Give ’em Hell on Two Wheels

When my brother turned five my mom went back to work. It was an adjustment to say the least but we would go to our neighbors house after school. Her sons were older, and nuts, and usually not around. I remember watching a lot of soap operas and playing with a lot of Legos. It was quiet and we could walk right home at 5:30.

Several years later when we switched schools, things became more difficult. For all of us. My father was hardly ever home and my mom was working more, too. And my brother was happily unruly. It became a real struggle for my mom to find somewhere for us to go after school. My fake grandma didn’t drive so it had to be somewhere we could get to on the bus. One of the homes we stayed at was of a boy we knew who’s mom was, in fact, a babysitter. Which meant the house was lousy with toddlers. Their basement was full of musical instruments which can seem like heaven when you adore music and your parents can’t afford even one. I wasn’t “allowed” to play any of them and was forced to watch on while the other kids did. No reason given except that “these are only for us”. One day, for a moment, I got to quietly tap out Chariots of Fire from the sheet music at the Xylophone. He heard me and ran to the basement to take the mallet from me. Because I hadn’t asked permission. When I did, he said no. That I would break it because I didn’t know how to play.

A second house was home to another child we knew along with a teenage brother and sister who were the worst individuals I’d ever known in my life. And I was terrified of them enough to hide in the bathroom most of the time. They had a trampoline, another pure luxury in my eyes. And I was never allowed to jump on it. Only to watch. It was common other kids from the neighborhood would stop by. Kent would “allow” them to jump. And always told me there was no room for me. I was made fun of for my ears, my lisp, the spaces in my teeth and for “being poor”. No one ever did a thing. I never did a God damn thing. These are only a few and, until recently, they are still some of the most heartbreaking memories of my life. And they’ve carried with me for the duration. Not surprisingly, being excluded, ignored and teased still do not sit well with me. But I still hang around and take it. Just like I did back then. In hopes I’ll eventually be accepted. I have doubts that will ever change.

My youngest daughter is scarily similar to me and my emotional makeup. When I saw her hang up her bicycle two years ago because the three brothers across the street teased her for using training wheels, my heart was in pain for her. Two years she went without that childhood freedom and experience. Without that independence. Two years she went without growing that basic skill. When Toys R Us went out of business I bought her a razor scooter and she’s been riding it every minute she’s able. But we spent last night outdoors with some other kids and she happened to notice her bike. Fondly. She laughed and said “I haven’t ridden this in forever.” I saw her remember why she’d given up, and then she said something I was never able to verbalize at her age. “I felt ashamed when they made fun of me.” I got a wrench and took the fucking training wheels off.

She’s a foot taller now. And a scooter balance pro. I held the back of her neck, and in the rain, in ten minutes she learned how to ride her bike without those damn training wheels. And, with confidence and courage I never had, proudly paraded past the Gavin boys on her maiden voyage, “hiiiiii!” as she rode past. And she played with them the rest of the night. Because you don’t write off people who mistreat you out of simple lapse in judgment, she didn’t miss out on what will probably end up being one of the best memories of her childhood. Not the worst. I do not believe in Karma but I sure as hell still believe in The Golden Rule. And my own converse addendum…If you wouldn’t like it done to you…don’t do it.

Quiet people who don’t fight back are more than just easy targets for casual abuse. I don’t give a damn how old a person is, I can guarantee the ones you’ve accused of being ‘too sensitive’ have suffered hurts long carried, important to them. You may then walk off with no further thought. Free from burden. But we live in the wake of that rejection forever. I can guarantee that too. I have been powerless my entire life because I don’t fight back. Because I’m soft spoken. Feeling left out, weak and not accepted because I was different. And feeling shame for the things I couldn’t do. I don’t want that for her. I want JJ to beat those odds. And she is well on her way. She refuses to be left behind.

To celebrate the important night, I went and bought shakes for all the kids in the neighborhood. Even the little assholes across the street. Because I’m positive they’re hurting about things, too. Something. You can never know.

Sam

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26 thoughts on “Give ’em Hell on Two Wheels

  1. “Too Sensitive” is just code for a huge heart. It has so much more room for compassion and understanding, but that comes with room for hurt. Some of the best people I know are often deemed “too sensitive”. I say awesome! Bring it because those are the people I want in my life.
    You are such an awesome person for doing that for those kids. Keep being awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Understanding i think, is the key word. Being able to see people as a sum of their past experiences and accept (and respect) them for it is only fair and only mature and evolved. Thank you so much for understanding all these things. It’s taken me a while to answer all the nice comments because the post kept making me weepy, lololol!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a standing ovation! What a rewarding moment to witness your daughter recognize and verbalize how she allowed someone else to hold her back … and then to take action to enjoy the bike for herself!! Give ’em hell indeed! What a powerful, redemptive moment!!

    Adult Sam, you are amazing. I’m sure younger you was just as impressive. It sucks so much when others don’t recognize it and abuse the quietness or insecurities. But you and your daughters are fighting in your own ways. And that’s so awesome. You’ve got a support system here too. ❤ And dude, whatever is beneath the mounds of cream is a very sweet peace offering.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 😊😊😊 Thank you so much for this. It was very rewarding indeed to see her recognize her own emotions and then so proud. We want to tell our kids that they have to do their own thing, be their own person but in reality, we all want to fit it and find acceptance. It isnt always about ‘following the pack’, but everyone wants to belong somewhere and find their place. No one wants to be left out or belittled. Least of all for their differences. Ugh, so much. SO, so much!

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  3. I had all those same babysitters when I was growing up. My parents were divorced and my father was in a different state with a new family. We were on welfare, which meant all clothes were from the thrift store, very, very few toys…my younger brother and I were sad, inept children. The after school babysitting was paid by welfare so my mother could get job training. So they all looked down their noses at us. It only lasted while my mom was training, that’s all that was paid. After she started working, 8yr old me was in charge of 5yr old little brother. Latch key kids in the 70s.
    That’s a long way of saying I know how awful childhood can be when you’re different, bullied and alone. It sucks that your daughter hung up her bike for two years. It hurts me that she felt that, but I’m so excited that she was ready to try again, and NAILED IT!
    And you buying all those shakes is a memory all those kids will keep. I know this as fact. When my girls were little, our house was the hang out spot. As adults, they occasionally bring someone from school around and these grown-up kids always remark on the sodas or pizza after school. They talk about *their* painful childhood memories and thank me for opening our house. So, yeah, even the little buttheads across the street may not have it so good.
    Keep being exactly who you are my friend! Little seeds planted today…you know!
    Big hugs & cheese!!!💌💌💌💌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We spent a great deal of our childhood with people looking down on us and I know my mom carried that every day along with the guilt that she couldn’t make certain changes for us. So much so, that we knew better than to ask for much. But then even when our situation changed, we were seen as privileged ‘transplants’ or imports. So nothing ever changes but as you get older you are more able to find your way and not accept insults *so* much as your truth. She’s been lucky that she makes friends very easily and forgives a *lot* of others. I want to tell her to keep that close as she ages but that wouldn’t be what I believe. We all have to find our own way but I will help her now while I still can 😔 Thank you for sharing that story with me. It always helps to hear similar experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. I loved loved loved this redemption story. Not just her, taking life by the wheels, but you too. Buying shakes for “even the assholes across the street” is a sign that you came out the other side of your childhood wounds the bigger and better person.

    I’m smiling right now. Reagan has told me several times this week that it feels to her like I’m the only one who believes in her. I told her the best way to shut up the haters is to prove them wrong. But I ain’t buyin em no ice cream after she does. 😜

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    1. My kids are so much better off than we were but I always realize that there are certain social woes they will always face regardless. Its nice the ones I can help her walk through but Im so incredibly grateful that she’s also in touch with things I never was. Im not sure if having a better ability to express things to my dad would have helped when I was young but….it was a different age. My dad was pretty much Mr. Parker from Christmas Story! 😣

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      1. Hopefully, with each passing generation, our kids grow better able to handle these kinds of situations.

        My Dad was too – amazing how much he’s mellowed over the years. If he had been more like he is now when I was growing up, I might have been a completely different person!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I probably would be too! But most likely not for the better I hate to say! Its soooo different now for dads because its not as taboo to not be ‘mucho macho’.😂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re a good man, Sam. “even for the little assholes across the street” made me LOL for real!! This post really touched a soft spot for me and brought similar memories I have from my childhood to the surface. I get it. You’re right, we all have some of that hurt deep inside of us that we carry around whether we know it or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you so much. I’ve realized talking about things like this helps me keep in touch with where I came from so to speak. It isnt healthy to pretend you cant be hurt and never were. It will only alienate you in the end. I like to make sure my kids know the things Ive been through and that its okay to be open about it. Otherwise they’ll be bullying people for their emotions well into adulthood. Which is unacceptable. 100%.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re such a treasure Sam. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent story and life lessons!! Your daughter is growing into a wonderful young woman, and you are a great dad!😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. She is worlds stronger than me already!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this! 🤗

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  8. I have tears in my eyes Sam. On so many levels I love this post. I want to hug the boy you were, the man you’ve become and the dad you are to your daughter. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. These are the most rewarding to get out of my system.😢 In addition to full circle experience helping either of my kids triumph in their lives, these make me teary but really do help me face and accept a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very relatable. I was raised to be quiet and unconfrontational and I often felt the effects of that. Till this day It affects me. You’ve got this dad thing down. Thanks for sharing your perspective👍🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me as well ☹ Mostly because my dad (once upon a time) was very strong willed and unbending and I kept quiet and just did what I was supposed to do. Not mean…just, I knew what I had to be. I can’t imagine ever telling him I was ashamed of anything. So that really lit a fire in me when she expressed that 😔 Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. well that’s awesome. it’s a reflection of your dadism 🙂 I hope that my girls can open up to me when the time comes. I never really had that with my parents. Although they are great in their own way, the communication part was hard when I needed it the most

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I feel that with my dad for sure. When I was really struggling I feel like he thought the less he knew, the better. Always there to help us…but he never wanted any info. Which sort of makes that connection impossible (I almost said imposserus) ☹

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  10. Love this post. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading 🤗 You’re so welcome!

      Like

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