We’ve talked about the tooth fairy, I’m sure.
Or haven’t we?
I was a kid (of course) and this happened somewhere around the wintertime in second grade. This was a day after a snow day. I was at the bus stop with the other kids.
Everyone was throwing snowballs, which was fun to some degree. I never had much of a throwing arm and besides, I had little hands with little mittens, which meant my snowball-making ability was sub-par. I never liked wearing mittens but this is what Mom gave me.
I used to ask for gloves, —but instead, I had mittens. I had big fluffy, stupid little kid mittens, which caused the older 6th grade kids to pick on me.
Fred was the biggest one. He had long red hair and braces. His snowballs hurt. They were bigger, hit harder, and his aim was accurate.
I remember us running and Fred pegged us with snowballs. He was not overly mean but still, he was a 6th grader and me, I was just a stupid little kid (or so I was told.)
I had been wiggling a tooth in my mouth for days. I anxiously awaited the tooth to fall so that I could place the tooth beneath my pillow.
In exchange, the tooth fairy would replace my tooth with magical money. I wiggled the tooth for days, back and forth, spun it, pushed it, pulled it to the point that it was painful. But pain means little to a kid that believes in the tooth fairy. And finally, just a few moments before the bus pulled up, the tooth gave way.
I was excited. And it was the kind of excited that disregards the other people around me. It was the kind of excited that put a bright smile on my face. I was happy the tooth fell.
Of course, I was happy.
This meant the tooth fairy was going to come. And again, I was excited.
I was the kind of excited that had me speak my mind and express this excitement about a visit from the tooth fairy without considering my surroundings.
Enter Fred . . .
He laughed at me. Called me a stupid little kid. He laughed and said, “You probably still believe in Santa Claus?”
Fred laughed at me. “There ain’t no tooth fairy you idiot.”
“That’s your mother.”
I answered back in a confused way. I was confused why Fred would think such things. I was confused why someone would laugh and be mean when I was so happy about a visit from something I believed in.
“My Mom is not the tooth fairy!”
I still couldn’t understand why Fred would say this. Why would he be this way? I knew he liked to hit kids with snowballs, but to take shots at the tooth fairy? That’s just not right.
Fred explained the exchange. He told me that my mother waited until I fell asleep. Then she slid the tooth out from beneath my pillow and put money in its place.
He laughed with his wiry braces that looked colder than the icy snow. He laughed at my little kid mittens. He laughed about my little kid idea that there was such a thing as the tooth fairy. Put simply, he laughed at me. He laughed at me in front of everyone
Naturally, I argued. I had to defend myself. I told Fred he was wrong. He called me a stupid kid. Then Fred challenged me. He told me to try putting my tooth under the pillow without telling my mother. With n other choice, I had to accept it.
Anyway, I was fine to do this. I was fine to defy him. I was fine because I was sure to prove Fred wrong.
All day, I had a plan to place my tooth beneath the pillow. All day, I thought about the feeling I had when the tooth fell. I thought about how happy I was and how that feeling was stolen from me.
So what if I was just a little kid . . . so what if I believed in the tooth fairy or Santa . . . who does this hurt?
I wondered why it was so bad to just be me. But then I wondered why I spoke. Why did I have to say anything? Why couldn’t I have just kept this to myself? Life would be so much easier if i just didn’t speak or ever seem foolish.
All day, I wished I was able to hold my tongue. I wish I kept my excitement like a secret. I wished I had never said anything. If only the tooth fell out an hour sooner or if it fell out an hour later, I would have been fine to have my own private excitement without interruption.
That night, as challenged, I placed the tooth beneath my pillow. I was ready to prove Fred wrong. I was ready to laugh in his red-headed, freckle-face.
I envisioned the morning of me, waking up to find my tooth gone, and in exchange, magical money would be placed in the same spot. Eventually, I fell asleep. And eventually, I woke up.
First thing, I darted my hand beneath my pillow with excitement to prove Fred wrong.
I searched and immediately felt my tooth. I lifted the pillow and looked around. I hoped that maybe the tooth fairy forgot to take the tooth and left money. But there was no magical money. There was just my little bony tooth.
I rolled my tooth around in my hand to inspect it. There was nothing wrong with my tooth. It looked like a perfectly good tooth to me.
Anyone that collected teeth would want this one. But no. I guess Fred was right. There was no tooth fairy.
I walked downstairs with my tooth in hand. Mom was making my favorite cinnamon toast with hot cocoa. I told her about the tooth to which she replied in an excited voice, “Looks like someone is getting a visit from the tooth fairy tonight.”
I answered back like a jaded soul.
“Just give me the money,” I said.
Mom could tell I was defeated. She offered me some hot cocoa. I said, “Skip it. Just give me a cup of coffee. Milk, two sugars. Cocoa is for stupid little kids,” I told her.
There are times when we speak and wish we didn’t. There are times when we find ourselves bullied and times when we wish were invisible.
There were times I wished to God that no one would notice me. At the same time, it sucks feeling unnoticed. I just wanted to be liked.
Is that so crazy?
The hard part for a child to understand is that whether there is a tooth fairy or not; whether Santa is real or not (but of course, we all know he is) whether we believe in the man on the moon or we enjoy what it feels like to be a kid and play pretend, no one ever has the right to take away the feeling of wonder and excitement from a child.
I often think of this story and regard it when discussing the bully topics with kids in school. The trick to happiness is to live without regard to what other people say or do.
This does not mean pain won’t happen. It certainly does not indicate that people will not be mean; however, there needs to be a method that separates us.
We need to find a way to keep our happiness safely away from predators that lost their happiness due to their own hang ups in life.
Truth is happy kids do not bully others. But angry ones do. Truth is bullied kids hold their memories (like I do.) And bullies carry their memories too.
I once saw someone that bullied me in a taco bell. I never realized how small he was. Then again, I was just a little kid when he picked on me.
But this little kid grew. And he didn’t.
I suppose I understood more about this bully now that I was older. I understood more about his “little guy” complex but still, I felt that old feeling when I saw him; I was half afraid, half weak, partly angry, and partly considering a violent form of revenge.
These things we have in our minds, which we refer to as memory; they do not always do us justice. They contact the feeling station in our mind and dredge the past like it’s real and possibly happening again.
When I hear the word bullying, I think of the times I spoke as kid and wish I didn’t. I think of the things that happened and the humiliation I went through. I think of the bigger kids and how I wished they would like me. I also think of the times I found myself on the conveyor belt in the rumor factory, chewed up and spit out..
If could go back and tell the little me anything, I would tell me that they are not so important (and by they, I mean the system of people I felt intimidated by.)
I would say that being me is a good thing.
I would tell me to stay with the people that help, not hurt.
Do not interact with the pain or the thoughts.
Walk away whenever possible and do not share your excitement with people that do not deserve it.
See, to a kid, excitement is worth more than gold. But to a kid, we share this wealth because we think we should.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
It just means we need to be mindful.
If I could tell the little me anything, I would say share your excitement with the good kids and not the bad ones. I would tell me not to work so hard to gain friendships. I would say, don’t sell yourself short to anyone, kid.
Never do that.
I would say bullying is like cold or a virus, which means it’s contagious and it spreads.
I would also suggest I find an outlet.
I would tell me to find a new surrounding.
Be advised that bullying is a theft of services.
Bullying is the theft of hopes and dreams and happiness.
Be advised, there is no theft worse than the theft of someones childhood.
If I could tell me anything I would tell me about the love I feel for myself now and how I have to move away from the pain.
I have to learn to see the better things in myself.
I would explain, trust me kid.
You are beautiful . . .
I would tell me to get away from the hurtfulness; otherwise, the pain can be contagious and degenerative.
Pain hurts. Not the “Ouch” pain that mom puts a band-aid on. I’m talking about the broken heart pain. I mean the kind that makes a kid wish he wasn’t around anymore. Believe me; Pain from the heart hurts worse than any bruise or broken bone.
If I could say anything, I would tell me get away from the crowd that holds you back. I would explain there’s an entire life you have to live.
I would say your happiness was already stolen from you once. Don’t volunteer to have this stolen from you again because trust me, volunteering for something like becomes habit forming too.
And that’s the real crime. It’s not the one or two time bullying thing. It’s the remnants and the shame that hurts. It’s the lingering effects that broke me. It’s the fact that I forfeited my childhood and nearly gave up on myself.
See what I mean?
Bullying is a theft
So to you, I say this:
Don’t let that happen kid.
Don’t let them steal your smile
It’s more beautiful than you think