Changing, but staying the same

Me with my cat, Herman.

The elementary school I attended only went to Grade five, after that there were two different schools that people could attend, depending on their circumstances. A lot of the kids in the English class went to a different school than me, and I was pretty happy to see them go.

Even though things were changing, a lot remained the same. My French Immersion class all had to go to the same school if they wanted to stay in French. The school the other kids went to was strictly a middle school, it was Grade six to Grade Eight. The school I went to was another elementary school, that had kids in Kindergarten all the way to Grade eight.

I also learned that my teacher from an earlier grade would be my homeroom teacher for Grade six. I was very upset about this, as this was the teacher that had told my mother that I was struggling. At the time I saw this as her saying there was something wrong with me, and I held a pretty substantial silent grudge.

During the summer that year, before the school year started, I made the decision that I waned to start wearing a baseball hat. I ended up picking up an Oakland Raiders hat, even though I knew absolutely nothing about football. Raiders gear was popular at the time, looking back it was probably related to Easy-E, that would have been around the time that NWA were making it big in the rap world. Mind you this was also a social happening that I was completely unaware of at the time.

Showing up to school with my hat, once again triggered my French class to make fun of me. Looking back, I imagine that anything I did would have triggered this response, but I remember this because it had a huge affect on the way that I thought. I did continue to wear my hat, because I figured if I stopped they would most likely just ridicule my hair anyway.

This familiar feeling quickly put the brakes on any excitement I had of attending a new school. There were a few things like getting a locker, and having new people and classes that I had originally been looking forward to. The excitement quickly wore off when I realized again, that even though things were changing, they were still eerily the same.

During my time at home, Dave, Brad and I had taken to watching horror movies. One time I stole five dollars from my moms purse so we could rent “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3.” Brad was put off by my stealing, but did watch the movie with us.

Anyway, I had found a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a magazine, and decided to put it up in my locker. Looking back this was probably a picture that a girl would have put in their locker, but at the time I was just thinking that Predator was one of my favorite movies, and that’s the guy who played Dutch.

It wasn’t long after hanging that picture that one of the other kids noticed it, and made some comment about me have a “sweaty dude” hanging up in my locker. It never even occurred to me that it could be perceived this way, and I soon took the picture down and gave it to my sister for her locker.

At this point in my life I really didn’t have any social skills, coping strategies or self-awareness. My hygiene was horrible as it was a value that was never really enforced, but all of this contributed to my consistently decreasing self-worth. I was now at a point where I wanted nothing more than to be invisible so that people would leave me alone.

Once again Brad and I spent all of our recess time together, and kept our distance from all the other kids. This was my comfort zone, but without having any emotional outlet, or even knowledge of how to express myself, feelings began to pile up.

I might also mention that when I changed schools, my mother also did. She left her job at the elementary school and became a lunchroom supervisor at my new school. It seemed like she was following me, but we really didn’t have much interaction at school at all.