Remember when you were a little kid?
Childhood holds the fondest of any memories; it's when we were all innocent. The worst crime you could commit was knocking over a plant or teasing the girl down the street, and all was quickly forgiven, because you "didn't know any better." It's when your parents loved your imperfections, because you were still learning, stillgrowing, and realization didn't quite sink in them yet that you would one day grow up. Then adolescence hit; kids become people.
I wish someone had given me a hint as to what to make myself into back then.
As a kid, I didn't quite understand how to interact with others. I realized this on my first day of kindergarten: the teacher put a kind hand on my shoulder, whispering "Go on, Mikey, have fun,play with the other students," and I would stare ahead with big eyes, horrified of rejection. I would sit at one of the brightly coloured tables, watching while the other children ran around laughing, the girls braiding each others hair, the boys playing with their plastic toys. In a desperate attempt to seem occupied I would fiddle with my glasses until the class would quiet down and gatheraround in a learning circle. As a group we'd have to play games, hold hands and sing; it was kindergarten, after all. The other kids would be ecstatic to do so. I, however, had no drive or motivation whatsoever. My way of putting it was that I simply wasn't alive. Anyone would have to give me a "Come on, Mikey!" or a push on the shoulder to get me to join in with them. But I kept to myself. I was sopainfully introverted, situations with other kids were so unimaginably awkward, and I hated myself for feeling that way. This was the year that life was supposed to begin, a life outside of my home and into a world with other people. It was only kindergarten; sweet, innocent kindergarten, and it became one of the saddest years of my life.
Kindergarten turned into first grade, turned into secondgrade, and nothing changed. My parents had worried about me, I knew they did. I would sometimes walk down the stairs and stop halfway to hear them saying, "Poor Mikey.." "Why doesn't he have any friends to play with?" "Should we talk to him?" and I would always rush back up the stairs and hide in the safety of my bed. Hearing things like this would always make me so sad and on the verge of tears,because deep down I knew they were right. It's not my fault. I wasn't a bad kid. I was just lonely.
I grew used to loneliness, though. I kept people at a distance because I didn't find myself able to care about anyone. How could I care about someone when I didn't even care all that much about myself?
Then again, that's not completely true. For what it's worth, I had my brother Gerard. Hewas my friend. He was three years older than me, and always seemed so brave. He always knew when I was about to cry, and would throw an arm over my shoulder and say "It's okay, Mikes." And I hated myself for crying anyway. Even though I was younger than him, probably not very "cool" by his standards, he would stay by my side until I stopped crying, whether it was from a skinned knee, a meancomment thrown my way from some kid at school, or just out of the sadness of being a child.
Gerard was a strange kid, but he was fun and loving and carefree, and most importantly of all, he had friends to play with. He knew I didn't have many. Out of pure kindness, not just because he had to, he would have his friends over and always say "Come on, Mikey!" and invite me to join them. I'm sure hisfriends didn't want an 8 year old tagging along with them, but Gerard knew how desperate I was, and would tell them I was fun and cool; that I should hang out with them. I wasn't cool, though. And I was far from fun. But he was such a loving brother, and if I had ever loved anybody during those sad, sad years of my life, it was Gerard. Although I'd always decline his invitation, whispering a "No,...