It’s one of those scenes that plays out every day in school yards all over the country every day. Kids playing on the swing sets, monkey bars and in sand boxes… all the while interacting with one another, trying to find their way through growing up. Sometimes they play nicely with cheer and excitement and sometimes with teasing or bullying.

One of those “teasing” moments changed me, scarred me, forever. It changed my thoughts about my classmates. It scarred my own outlook on me and how I see myself… still to this day. All because of five simple words heard on a television show the week before.

Punky Brewster was *the* show to watch when I was in fourth grade. Still to this day, I love Soleil Moon Frye for playing the girl that so many of us could identify with. Except the character had more hardships than most being parentless, until Henry took her in and became her father. So many of us could relate to the struggles in friendship, the discoveries made to keep life exciting and the inevitable lessons learned as we grew up.

And I grew up with her in some ways. Especially on that fateful day on the playground.

At the time I was one of the girls in my grade that “developed” earlier than most. I already felt like an oddball with red hair… but add this on to it all and I just felt like no one understood me anymore.

It was recess and there was a fairly large group playing on and around the swing set. As usual at this age, the boys started teasing the girls about a variety of things just to “be cool” or whatever their reasons might be. But the focus came upon the recent “Punky Brewster” episode about girls and how they change as they grow up. The “discussion” (or teasing) began about how I was different because I wore an…

“Over the shoulder boulder holder.”

Those fateful words. Followed by laughter. And, how I recall it today, pointing.

I don’t remember what season it was. I don’t even remember who actually said the words.

But the impact of how I felt has scarred me forever. I was embarrassed even though I had no real reason to be. I was horrified that I was so much different than everyone else. I was hurt that I was the one picked on of all of my classmates.

I’ve tried to cover up the scar by pretending it’s not there, or like it is something that I should have been proud of. I’ve tried to heal the wound through a number of ways… with food or hiding from others or a number of other ways I’ve dealt with coping. But as with most wounds, there is always some residue that lingers and pain that never goes away.

And like most scars… over the years it has faded.

It doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of my mind anymore… only comes up when I’m feeling certain ways. And then I try to use all of my “cover up” methods to make it disappear once again. Back into the hollows of my brain where the dust collects and the things I don’t want to remember take up residence.

Instead, I still feel horrified. Different.


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This post was part of Mama Kat’s Losin It :: Writer’s Workshop.
Mama's Losin' It