Everything I Like Causes Cancer

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7/16/2008

Blog Share III

Posted by Gwen |

Hey, gang! Just a reminder that today’s post is part of Blog Share. Today this space is a vessel for another blogger's thoughts and words. To the right, in the sidebar, is a list of the participating blogs. Be sure to check them all out, you know you're nosy and want to read everyone's secret stuff.

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Due to my Dad’s line of work my family moved around a lot until I was almost ready to strike out on my own. Before it was time for me to start school, this was no major problem and I actually quite liked the annual or semi-annual uprooting, the packing and arriving at our new destination. Once I started school it wasn’t as much fun any longer.

It must have been because friends became more important and I was aware that time was of the essence. At best we’d stay in the same place a couple of years and my time to make friends was limited by that. I literally bent over backwards to make friends, did everything I could to please various Queens in the different places Dad’s job took us. Since all these places were small, there weren’t a bevy of girls to choose from when trying to make friends – in most cases there were two others my age and me. Three’s a crowd they say, and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times the same scenario played out. Two girls who had known each other since their biggest problem was diaper rash - and me.

The intrigues! (Them)
The bribes! (Me)
The whispering! (Them, or any 2-combination, depending on who was my friend for the day)
The tears! (Mine)
The power!(Theirs)
The misery! (Ours all to share, although we weren’t aware of that)

The summer before I was to start Grade 7, we made the move which was supposed to be the last one as a family. My parents took over Mom’s birth place, a small farm some 30 miles from town. This had been their dream for a long time and we had spent many summer holidays there with our relatives. I would finally go to school with people I had known for more than the last year or two – I would have at least one cousin in the same class. She lived in town and she was going to be my BFF from then on. I was ecstatic!

My cousin and I spent the summer at the farm, dreaming about all the wonderful things that would happen now that we were entering Junior High. I felt confident that this was going to be The Best Year Ever – I had relatives all over the place, my acne seemed to be clearing up somewhat and I had a pair of glasses with frames that (almost) suited me. Every now and then we would spend a day in town and my cousin introduced me to some of her friends and I could hardly wait for school to start.

First day of school. Our homeroom teacher placed us all in alphabetical order with me three or four desks behind my cousin. I had wanted to sit next to her in the next row, but this was not possible with the regimented order our teacher felt was crucial if learning was to take place. At recess we were standing around outside school, sizing each other up. For those who knew each other since before, this was the time to check out new hair cuts, surreptitiously compare the size of budding breasts – or lack thereof and catch up on some gossip. I was the only new girl in class this year and thus somewhat interesting to the others as I stood there beside my cousin. I answered their questions about my previous schools and could discern a bit of envy in their comments. I had after all seen quite a bit more of our country than what any one of my classmates had

For the first few weeks I held on to the hope that school would become fun, because I really didn’t want to admit that my expectations might have been too high. Gradually, my dreams of The Best Year Ever faded. My acne flared up, I still had mostly homemade clothing (mother was an excellent seamstress) that was just a bit off from current fashion and - I lived out in the boondocks. Granted, I wasn’t the only one – but at least “everyone else” lived in villages with other kids while I lived on a farm with my parents and younger siblings.

What about my cousin?

When being related to the new girl didn’t work as a ticket into the crowd around the Resident Queen, she had no use for me any longer. When my results in school were better than hers, I slipped another notch or two in her eyes. I had become a “burden” to her, which she let me know in different ways. But never of course so that our mothers found out. Having a hard time making friends was nothing new to me – but this was the first time a relative did something like this to me. I tried telling Mom about it, but she had nothing much to say.

Except: she didn’t want to upset her sister who “had enough on her plate” without having to deal with our petty tiffs. And, couldn’t I make friends with other girls?

I did make friends, but I never really felt close to anyone. I always expected everyone to find other friends and I suspect this was exactly what made just about everyone drift off eventually. I didn’t dare open up to anyone and thereby I pushed people away.

When it came time for Senior High, I moved to a bigger city and from then on I very rarely saw my cousin or the majority of my other classmates. My difficulties in making friends came along though and it wasn’t really until I was well into my 20’s I forged friendships that have endured over time. I still shudder when I think about those years and sometimes I wonder what - if anything - had been different if our family had stayed in the same place all through my years in school. Would that have made it easier for me in any way, or had my teenage years unfolded the same?

Like an untold number of other families we had to move because of my father’s line of work. That is still the case for many families and will always remain so, but there is another category of families moving that fills me with dread for the children involved.

I’m talking about families (one or two parents) who uproot their children because of their own need to fulfill dreams or chase rainbows. I’ve seen it happen too many times and in my line of work I see these children/teenagers both when they come and go. Children who are moved just when they have found their place in the group and begin to like school – because Mom wants to become a Pilates instructor and the course takes her to Bigville. A teenager arrives at a new school 5 months before finishing Junior High – because the parents have decided to put their money into farming ostriches 60 miles from our town. An insecure girl who was accepted at the Senior High of her choice but has to move with her Mom and siblings because of Mom’s new boyfriend…

Please note: I am not at all advocating that we all stay put no matter what. I do however wish that the welfare of children and teenagers between 6 and 18 would be counted for more when parents decide to move. Is that job in Farawaytown the ultimate step up in my career just now, when my daughter has become captain of the hockey team? Do we really need to move closer to the sea and the sail boat – just when our son has made friends around here? We only get to borrow our children for a short period of time – let’s not mess it up by being too self-seeking to see what is important to them during those few years!

16 comments:

Gwen said...

Thanks for being here and sharing, Anonyblogger!

CityStreams said...

I see those kids at the school where I teach. It's heartbreaking.

Sometimes a move can give a kid a fresh start. But annual and semi-annual moves? Wow! Sounds hard.

Noelle said...

I always blamed my lack of a core group of friends on the fact that I moved to a new school in 1st grade. I can't even imagine doing it every year.

H said...

It's so sad how horrible kids can be to each other. I am amazed as a female how mean girls can be to one another and in the most subtle of ways that over time can break someone. Unfortunately I still see it all too often as a grown woman too. Thanks for sharing.

XOXO,
Heathybear

Shelly said...

Amen, sister! One of the few things my parents did well was to keep me in the same school so that I could stay with my friends.

lizgwiz said...

I dated a guy years ago who had horrible self-esteem problems, and most of it could be directly blamed on his dad, who was "restless" and moved them around constantly for years. Of course, sometimes it can't be helped, but if it can, it should!

nancypearlwannabe said...

I have a huge fear of change, so the idea of moving around so much scares the crap out of me, and I am technically an adult. I don't know how kids can even handle it at all.

heidikins said...

I graduated from high school with the bulk of my kindergarten class (and a couple hundred extra kids). I lived in the same house until I left for college. Hypothetically, that should mean I had a huge group of core friendships. Not so much.

I was the freak in kindergarten--identical twin, freakishly white hair on both of us, we were freaks--and I never really outlived that. The kids who made fun of me in elementary school still made fun of me my Senior year.

I can't tell you how many times I day-dreamed about moving to a new school, a new town, a new everything, just to have a fresh start.

There is always a flip side to every problem. Great post.

xox

Allie said...

I dreamed about being the new girl sometimes too. I think it's a grass is greener thing to some extent -- except for the fact that it was probably so much harder to move than to stay put.

Anonymous said...

I moved several times, but when I got to junior high, my mom said we were done moving until after my sister and I had graduated from high school. I appreciate that my mom stood up for my sister and I, but I wonder how it affected my dad's career (the reason we had been moving).

liberalmudhen said...

Looks like I'm in minority here. When I look around STL or back home in Ohio and see people in their 30's and 40's still hanging out with their high school friends, it strikes me as sad.

As much as it might suck at the time, I think the "moved" kids are better prepared for life compared to those whose parents were afraid to move because little spoiled Johnny's travel hockey team is sooooo important.

Sauntering Soul said...

I'm going to be 40 next month and have never left my hometown (thankfully it's Atlanta so it isn't a teeny tiny podunk town somewhere). I've always felt a little envious of people who have moved around a lot. But as I read your post, my heart kept breaking for you a little more with each sentence. I couldn't help but think about how fortunate I feel to still be friends with somone I've known since I was 5. And I have many other friends I've had for 25, 30 years or more.

I'm sorry so many girls made you feel left out for so many years. You sound like a lovely person and they missed out by not being your friend.

Pants said...

Isn't adolescence a bitch?! I can relate to so much of what you have shared. My family moved a lot through my childhood. The longest we lived in the same place was four years, I went to three high schools and every move sucked a little more of my soul. I have wondered how my life would be if I had a more stable childhood...I definitely wouldn't have been as adept at making friends (as an adult) if I hadn't moved so much but I probably wouldn't have had so much childhood angst if we weren't uprooted every two or three years. I suppose the answer is to do my best not to uproot my own children...if I someday have children.

Moe Wanchuk said...

I moved once....and I fkn HATED it! I still miss my old friends!

I hope I never have to move now...just for my kid's sake.

Courtney said...

I think adolescence is tough no matter if you're the new kid or a familiar face. I hate that your cousin treated you like that and really hate that your mom wasn't there for you during it.

Anonymous said...

I totally understnad! I felt the same way. Always the new girl. My dad's English, with family in England (I was also born there) and my mom is a Russian American who grew up in the Russian community in San Francisco. Every couple of years my mom or dad would get "homesick," and we'd ship all our stuff over the big pond again and again. I vowed never to force my son to change schools needlessly. I even went so far as to home-school him for a couple of years after I remarried and we moved to a different school district.

Maria

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