No, I didn’t spell elementary wrong. Elementary school was a terror for me. I should explain a little about how I grew up. I was born in Torrance, California and lived in San Diego for the first six months of my life. Then we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia for five years. I can remember loving Virginia and being happy. School was great. I had friends. I played on farms.
My dad then went to Cambridge (England) to get a law degree and we lived there for a year. I also remember loving it and being happy there. Metz, France was after that. I hated France. The reason I hated France is that I was held back since I couldn’t speak the language. I was put back into kindergarten and I hated every minute of it. It was only for six months, but I was miserable.
After Europe, we moved back to California to Oceanside. I went to first grade there. I enjoyed it. I loved living in Oceanside. My grandfather had a beach house in Saint Malo. I spent my summers between there and Mineral King in Sequoia National Park. I was very lucky. My best friend at the beach was a girl who was younger than I was and we were pretty inseparable. Mineral King held my cousins. Four boys who were 3-5 years older than I was and who treated me like one of them, most of the time.
Those boys will never know how much being nice to me and letting me tag along meant. Those summers were my getaway from all that I dealt with at school and at home. This is not to say that I didn’t have friends at school. I did. I had two very good friends. I am still in touch with one of them. I am so grateful we found each other again.
We moved to Rancho Santa Fe after Oceanside. I lived there from second to eighth grade. I loved living there, but I hated school. I didn’t hate school because it was school or because of the teachers. I hated school because of the other girls (and in some cases boys). I was the teacher’s pet in almost every grade and every class because aside from my two friends, I didn’t have any. This is not to say that all of the kids were mean to me, but I didn't have a large group of friends. I’m sure there were other girls that were tormented, but I can only speak for what I went through.
If you want to know what I remember most from growing up, it’s sitting alone in my room. I had my stuffed animals. They were my friends outside of the two I had at school. I wrote stories about them. I told them stories. I had them, my other toys, my brother and when I could, my cousins. I’m sure I will have a post that addresses my camp counselors that helped me too.
My teachers and superintendent in R.S.F., I would go so far as to say, saved my life. I can’t explain the misery that I was in. My teachers never gave up on me and were always there. What needs to be briefly explained is my home life. Before I start the explanation, I want to say that as an adult, I now understand a small part of what my mother went through and I don’t blame her for what happened. My father is the problem and always has been. If you don’t know what it’s like to grow up terrified of a parent, I can’t truly explain what that is like. This is how my father was and is. It’s why I don’t speak with him and won’t see him. (This is not the same person as my step-father.)
My brother and I learned to walk silently through our house. I was dragged down stairs. I was towered over screaming. My childhood is filled with memories of terror. I can remember my father telling me bedtime stories of him killing people when he was in Vietnam. He is unbalanced and I am extremely grateful I do not have any biological ties to him. (I am adopted, more on that later). My experience at school didn’t help at all.
I can remember coming home almost everyday from fourth grade and sitting in my room and crying because of how horrible the other girls were to me. My parents asked, but I said I was fine. They didn’t push. I was made fun of for everything: how I dressed, how tall I was, the fact that I was bigger than the other girls, etc. I have a story that shows how ruthless kids can be over nothing.
I was rather boy crazy, for as long as my mom remembers; and, in second grade I had a crush on this boy. One day he and one of his friends were having a “fight” by calling each other really stupid names. “You’re ice cream.” “You’re soda”. “You’re french fries”. Don’t ask. They were boys and they were 7. Well, I had to step in and blurted out to my non-crush, “Hey, you’re milk.” Fantastic. That earned me the nickname “milk” for years.
There’s something very important that I need to point out. I was tormented both by my father and by children at school. This, however, didn’t prevent me from being who I was (or at least trying to). It didn’t change how I dressed or how I acted. My mom said that even back then I never let it stop me. I never conformed. I never gave in to why I was being made fun of. Ever since I was 2 and I told my mom, “No, I do it”, getting dressed, I owned what I wore and dealt with consequences even when I knew they would come. (This, however, did not prevent me from being strong enough later in life to not change myself for the worse for the people I loved.)
The dresses I hated, I didn’t show that I did. My mom said that as a young child, I would just go with it and if someone said I looked pretty I would believe them. The owning the hideous dresses stopped when I was 7 or 8, but I still put on a happy face because I loved my grandfather. (He and his girlfriend gave me some of the most hideous dresses you've ever seen. These are who my horrible dresses came from). While these aren’t Curvy Girl Complications, I think it’s important to explain my background.
Next time on Curvy Girl Complications...Middle School years.