"No Child Left Behind"
It’s hard to see a kid alone without their friends around. Well correction, their “friends” around. Children like this feel sad, alone, and even heartbroken. They at least want someone around them to play a game, someone to come go on adventures, someone to laugh with, at least someone just to keep them company. I was that child, and sometimes, I still feel like I am that child. Maybe it’s just an anxiety thing, or people are just as cruel as they seem. It’s not fun, and that one child may be strong and suck it up and find someone else to be around, or they may just go home and cry about. Alone. Quiet. In solitude. Somewhere where this child can go hide and be alone for a little while and personally cry. Just go and run away from the real world.
My parents understood what was wrong with me in my childhood. I was quiet strange, my parents wouldn’t always let me go to my friend’s house. They always had to come to my house, so I don’t get in trouble at another person’s house since I was the guest. Mom and Dad were just over-protective, I was the oldest child and they were terrified about every single little action I did because I was their little boy. I still am their little boy. Though, I’m in college now. College boys aren’t supposed to cry about not having friends or even “friends”, they are supposed to suck it up and just get over it. Well for a guy like me, it’s a little harsh and a little rough.
Now don’t get me wrong I at least had one friend, a best friend. Garrett Campbell was his name, his parents were my godparents and my parents were his godparents. So in some case or another we were like brothers in a sense. But here’s the one perk, Garrett lived all the way in Windsor, England. Kind of tough for a kid in the late 90s and early 2000s huh? Well, it was a little rough for us, but back then we would write letters to each other, send pictures of our houses, our pets and things we like to do; we would make a creation entirely of construction paper and send it to each other and we would each hang them up on our doors for keep-sakes so we can feel like our best friend, our brother, was right there, with us, all the time.
Things changed when I was about 10 years old, I got to visit Garrett more, two months over the summer. Garrett and I both started playing the French horn together at the London Conservatory of Music; the program occurred only in the summer since I couldn’t live there full time. So that made things a little better between our friendship, but back in the United States, during the school year, I didn’t really have much of anyone to talk to.
Besides my letters to Garrett, I hardly had anyone I went to school with, people I went to church with, the people I went to afterschool with, or even my own neighbors that lived down the street to be around. So yeah, life was quiet, life was peaceful in my house. No kids running around. At home it was just me, being quiet, in my room playing the Gameboy for hours on end, doing my homework, and did arts and crafts with my sister, and the occasion like any sibling relationship we would argue about nothing.
My sister was in the same situation as I was, she and I both were the outcasts in all of our schooling days. We both really didn’t have very many friends, people tried to avoid us, no one wanted to be our partner in school, no one wanted us on their team even though we were faster and had more stamina. Though, with the whole team thing my sister and I both had a disadvantage when it came to certain sports, she and I were both had very terrible eye sight. So yeah, we were both “nerds” as you would say we wore glasses, and we wore the high socks when we wore shorts. But come on, who didn’t dress like that in the 90s?
Not only was our “nerdom” the case of both of us being an outcast; it was the position our father was in at the time when we were little. My dad was the principal of the local high school when my sister and I were elementary school leading to when I finished middle school. Here’s what people would assume of us: 1. Megan, my sister, and I were both “goody-goody” children, we weren’t expected to do anything wrong and we were perfect in every single way. 2. Since our dad was a principle and our mom was a teacher, people automatically assumed that we were overly intelligent, that even if we got a question wrong it was as if the world was going to end. Finally 3: Since our parents worked in the school system every teacher knew us and who we were so if we had problems our parents would know in a heartbeat, and that would cause us controversies when we got home.
So here are the problems with this situation on us being “goody-goody” children. Kids would come up with these devious plots in order to get themselves out of trouble. Here they would commit the “crime” and then have my sister or I in the situation and blame the entire thing on us due to scenery and how they “dressed” us for this situation. For a while our teachers actually believed them and my sister and I would be scolded not only by our teachers but also our parents. With the second situation, well yes Megan and I both studied tremendously and we worked incredibly hard for our ages to well in our academics. Our parents would check up with our teachers to see how we’re doing academically, and even the slightest B+ or lower our parents would pull us aside after dinner and question us on what went wrong in that certain area. In my case, I wasn’t really the smartest person in my family, yes I still studied hard and I was at a good standing to prepare myself for my classes every day, but my biggest issue was that I am incredibly lazy. Always was and always will be. So there would be most days when I wouldn’t have my work prepared, and I wouldn’t be ready for the material outside of class. Coming into class the teacher would call on me to answer a certain question. Ninety-nine percent of the time I would understand what they were asking me and I would do the problem, or write a sentence in my head before I answer. But even the slightest bit of my answer would be wrong and there would be this huge gasp of wind from the rest of my classmates in shock and horror over what my response was. Normally, the teacher would give this odd look at the rest of the class then back at me in concern on what I had done wrong. A lot like at Furman, the teachers at my school cared about our students and they understood what it would be like as a student to prepare for all of the classes and all of the such work that we had to prepare each and every day. Most days on days like that, the teacher would pull me aside at the end of class, unlike what they do with the rest of the students, and question me on what went wrong, most of the time I would either say that I wasn’t prepared for the class work, or that I had completed the problem wrong on my homework through a very minor detail. But then the third situation rings in my head and I quickly apologize to my teacher over and over again begging them not to email my parents on what had happened that day.
My sister and I both hated how our parents were able to check on our grades through the District database or even come to our school and prepare a last minute conference with our teachers off in the blue. These types of things made us feel incredibly uncomfortable and would hurt us not only at home, but also at school. Walking down the halls I would hear “Tyler, your dad was at school today he went to go talk to Mrs. Turner.” Very rudely, the children in our school would mock us in a nyea-nyea tone “You got in trouble heh heh heh heh heh heh.”
It wasn’t our fault that we grew up in these situations. Everyone has gone through this type of experience at least once in their lifetime. Imagine going through this type of situation 3 or even 4 times a week. Every day someone would steal your lunch when you went up in front of the class. Every day at recess someone would hit you with a dodgeball, soccer ball, or even basketball. Every day someone would trip you on the playground or grab your swing to force you to go flying. My sister and I both had a very painful and rough childhood, everyone was rude, and everyone was harsh. It does sound like I am complaining but this is what actually happens to kids like my sister and I. Megan and I would come home after school and hide in our rooms, away from our parents and away from any distractions and just cry. I didn’t want this childhood, and neither did my sister, but the children we grew up with were harsh cruel and even painful.
High school was a little bit better, I found better friends from other elementary schools around the district. It made things a little bit better to at least talk to someone that had better interests with me. The only problems I had were the occasional taunts of being called gay. I mean yes I act the way I do because a majority of my high school and middle school careers I did hang out with a lot of girls. Then, of course being around people like them I will tend to act like them, but I did have a girlfriend, and I did go play paintball and such with a lot of my guy friends, but in those situations I know that they are jealous of me having friends they wish they had, and their only goal was to make me as miserable as possible, which didn’t bother me as much.
Looking back at the little kid on the playground by themselves, I remember that same childhood that they had and I don’t want them to experience the same thing my sister and I did. Though I also remembered that it did get better, and all the kid needs to do to at least talk to someone and get to know them a little bit more. Megan plays with our little cousins, at least the girls, and play tag, hide-and-seek, and even dress up, while I played with Legos and Lincoln Logs with the boys and played destruction games and childish, yet harmless, pranks on the girls. My sister and I work as a team, we help make other children have the childhood we didn’t have so they don’t have our experiences. So for that small child sitting by themselves, I would crouch down and ask them if they want to play. Instantly I see that boy or girl’s frown turn to a smile ready to go on their own adventure with someone who actually does want to be their friend. That way in the future years of their life they don’t feel like someone didn’t reach out to them, they can say that at least one person does care about them, and someone cared about the million reasons why they should be here.