“Haha! You’re funny looking!”
The voices of the kids rang in my head as I willed myself not to cry. But, I couldn’t help it. I saw a teardrop fall into the sand that I had been trying to shape into a pillar for my castle.
I was in kindergarten.
The beginnings of my childhood were the worst. Even to this day, I still don’t understand how children could be so cruel. They don’t use curse words, like the n-word, and they don’t even say those heart-wrenching things you hear when you see two couples fighting (or it may be that you were one of those couples).
They were children. All they knew was the truth. And the truth was, I was different. I had a different look, different lifestyle, different family, different in a bunch of other possible ways. I didn’t have blonde hair or blue eyes. I didn’t have white skin, although I’m pretty sure I was paler than most of the people there. It was the yellow undertone that would make those kids mock me. It was my straight black hair that they would laugh at simply because it wasn’t like the rest of them.
I dreaded every day of kindergarten. I would hide under the covers until my mom came and dragged me up. Every day, I would go into class, already hearing the laughter of my classmates. The teacher was of no use. I would go to her and cry into her long skirt but she would feign ignorance or simply tell me to brush off. How cruel society could be.
It wasn’t until one day as I was playing in my sandbox, creating now the doors to my castle, that the kids came over again.
I heard their start words and before I could stop myself, I stood up angrily with my fist clenched, “Stop it! You all are just bullies!” (Or at least, that’s what I remembered I said, it was over a decade ago).
Then there was just silence. No one said anything for what seemed like forever.
After a while, they walked away and I was left alone to my sandbox. The next day, as I was sitting in my sandbox, I saw the shadows come over me again.
I looked up, getting ready to hear what taunts the other kids would throw at me. However, it was another girl with some of the kids standing there, looking confused. But, the girl was smiling as she held a plastic shovel to me.
“Can we play with you?”
Hesitantly, I nodded, still unsure of this sudden act of what seemed to be friendship.
That day, I was able to finish building my castle, even laughing and having fun with the rest of the kids while we made every part of it. It wasn’t the fact that I was different that they laughed at me. It was that I didn’t stand up for myself. I was afraid of who I was, trying to hide away, day after day, from my problems.
I take this lesson with me in whatever I do. If you truly believe in something, you will stand up for it. You will stand up for yourself and not let anything or anyone else get in your way.