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Friday, June 1, 2012



When I was growing up my family moved a lot.  No, we were not staying ahead of the bill collectors, my dad’s job required relocation about every four years.  In school, four years is about the time it takes to go from the “New Kid” to one of the gang.  I was always “The New Kid.”

The first thing that happens to the new kid in school is that all the losers want to be your friend.  When I say losers I mean kids that are different.  As an old man I have learned to appreciate people that are different.  In many ways I prefer people that are different.  As an eight year old or even a high school kid, hanging with kids that are different is poison.  You, the new kid, are immediately branded as “different.”  Different in school is a hard row to hoe.

Shedding the "different" image is not easy.  You are forced to be mean to the only kids that befriended you in the first few weeks of school.  This was a source of bullying when I was a kid; it is a source of bullying today.  The different kids try to befriend others and to shake the image of you yourself also being different you have to make it clear you do not associate with the different kids. 

At least you thought you had to.

I am sorry different kids.  I did not mean to be mean.  I wanted to fit in.  I didn’t want to be “The New Kid.”

To “Tubby” Thompson: You were not “Fat fat the water rat.”

To “Four Eyes” Susan Smith: I wear glasses now and I know they suck.

To “Sparkles” O’Malley: I secretly thought your braces were really cute.

To Erick “The Spaz” Goldblatt: You threw like a girl, now you are a dentist.  I guess I was wrong.

To Jane “Bazooka Jane” Jablonski:  What the hell was I thinking?

To all the kids I was mean to:  I’m Sorry; being “The New Kid” sucked, but eventually I would fit in.  You were different all through school.


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  1. My dad worked in mining, and due to the transient nature of the work and my dad's innate ability to piss off his supervisors, we moved a lot. I have lost count how many schools I went to. I was always the new kid, but I never really aspired to be a cool kid. I was happy to hang around with the in-betweeners. I was like a chamelion. I blended so no one noticed me except a few select besties. I am in still in contact with a few of those besties, despite the fact that I only went to school with them for six motnhs in 1980.

    Glad to see you are making amends for your less than kind, but somewhat creative teasing. I personally thought Sparkles was more imaginative than "Train tracks", "Metal Mouth" or "Tin Grin" and O'Malley is probably now sporting a fabulous set of choppers due to the braces he wore as an adolescent.

  2. It didn't matter that I wasn't the new kid...I barely spoke English, and what I did know was spoken with a very heavy accent so I was fair game for all the bullies. Dodging rocks thrown by these kids on the way home from school was a daily challenge. But it did force me to learn English very quickly, become a journalist and blow large raspberries in the direction of their homes when I passed them...also happily singing..ladedade ladedade.

  3. Funny how we grow to enjoy "different" folk as we grow older - those who were probably ridiculed by their peers in schooldays.
    I remember watching an in-depth television interview of the late John Denver, in which he reminisced about being bullied, as a kid, for various reasons including that he wore spectacles. Denver turned to the the camera and said "Juliet Williams, if you are watching - it's old Fore-eyes here!". He didn't need to add "Na na nana na" - if Juliet WAS watching she would have gotten the message, loud and clear!