Monday, July 28, 2008

Meeting The 12 Year Old Me - a look back in time

The 12 Year Old Me

As I approached the young boy who was standing in the hall, at first glance he looked like a happy, outgoing, typical 6th grader. When I stopped to watch how he interacted with the kids around him, I noticed his uncomfortable posture. It was easy to see that he felt out of place. I could plainly see the internal struggle behind his cleverly constructed fa├žade.

After watching him for a few minutes, I decided to go up and talk to him. As I got closer, I knew that he would be dismissive. He saw me approaching and quickly looked away, as to not invite any conversation. I leaned up against the wall where he stood and plainly said, “Hello.” He looked at me briefly and responded with an unenthusiastic, “Hey.” Noticing several scars on his face and arms, I knew that he had been through quite a lot for a 12 year old boy.

After trying to strike up a conversation a few times and being brushed off by him, with his one word responses, I knew that I would need to try a new approach.

Not wanting him to leave, I invitingly said, “I grew up in a town…exactly like this one…and DAMN it was hard. How do you do it?” I felt that putting him in the power position or position of giving the advice might be the way to go. He told me that it was easy…”all about making friends. When everyone likes you…life is smooth.”

I could not help but to chuckle a bit and say, “I used to think that way too. It wasn’t until I grew up and left my childhood friends behind that I realized that I was not sure who I really was…as a man.” I looked at him, hoping for an inquisitive response. He, partially, turned to me and said, “Yeah, well…I gotta do what I gotta do to get through.”

I completely understood that attitude…as I still feel that way sometimes myself. I felt kind of frustrated that he wouldn’t really talk to me…and didn’t seem to be listening.. But then again, the things that I wanted to say to him…(level with people, stop and think, cry, be honest with yourself) are all things that I don’t even do all of the time. Do as I say…not as I do.

I looked back at him and uttered, “Well…I live here now and will always be her if you ever need someone to talk to. You can come to me with anything…questions about sex, girls, friendships, school, parents, siblings…anything…I’ve been through it all.” He just looked at me, with an enough already look on his face and said, “I can deal with it. Things are fine.”

I told him that I would still be there for him…day or night. Then I reiterated to him that I grew up in a situation just like his and that it all seemed good, but that I had no feeling of independence and that everything that I did was a direct effort to blend in, become a leader among my peers and increase the number of friends that I had…inside I felt very alone. At that point, he turned to me, looked me squarely in the eyes (wanting to end the conversation) and said, “Yeah…OK If I need anything, I’ll let you know. Then he started down the hall towards a small group of girls. I could almost make out his snide remarks ...which made the girls giggle and look down the hall in my direction.

Watching him go, I could not help but to realize that he would not come to me. That made me sad…and angry. Sad because I wanted that boy to fix what is wrong and to find some inner peace…Angry because I knew what the future held for him and I was not strong or pushy enough to get through to him.


Dirty White boy said...

(knuckle tap) from me to you.

TentCamper said...

thanks brotha!

Candid Carrie said...

The girl that I met the first time was six and she is always on a porch swing and doesn't look up when I talk and she doesn't want any help.

I called her out again when she was ten and it was too late, the damage was done.

One day, I found her when she was eight. She was crying and then she listened. I know exactly where to find her and I am surprised that the grown up needs her more than she will ever need me. I actually think the eight year old me was wiser than I will ever be.

P.S. Stay away from my inner child, Tenter! Do you year me?


Insane Mama said...

Tenter, your inner child is confused, I think. I love how you are able to get in touch with your youner self and write about it.

Rhea said...

Aw, man.

T said...

Beautiful. Remember that if it wasn't for what that 12 year old boy went through, you wouldn't be who you are now. I know it seemed like life wasn't fair to you and it doesn't sound like it was. Still, honestly, life is what you make it. You can take those hard cards and go through life as a victim or become someone better in spite of it! It looks to me like you did the latter.

Great post.

Kimmylyn said...

There may be a day he reflects back to this conversation he had with you.. He may not have heard you now.. but there is a good chance it will sink in and he will turn to you later..


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