|This cranky re-run is from June 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.