(February, 1999)

Child Taunted
from M.H.

One of the most horrifying things to me (as a mother of a 1st grader many years ago) was when my son came home (who suffered horrendously and still does) and said that his classmates called him ALASKA. Children CAN be so unknowingly cruel, can't they!?! -M.H.

*****

Ed's Response: I didn't have a horrific skin condition to suffer when I was in elementary school, but I did have a mother who was very "fifties" and very "Elvis Presley-is-cool." In fact, when I reflect back (with the help of photos) from that period, I see that I was something of an "Elvis Presley Doll" for my mother. My hair wasn't at all like Elvis's, but Mom overcame that drawback with tons of hair spray. One day a classmate named Timmy Wilson ran into my rock-hard hair and started jeering me. "Your momma wants you to be a girl!" I remember being very upset about this ... very ashamed. I reported the encounter tearfully to my mother and still remember her rejoinder. "Next time Timmy Wilson says anything about your hair, Eddy, you tell him he'd be a little better off if HIS momma used a little hair spray on HIM, TOO."

Though I never confessed this to Mom, I rejected her advice. Instead, next time Timmy Wilson jeered at me I broke his glasses. Timmy said his dad would make my dad pay for new glasses, and I relayed this threat to my father when my mother couldn't overhear our conversation. If I remember correctly, my father said, "If Tim Wilson's father comes to me for money to fix the little s--- o--- b—'s glasses, he better not be wearing any glasses himself!"

Yes, M.H., kids can be terribly cruel. Time heals those wounds for most of us, I hope. -Ed

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