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It was my first day at a new school. The desks were grouped into sets of four. At the beginning of class, the teacher introduced me to my pupils and assigned me to an empty seat. As soon as I sat down, the blond hair boy sitting across from me (we will call him John) snickered the words “hey fatty”, aimed at me, and just loud enough for the class to hear. The students around me erupted with impaling giggles. The teacher only said, “John, that’s enough”.

I felt my heart throbbing in my throat. I wanted to run crying from the room. Was I fat? I never thought so. Instead of crying, I forced myself to act unaffected and shrug it off.

Every bullied kid quickly learns that to do anything but shrug it off, will always make it worse.

By the end of that first day, John had marked me as his territory. He had a friend, Mike, and the two of them spent day one making sure I knew that I was unwelcome and unwanted. They called me every “fat name” they could think of, including fat-ass, fat-lard, and fat-boy. By the end of the day, they had rallied at least half of my classmates to refer to me simply as “Lardo”. I went home that first day and told my parents that “school was fine”. Then I went to my room and cried.

On day two, the “fat” comments got worse. Most of the class was now participating. Not one person defended me. Not one person stepped in. The teacher heard some of the worst of it, and never offered me assistance. At recess, I asked another boy where the bathroom was. He pointed to the entrance of the girl’s bathroom. Not realizing what it was, I went inside. Girls started screaming, and I ran back out to a playground full of pointing fingers and raucous laughter.

Day three. Worse. Day four. Worse. Day five. Worse.

Day six. I went home from school and began bawling uncontrollably to my mother. I remember it as if it was this morning. She kept asking me what was wrong. I finally mustered the words, “this one kid keeps calling me fat”. I didn’t tell her the whole truth. The real truth. She gave me a hug and told me it would be okay. Things would get better.

They didn’t. Day seven. Worse. Day 10 Worse. Day 30. Way worse.

Because, John and Mike never stopped. They never gave me a day off. And while their bullying hit maximum levels within a few days of school starting, the self loathing grew until I actually hated myself. You see, I actually began to believe that I was all those things. I believed I was fat. I believed I was ugly. And for me, every day it did get worse, because every day their words and their punishments took me to a level deeper and sadder than the day before.

It was by the end of fifth grade that I officially hated myself. My first day at that school was just seven weeks before we let out for the summer. It took only seven weeks to siphon out every droplet of love that I had for myself.

The next year brought no better days.

It got so bad, and my despair grew so deep, that by the middle of sixth grade the only thing I could do was wish that John and Mike would die. I would pray nightly for something, anything, anybody to come and kill them. I would fantasize about gruesome car accidents, fire-filled buildings, and random violence coming to my aid. I would not have cried one tear had those two boys ended up covered in dirt, resting eternally in pine boxes. In fact, I would have been happy. Very, very happy.

But, they never died. And my life got worse.

And then junior high hit. John and Mike kept dishing out their normal routine. I kept praying for them to die. God never did answer that prayer. At least not the way I wanted him to.

And I, the fat-ass, ugly, and worthless seventh grader, became a target for bigger, more vicious bullies. Little did I know that my life was about to get a lot worse…