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My First Bullies

How old were you when you met your first bullies? I met mine before I joined the public school environment

By The Passionate AutisticPublished 2 months ago 24 min read
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My First Bullies
Photo by Road Ahead on Unsplash

I seemed to have magnetic properties that would attract all the biggest, most unpleasant bullies. I started at Preschool, a tender young age of 4. I was quiet, shy, and timid but would always try coming out of my shell. I'd first meet Mark who could never decide if he really wanted to be my friend or not. When it was just us he wanted play, but when the older kids were around, he'd become a bully.

The daycare had one section for pre-school and the other side was for all the other kids. But each morning we'd all meet on the bigger kids side for breakfast and see them off to school. I'd spend at least one day a week fighting the daycare over Red River 'cereal', the bane of my breakfast existence. I'd sit there in the same struggle I'd probably spent the previous night in over canned green beans.

On the mornings I did finish my breakfast in a timely fashion, I'd try to make friends. It just seemed hard to find any that liked me.

“Look what that kids wearing today! His mom must have dressed him!" kids would often say pointing and laughing. I'd just look down sad. I was a terrible liar and my mom did dress me. Eventually I'd just start wearing plain T-shirts, mostly in black. I'd start eliminating things from my life that caused me to be ostracized, ridiculed, bullied. If I didn't wear logos or fads, I had nothing to keep up with. Otherwise I was often late to what was popular, couldn't afford it to begin with, or unsuspectingly creating fads no one would attribute to me.

It's tough always feeling so alone, at least until you find the strength to travel on your own. I'd continue to seek affection from others, even my bullies. Once the bigger kids left, Mark became an entirely different kid. One like me, who was just searching for a friend. But these were only temporary friendships that only left me hurt and confused. I'd never know what to expect from day to day, and would grow exhausted needing to expect things at such a young age.

Three comprised the bully group. Thomas was the leader of them, no one could challenge his position. Lanky was a tall boy with a stick frame. And Stanky, who was rather round and smelt like cheese that had been left out in the sun. One morning, everyone was huddled around Thomas who was sitting on a bench playing with the newest in technology; The Gameboy.

By Ravi Palwe on Unsplash

"Critical hit!" he cheered. They were playing the latest craze of every little boys current addition; Video games. At least while it wasn't uncool to play them. Streaming was far off in a future nerds would have never dreamt of. In particular, it was Pokemon Blue he was playing.

I couldn't see too much. I'd be a tiny boy for a long while. You know what they say about tiny feet, right? A ton of bullying. "What are you playing?" I asked curiously.

"Pokemon," Thomas retorted, "It's a lot of fun. Too bad you can't play it," a sentiment that would become a staple for most of my life. Double standards around anything and everything. What I was or wasn't allowed to do. Sharing, caring, and respect. Who I was or wasn't allowed to date. What was cool or uncool. A minefield of just trying to get by. He added, "What? Are your parents too poor for a Gameboy or something?"

I looked down sadly. We did seem pretty poor, but Thomas' friends didn't seem much richer. "Lanky can't afford one..." I murmured.

"My mom just said not right now!" Lanky defended.

"Oh..." I said, confused on what the difference was.

"You can watch though," Thomas said.

***

When summer vacation arrived, my bullies were at the daycare much more frequently. I had a fake computer, a 90s Vtech Laptop. Most of the keyboard was for show with only 4 buttons really working, it didn't even contain a digital display which was left up to the imagination. Cards went in the top and the notches on the side told the battery operated system what game I was playing. It would then ask me questions and I'd use one of the four buttons to answer them. It paled in comparison to a Gameboy, but I still loved it when I didn't despise it's lack of wow factor.

I fought with Mother Teresa to bring it to daycare one day. I complained that I never got to play with anything I wanted and the other kids always brought their own toys but wouldn't share. She gave up arguing and warned me that if it got lost or broke, not to be upset. That was always fine with me, until it broke obviously.

"That's neat," Rachel, a girl my age said as I showed her my favourite toy. She was always nice to me so I didn't mind sharing with her, although she probably just wanted to draw and colour.

"It's okay..." I said, not always as pleased with it, wishing I had something more to show off. I showed her how it worked.

"I don't like math..." she sighed looking at the card.

"That's okay... there's only a few math games. Some are matching or colour games,"

She took a liking to the other games and we took turns playing in the crafts and arts area. I was preoccupied, not searching for friends or a place I belonged, so my bullies sought me out instead.

"What are you two doing?" Thomas asked approaching our table.

"Nothing," I said, just wanting them to leave us alone.

"Well, let me try it out," he said excitedly reaching to grab the toy.

I leapt like a boy out of hell, swiftly grabbing the Vtech and cards. I folded them up into my chest, "No!" I sternly said eyeing up Thomas, watching for his next moved.

"What's that about?" he asked.

I decided to negotiate, "If you let me and Rachel play your Gameboy, I'll let you use this,"

"Yeah right! My Gameboy is worth like 10 times what your hunk of junk is!" Thomas said.

"That's the deal," I said, clenching harder.

"Whatever than, it's stupid and I didn't want to play with it anyways!" he said, storming off with his posse.

"You could have just let them try it quick..." Rachel said.

"No! They're always mean to me!" I scowled at her for not understanding.

Lunch approached so I stowed the cards away in the back of the Vtech and set it down on a counter by the lunchroom. We agreed to eat and go right back to playing. Rachel was having a good time and I enjoyed that she was. But when we strolled out of the lunchroom after and looked at the counter, my toy was gone. "I set it right here! Where could it have gone?!" I asked frantically.

While I began having a tiny meltdown, Rachel calmly suggested we look around the daycare for it, perhaps a caretaker unknowingly put it in one of the toy boxes. We rifled through them and looked on shelves, but found nothing.

"Let's check the arts and crafts area!" Rachel suggested smiling.

"Okay..." I said, worried that she might get sidetracked wanting to colour instead. As I turned the corner, the Vtech toy came into view. Thomas was aggressively mashing buttons with his grimy sausage fingers. Card inserts scattered among the table.

"I don't get this... I've put in different cards, but how do I start the game?" he asked.

"Smack it a couple times," Lanky laughed, "That's what I do when my Nintendo isn't working!"

"Hey!" I shouted, "That's mine!" I ran towards them.

He grabbed the computer in much the same fashion I had earlier but hadn't bothered to grab the cards, "I'm using this... ROMEO," he said, emphasizing my name.

"But you didn't ask and I didn't say you could use it!" I argued matter of factly.

"Well I guess you shouldn't just leave your stuff lying around if you don't want me to assume I can use it," he said.

I knew I had no chance of wrestling it away from him, but I also knew it was completely useless without the cards. Even if he did manage to get it working on his own, he'd quickly grow bored with only one game. I made a jolt forward as Thomas leaned back.

"Lanky!" he shouted out, motioning with his head towards the cards once he realized I wasn't after the computer.

It was too late and he didn't have arms like Mr. Fantastic. I scooped them all into my hand and arranged them neatly, "You only have one card if you can even figure it out," I said hoping he'd just give up.

"Well.." Thomas stated, getting more aggressive with the toy, "How do you get this stupid thing working..."

"You're going to wreck it!" I said, clenching the cards and pushing towards him. We struggled to and fro, me trying to wrestle the computer out of his hand while he tried smacking the cards out of mine. As it escalated, a caretaker would overhear the commotion and come to separate it.

"What's the meaning of this?" she asked.

"Thomas stole my computer!" I said.

Thomas did what most bullies would do, put on a sweetheart act and in comparison to my mounting frustration and melting down over adolescence, I often came out the worse. "Well ma'am, he just left it on the counter. I didn't think he'd mind if I tried it out while he finished lunch,"

I'd already come to find there was no point in arguing with the sweetheart course of action, "Okay. I'm done lunch, so I'll take it back now, please and thanks," I said, extending my arms out to accept my own offer.

"I didn't even figure out how to get it working so I didn't get to try it," Thomas said looking at the caretaker with deep eyes.

"Why don't you show Thomas how to play, Romeo?" she said trying to reach an amicable solution, "We all have to share you know,"

"But they never share with me! I've asked Thomas to try his Gameboy and he never lets me play it!" I said while knowing it wouldn't matter.

"We'd let you use the Gameboy buddy, you just always ask when I let someone else try it or when I just get a new game. Just asking at the wrong times," he said playing it up, patting me on the back.

That was enough to satisfy the caretaker but not for me who knew I'd never get to try out that Gameboy. "No!" I shouted.

"If you can't share, we'll just have to put it away for the rest of the day," she threatened.

I wasn't happy that I wouldn't get to play with it, but if she took it away now, that would mean that Thomas would never get to try out my fake computer.

"Okay..." I said, handing her the cards, "they go in the back of the computer,"

Thomas was a bit reluctant as he handed over the Vtech, possibly also thinking I'd have sooner conceded to showing him how to use it. The caretaker put the cards in the back and walked away without saying another word. Thomas repeated that it was stupid and he didn't actually want to play with it anyways. I was sad though, not understanding why rules only seemed to apply to me no matter where I was.

I was also sad because I had found someone to enjoy it with. Rachel attempted to comfort me, "It'll be okay Romeo, you'll get it back at the end of the day and you can play some more at home!" she gave me a hug and said, "Why don't we do some arts and crafts?!" There was a princess drawing she'd been eager to colour.

But I was far too sad for arts and crafts, now just wanting to be alone. "No thanks..." I stammered as I turned and walked away. Going somewhere I hoped I wouldn't be noticed.

By the time I'd get my own Gameboy and enter Pallet town to grab my Pikachu, the game had grown long unpopular with the kids. It was now like Power Rangers; for babies. I'd have to enjoy it in secret. I did get a small taste of the power though, for Mother Teresa would buy me the newer, Gameboy Pocket variety, so for a tiny fraction of time, I had the latest technology and the awe that came with it.

By Guillermo Diaz on Unsplash

Mom also didn't know much about Pokemon except that I liked Charizard. After some complaining, she would exchange the older Red version for the newer, harder Yellow version. Like the protagonist of the series Ash who had slept in and was late to get his first Pokemon, I also found myself in much the same situation, also late to getting my first Pokemon. Thus I decided to play the game in the same way the animated series happened. I might never evolve my Bulbasaur. At least until I wanted a completed Pokedex...

***

I'd always been a nerdy stereotype. Eventually it would help me come to some brain answers. My mom always asked three times before we left the house if I had to pee, and fifteen minutes into the trip I'd tell her I had to pee. That irregularity only carried over to other situations. It happened a lot when we had outside time scheduled at the daycare. I wouldn't have to go before we went outside, but shortly after I'd need to pee. Outside time was always an hour long.

You'd think that having family relations at a daycare would have awarded me some sort of benefits, but not here. I'd often get the impression from family that I was simply a nuisance. Now she was growing increasingly frustrated with Tiny Romeo who might have been more regular than anything. Perhaps they should have just moved outside time up 15 minutes!

One day, she'd pulled me aside, "If you have to use the washroom Romeo, use it now. I'm not bringing you back in halfway through to pee," she told me with irritation echoing from her voice. I didn't have to pee, but I didn't have control over such things so now I was worried. Already defeated and not wanting to deal with other kids to see if I could play, I played alone. I sat on a tire that had partially fused into the bottom layer of sand. I'd try from time to time to dislodge it, but was never strong enough. One arm propped on my knee, hand supporting my chin, the other hand drew meaningless scribbles into the sand.

I sat there minding my own business, another testament to never winning. Sitting alone turned out no better than trying to be included. I picked off specks from the tire, wondering if it would erode away as the bullies approached me.

"Hey..." I said with little excitement.

"What are you doing?" Thomas asked.

"Just drawing in the sand..." I told him.

"Sounds like tonnes of fun," he replied in a flat tone.

Since they'd sought me out, I wondered if they wanted me to play with them, "Not really... Can I join you guys?"

"No way!" he quipped at me.

"Why not?" I asked, confused.

"We don't like you, Romeo," he blankly stated, speaking for the group but no one argued.

"Oh..." I said, wondering what was wrong with me. No one seemed to like me except a Tiny Romeo sized handful of people, and I had tiny hands.

"Yeah. And you're gonna stay in this tire for the rest of outside time. If you wander away or even get up, I'm going to beat the shit out of you, got it?" Thomas inquired.

"Yeah..." Tiny Jory assured him, more defeated but trying not to cry in front of my bullies.

"Good," he said, turning around and motioning his lackey's to follow.

I did as I was told. I silently cried when they weren't looking, but otherwise I just sat there, a sad little boy. My one tiny arm back to propping myself up, trying to hold a Tiny Romeo together.

I was in for a long sit and that day was bound to be no exception. Except the dealer had doubled down with the odds already stacked high against me. Ultimatums from both the caretaker and my bully. And right on cue 15 minutes into being outside, those washroom urges crept in. The first of many catch 22's I can remember throughout life.

I sat there for what felt like an eternity of time to a five year old. It started to hurt my tiny bladder. With about 15 minutes left, I couldn't hold my pee anymore. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was going to be in trouble. If I went to go pee, the caretaker would tell me to hold it for the rest of outside time, or she'd get frustrated and irritated. A lecture would ensue. And at the end of all that, I'd broken the bullies rule so I'd inevitably get that ass pounding. On the other hand, I was very well aware if I peed my pants, I was subject to the ridicule of such, and was going to get in trouble with the caretaker. Both ended with the caretaker mad, but only one situation ended up with my ass getting kicked.

So I just sat there in some spatial void I couldn't leave. I tried to minimize it by pulling my tight jeans up as much as I could and try to aim out the 'sleeve' while not getting up off the tire. It didn't help. I soiled the tire, dirt, and my clothes, leaning over embarrassed, twirled my finger in a part of the sand I had desecrated. I gently cried so no one would hear.

They called for us to come in. I'd wanted to leave that tire for the longest time, and now I didn't want to go. Other kids ran amok in their normal kid existences. Once everyone was shuffling inside, that caretaker took a look around to see nothing but a stubborn Tiny Romeo not following directives.

"Romeo, I said to come in!" she shouted. I just sat there, not knowing what to do, just waiting to get in trouble. She'd give up on a one-sided verbal shouting match and come over to drag me out, instantly noticing the small lake I was sitting in. Yelling ensued.

"You said I couldn't use the bathroom until we all went back in..." I sobbed. Not bothering to tell her about the rest.

"Well, if you had to go that bad, you should have come and got me!" she said dragging me as I started to bawl. That wasn't one of the options given to me. It was "Go now, or forever hold your pee,". I was never getting anything right...

***

I started Kindergarten but those were only half days, I still had afternoons to fill at the daycare before Mother Teresa showed up to save me. I wasn't adept at sports, having terrible coordination, finding myself dribbling better over the ladies than a basketball. But the daycare was installing a new basketball court and that excited everyone. One week after the tar was laid, we could play. But I only played once at the daycare.

Once the red tape came down, Thomas had some announcements to make. The basketball court was his and his alone. If anyone wanted to play, they had to ask him first. That only worked for a couple of weeks before the girls complained. The caretakers informed Thomas the court was for everyone. That rule ended almost as quickly as it started, but like most rules, an exception was still made. He'd personally pull me aside to let me know the rule still stood for me.

It was a hot, blistering day and we'd just come back to eat lunch. Mark located me after, needing someone to play with. Or perhaps reeling me in.

"Hey Romeo, want to play some basketball?" he inquired.

I really did. It looked difficult but fun so I wanted to try it out with less people around. "Oh... I can't... Thomas said I still have to ask him first before I'm allowed to play," I reminded him.

"Ah.... He won't even find out..." Mark assured me.

I struggled with it for a moment but really wanted to try this basketball thing out. Really wanted to miss those three pointers and not be able to dunk. It would take me years to understand I needed to put forward momentum into my dribbles. It didn't take long for Mark to grow frustrated and very unimpressed with Tiny Romeo.

"Wow, you suck at this!" he said.

"Yeah... I know..." I replied with a frown. It was my first time trying... Thomas let him play all the time.

"I'm gonna go do something else," he said wandering away.

I tried throwing a couple more hoops, but with each one I missed, I just grew more discouraged reflecting on my lack of any ability and friends. It wasn't long after that that I was done with the sport. But having never been allowed to play, I didn't know where the ball was supposed to go after. I set it down beside the hoop, which seemed as appropriate a spot as any. I wandered off, no longer thinking about it.

We went in for our snack and the older kids arrived shortly after. Lanky suggested they play basketball, Thomas wasn't as thrilled. He was king of the court but that magic had quickly worn off of him. He'd agree but we weren't scheduled for more outside time so Thomas would have to tug at those heart strings. It was a beautiful day out, how could they even think of denying a kids request to go out and enjoy such weather? With it organized, Thomas went to get the basketball, but it wasn't where it should be.

"Hey... Where's the basketball?" Thomas asked Mark, assuming he'd played with it last.

"I don't know, Romeo was playing with it last I think," he said casually as Thomas ears piqued up. Now I was screwed.

"Romeo was playing basketball?" Thomas inquired, curious look on his face. Mark confirmed and Thomas wasn't happy, "I thought I told you you weren't allowed to play basketball?"

"Mark asked if I wanted to play with him so I thought it would be alright..." I replied.

"But you didn't ask me first, right?" he replied and then said, "So where's the ball now?"

"I wasn't sure where it went after I was done so I just left it by the basketball hoop," we got ready to go outside and I led them to where I'd left the ball. The heat was apparent and could be seen radiating off the tarmac. The ball wasn't where I'd left it, "I swear, I put it right there, against the pole!" I pointed and began panicking. Thomas would not be happy if the only good ball was lost and his temper was already rising.

Looking around from the hoop, I noticed the ball underneath the platform deck, "There it is!" I exclaimed pointing to it.

"You left it out here, go and get it!" Thomas quipped.

I reluctantly went to grab it, worried about spiders that might be lurking underneath. Or what if that deck was waiting for an unsuspecting child to venture under before collapsing? It looked quite old. I'd been right about one thing, a lot of spider webs were under there so I retrieved it quickly and handed it to Thomas. Then he asked if I wanted to play with them.

By now I'd become suspect to his more friendly advances, but maybe today would be different. It didn't make a lot of sense, because the teams would be uneven. I hadn't learned to dribble or shoot any better, but hoped that being on a team might help. I was surprised Thomas was quick to put me on his team. I assumed he wanted to charge at me or beat me by 30 points and brag.

It started out like my first game had, and didn't take long before I screwed up my first dribble, missed my first pass, and made a shot that didn't reach the net by a mile. With each miss, Thomas grew increasingly frustrated. I grew sad because I figured if I could be good at anything moderately cool, I'd at least have something. With each growing tick of his frustration, each pass also flew through the air with increased ferocity to the point I wasn't able to catch them regardless.

He wound up for a pass, hurling it more like a baseball. All I could figure to do was block the incoming missile. Arms extended forward with my palms and fingers stretched out, bracing myself with squinted eyes. It smacked my palms, dropping to the ground and rolling away as I winced, waving my tiny hands around from the stinging.

"You suck!" Thomas shouted as he walked towards me. I frowned. I didn't need him to tell me that, I already knew. "Go get the ball," he told Lanky, "You can't do anything can you? Can't even catch a ball," Thomas said redirecting to me. The outcome I should have anticipated.

Lanky came back and Thomas took the ball. He thrust it towards my stomach and I dropped like a sack of tar, winded, melding into the asphalt. The surface had been absorbing the suns rays all day, hot enough to bleed through the fabric of my clothes. These were instances that left invisible scars. Ones that would impact me, but remain invisible. The pain I'd never forget. A tiny me, some 2000 days old. Feeling the heat, the tarry, oily uneven surface digging into my face.

Winded, I still tried elevating my head and arms while the four boys huddled around me. The basketball had stopped near my head. Perhaps that's where Thomas had gained his inspiration. He picked up the ball, held it in two hands and extended them out directly over Tiny Romeo's slightly elevated head. At least he'd be kind enough to not apply downward force, instead handing the responsibility over to gravity to do his dirty work.

By Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

I'm not proficient in physics, so I wouldn't sell you my calculations as accurate. But if they are, by the time the basketball hit Tiny Romeo head, dropped from a much taller, older Thomas, it was travelling at a speed of 4.235 meters a second. About 45% of terminal velocity. It fell on the side of my head, causing a ripple effect of pressing into my face, forcing my face into the blistering asphalt, and then bouncing off the ground. I laid in a daze while they laughed at the spectacle. The surface still glistened like there was oil on it. It seared my face like raw meat. My entire body grew hot, absorbing the heat, trying to take what refuge I could in the shadow of my bullies.

"You see what happens when you don't listen, Romeo?" Thomas said. I was unable to move, but this time, not unable to stop myself from crying. The ball had bounced away to which one of the lackeys had retrieved it.

"Can I drop it?" he asked Thomas.

"Go for it,"

They each took turns dropping and retrieving the ball from the side of my face. It meshed into the ground as my ears began ringing. I could barely make out Mark say, "Maybe we should stop now..." which shocked me a bit.

"This court is ours and maybe now you'll remember that," Thomas said walking away, leaving me to fry like an egg on the asphalt. That side of my face felt like it was melting and I began to worry what I'd look like with half a melted face. I'd probably get bullied more. That encouraged me to find the will to flip onto my back. Now it was just my head that needed to endure a bit more while I continued to recover.

No caretakers would notice me whimpering on the ground. They often stood as lookout on the deck, but the basketball court was somewhat out of view blocked by the side of the deck. I'd eventually get myself up, wiping off the loose asphalt and pebbles. I didn't bother to tell anyone. I couldn't fathom what punishment I'd receive from Thomas that could be worse than what I'd have tattled on for. And I'd already started the long, childhood process of adults brushing my pleas off. Either because 'boys will be boys' or I must have an imaginative imagination. I floated on. A lonely soul just wandering the playground for solace.

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