a win-win.

Great illustrations, by the way.

Namowal said...

Thanks for visiting, jonathan. And thanks for saying you like the picture.
Sounds like having a big brother has its benefits and drawbacks.
That's funny how you put that girl in her place. I bet you caught her completely off guard with your response.

Sally said...

oh, the torment of a big brother. ..

oh, the torment of seventh grade boys!

I'm not a spaz, but it took me many years to figure that out.

ahh, the social skills of a fireplug. "Hey dog, over here!"

Namowal said...

Hi Sally,
I think one of the better lessons I learned growing up is that most insults thrown my way weren't true, and I couldn't rely on some jerk's opinion to decide how "good" or "bad" I was.

My take on the fireplug
Uh oh, here comes the Dalmatian! Maybe he won't see me if I hold real still... ...dang! Got me again!

stray g said...

I got teased at school about my last name and because I was a bookish nerd. At home I had two older brothers.... but as we got older that were actually usually quite sweet to me.

Sally said...

Namowal, that fireplug comment of yours deserves an illustration!

booda baby said...

It's pretty wonderful that you know, absolutely, the good that came of those experiences.

I have never had any tolerance at all for kids bullying, teasing, being mean. I guess kids'll do what they do, but I know they get their cues from bigger people (sometimes - gasp - even parents). It's bullshit, every time.

Namowal said...

Stay tuned for the fireplug in an upcoming post...
It's remarkable how mean other kids can be to each other. I even saw it when with preschoolers- kids saying stuff like "If you play with tom then you can't come to my party." People who think kids are pure and innocent are out of their minds.