On Bullies and Tripping Down the Up Only Staircase

A Blonde Boy With A Backpack Running Up The Stairs Of A School On His First Day Of School

My almost three year old son starts school on Wednesday. School is going to widen our son’s world. New teachers, new friends, new things to learn. He’ll start to bump up against the bigger, harder world.

Thought my husband and I have done everything we can to avoid it, I can’t help being worried about him being picked on for having two dads. After seeing him push another boy on the playground, I also of course worry about him picking on other kids.

As we get ready to help our son transition to pre-school, I’m so glad I found this perfect essay about school and bullies by novelist Patrick Gale in The Guardian. Gale recently received a “heartfelt, two-page apology from a man who had done his best to make my life a misery at school.”

Gale’s story has me thinking more about Keith, my own teenage tormentor. In 8th grade, I was awkwardly trying to figure myself out, just starting to get a grip on being gay. Keith probably knew something about me that I didn’t know about myself then. One day in between classes in our overcrowded junior high, Keith tripped me down the up-only staircase.

I have a very poor memory of my own personal history. I have a hard time remembering the date and even the year I was married, but I can tell you the exact pattern of the brown linoleum and dark bricks of that junior high school staircase. I have deep sensory memories of falling down those steps in the wrong direction, banging against the other kids all the way down. Sometimes I wish I could remember more of what happened before or after I feel. Other times I think my poor memory might be a mercy. It is amazing to realize that this happened 29 years ago.

I can’t resist a little digital detective work and admit I do keep tabs on Keith. I think he now owns a shop that repairs auto glass. I doubt he’s Googled me.

Patrick Gale’s new novel Take Nothing With You is on sale in the UK and available via Amazon

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