It was 1989; I was in the sixth grade. I was in Mr. Boling’s algebra class. Math was kinda my thing. If Rocket Math were a thing back then like it is in elementary schools now, I would be Buzz Aldrin. Not that it gives me any “cool” points to tell you. That being said, my classmates were mainly kids older than me.
I came to school dressed in a sleeveless romper made out of a heavy cotton, sweatshirt-like material. It was basically a big sleeveless, footed onesie and had a drawstring waist. I know, I know. Be jealous that I was so cool. My mom and I had splatter painted it blue ourselves. I paired it with some slouchy blue leg warmers that I’d borrowed from my grandmother because I thought they were rad. (If you are not familiar with that word, please find a dictionary [app] and learn it.)
Last night, I was putting McBabies #1 & #3 to bed. They insisted on sharing a bed, two little girls with their little heads poking out of assorted Hello Kitty paraphernalia.
“Tell me a story about when you were little.”
It’s kinda the same rigmarole every night. It’s amazing that I’ve lived for close to 4 decades and have a hard time coming up with stories of my life some nights. Often though, I’ll start a story and then happen upon a memory that I didn’t even remember was a memory, much less a real-life happening.
I told them about a day that I wore my splattered blue romper to school and how the older boys in the class whispered, pointed, and laughed at me. I told them about how I had to wear it the rest of the day until the bus dropped me off and I had to wonder if everyone else was doing the same thing behind my splatter-painted back the whole day.
McBaby #1 started laughing uncontrollably. She covered her face so that I couldn’t tell. (I could.) McBaby #3 started laughing because she does whatever #1 does.
I guess it was kinda funny.
I wandered in to McBaby #2’s room for the “one-more-kiss” song and dance. I told him the same story. He responded.
“I like that story.”
What?? I asked him why he liked it if the kids weren’t being nice to me.
“Because I like the way you dress and I love you.”
He hugged me. If you know him, you’ve probably received a hug from him. There’s a name for people like him. * Hugger. * He felt my pain about something a teensy bit sad from a long time ago. He saw me and loved me.
I guess it was kinda sad.
Somehow, last night, it was as if this version of me was able to say to a young(er) version of me that it’s all right. That memory was both funny and sad. And it will be all right. Someday, your kids will hear it retold and will enter it with you in their own way. And you won’t feel alone. And a tiny bit of healing in the retelling will remove the sting.
PS – And… you will still care what people think, but not nearly as much and not really when it comes to what you wear. Exhibit #1: see pic of me dressed in my 4-yr old’s banana costume that he refused to wear to Chick Fil A on our Halloween playdate a couple years back. It came from freaking Pottery Barn and was going to get worn by SOMEONE even if I did have to suck in and stuff myself into a 4T.