Have you ever felt like you were in a room and everyone in that room hated you? Well, welcome to 2nd grade, Westley. I remember it like it was yesterday. 2nd grade is such a big step in our educational journey, and I felt like I didn’t fit in with any of my peers. Reading is more challenging, you start diving into our country’s history, and your handwriting begins its journey in cursive writing. I was in a special program called Rabbit Readers; this was a program that helped students that struggled with reading. Once a week, we were pulled out of class and brought into a room to help develop our reading skills. I enjoyed this group, mainly because everyone in this group struggled with reading. It was a safe place—but once that hour session was over, we returned to our regular class.
Every day in class, our teacher would have each student read a paragraph aloud in front of the class. I remember the feeling of anxiety as the game of Reading Roulette started. I wouldn’t even listen to my peers read; I would count the paragraphs and start trying to read the words in my head where I could get through it when it was my turn. Ok, I am next. I began reading, and about every three words, I would stop, and the teacher would help me sound out the word.
The laughter began.
The laughter grew.
The laughter that I still hear to this day when I read aloud. The laughter that I hear right now while I am writing this very sentence. Friends, the laughter never stops. I promise. But, we have a choice to allow the laughter to affect us negatively. And, if I could travel back in time, I would have stood up, put my reading glasses on, and went down the row and read every one of those ugly children for filth!
His name was Larry. One of the alpha males in my 2nd-grade class. He was never mean to me, and I don’t think he meant to hurt me—but he did. We were in the restroom, at the urinal (I hate urinals, they are so disgusting, and I think they should be banned), and he started screaming at me. “What are you looking at, faggot?” This was the first time in my life that I was called a faggot, definitely not the last. I didn’t know what the word meant, but I knew it was terrible, and it was meant to hurt me—and it did. I remember running out of the restroom and running into my teacher’s arms. She embraced me, and I told her what happened. She did nothing to Larry—just told everyone that the restroom is not a playground.
It amazes me how vivid these memories are—why do bad memories overpower the good memories? I don’t know the answer; now, I focus on the positive and try not to give the negative any of my attention. That is difficult, it takes practice, but you have to start by celebrating the joy in your life. If you only look at the negative, you will miss all of the joy in your life.
© 2020, Westley Hodges (firstname.lastname@example.org)