Saturday, May 8, 2010

How I Became MissShuganah

I was walking to the house where I went for lunch. The older girls across the street were singing, "They're Coming to Take Me Away, To The Funny Farm Where Life Is Gay." At first I smiled. Silly song. And then I realized that the fat one kept pointing at me. Oh. They wanted me to know they thought I was crazy. I was only eight. They laughed. I don't think they knew I got it. These girls were recess monitors. Fifth graders. Why would they they have a need to make fun of me? I should have been insignificant to them. I didn't even know their names. To this day I am perplexed as to why they would do that. Yes, they were what we'd now call Mean Girls, but, even so, would never make sense to me.

The girls I knew were quite mean and subtle in how they tormented people. On the surface they perpetuated the myth of sugar and spice and everything nice, but, really, girls can be quite cruel. They can also convince boys to do the heavy lifting for them. Boys are dumb about things like that. They will believe anything the girls tell them, and they will do their bidding. The boys would more openly torment me while the girls would sit back and laugh at their foolishness and at my pain. I knew what the girls were doing, but I wanted to be liked so I never let on. And I played my role much to their entertainment. I didn't have enough sense to refuse. More to the point, receiving their negative attention was better than being invisible. In retrospect, invisible would have been preferable. When you are driven by a need to be liked and loved the way I have been and still am, you will do just about anything, even if it means being humiliated almost daily.

My life would have been much easier if I had had the wherewithal to turn things around and Make Them Laugh. I internalized everything. They were laughing at me, and I couldn't laugh at me with them.

I had to provide my own safe haven. I used to console myself by walking around my room and talking to myself in my best Captain Kangaroo voice. I could identify with Captain Kangaroo. Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit would promise not to hurt him, ie, drop pingpong balls on him, and, every day, it was the same broken promise. And, despite that, he could offer soothing tones to his young viewers. I remember, too, that instead of being hurt by the shenanigans of Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit, he would just look chagrined and shrug it off. Captain Kangaroo with Mr. Moose There was something hopeful to me about that. The Captain could remind me, pingpong balls on my head or not, I would somehow manage to survive another day. I also knew that somewhere out there was one kind, compassionate adult. It helped that I could internalize that. It was OK to be me, even if a lot of people didn't think so.

One of the problems I have had over the years being implicitly or explicitly labled as "crazy" is that it has broken down my sense of self esteem and self worth. Worse than that it has caused me do doubt my own very good intuition. I have struggled with pushing away thoughts like, "Maybe they really are right." That would not be so bad if it were just me that I am concerned with, but I have a family now and I must find a way to do what is best for all of us. Along the way I have learned to trust my intuition and my judgment, but often those old doubts still nag at me.

When I advocate for Kid O and for Kid Q, I don't let the doubts enter into my thinking. I know that what I have observed and experienced goes counter to what the professionals say, but I do what I feel is right. That may cause the experts to doubt my veracity, but I will always continue to stand up for my daughters. And for me. That's not so crazy. But it does mean I am MissShuganah.

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