My “happy” childhood

If you asked my parents if I had a happy childhood they would answer “yes” without any doubt. They would tell that I didn’t need anything else than what I had.

Let me tell you the truth. First I have been bullied at school. The little kids’ school, the one you go to when you are between 3 and 6. The school which is supposed to make you socialize, discover your skills, be curious… Well, this is only a theory. Because actually when you get there you are taught how to bully other kids, the golden rule of “bullying not to be bullied in your turn”. Teachers humiliate you in front of your little mates. Divide and rule. They compare pupils. They have their pets and they feed them with condescension. They kill your innocence and creativity. They want to put you in a box and if you unfortunately don’t fit they will shape your mind, your wings. So you’d better fly away.

At school there was not racism. Indeed, all the kids were white. So they had to find something else to reject you. Are children cruel? Well, they aren’t born cruel but their parents teach them how to become heartless and if not the parents, the teachers will take pleasure into doing that perverse task.

If you are not black, muslim nor asian looking, you still have a chance to be discriminated. You just have to be chubby, wearing glasses or other prothesis, have curly hair or eczema. You might also have a lisp, or your parents might be farmers or gypsies, the kids won’t spare you.

As a child of four I have been shocked by the behaviour of adults. I remember when the teacher commented on that little boy drawing: “Why is your sun brown? Have you ever looked outside? The sun is yellow. It’s always yellow. Look at your schoolmates drawings.” This child’s father was in jail. I guess it wasn’t easy for him and the only way he could express himself was criticized. I am sorry that I haven’t had the balls to go to the teacher and explain her how art is not made to reproduce reality but to express oneself, our universe, what we are going through. This is something emotional. I didn’t have the words.

That teacher didn’t like me either. She thought I was stupid and she mentioned it in front of other pupils. I blushed. I felt embarrassed. I wanted her to like me. I wanted to prove her that she was wrong. She kept on humiliating me. When I was 6 I didn’t know the days of the week. For her it was apparently a big deal. So she forced us to sing that horrible song including the visit of an emperor, his wife and a little prince. They come everyday to meet the narrator who isn’t at home and they come back the day after. This is repetitive and terribly annoying.

I admit I was different. For example I hated naps. During the afternoon naps I used to wake my schoolmates up. Not to disturb them or to be mean. Just because I was bored while pretending I was sleeping and I wanted to check if they were really sleeping. I was full of energy and wanted to spend it. I was young and wanted to conquer the world! I didn’t want to count any imaginary sheep while listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. To me it was the definition of being old. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to be an Indian or a queen, something different. I wanted to open the chest full of costumes and play another role since being a child was annoying.

And I have been punished, sent to the corner of the classroom. But the temptation was too big, too close, too caressing for my child’s mind and I happened to chat and kid my little comrades. What a crime! Then I have been relegated to the toilets’ corner. And regularly I went to the classroom to ask if my punishment was over. And I was sent back to the toilets. So I started to explore the cupboards. There was the cleaning lady material, a robot made of cardboard boxes, aluminum foils and other recycled components.

And I heard the school bus was coming. I felt “saved by the bell”. But nobody came to pick me up. I could hear the childrens’ screams and steps, the sound of their anorak zips and the door shutting.

I felt like paralyzed and I decided no to run and join the other children. I decided not to do the teacher’s and assistant’s job, not to save their greasy bacon.

I was shared between the feelings of guilt and fairness. My mum took her car to pick me up from school, which was four kilometers from home, and I felt like I was wasting her time. The teacher had not been punished for forgetting me in the toilets and that made me realize that my parents were on the teacher’s side. I also felt silly not to think about it earlier. Of course they are adult! And I made a promise to myself of never becoming an adult. And that fear increased while I was gaining centimeters. So each night in my bed I was praying whoever could hear my prayer not to grow up.

And I kept quiet when Amélie, the Little Fat Red Hood Girl, came to steal my snack. I felt guilty for giving her the food that my parents bought with their money. But I tried to convince myself that I was generous and that sharing is loving even though I disliked that kid who made me starve. After a while I got used to hide to eat in peace.

I kept quiet when we played the Farmer in the dell and I ended being the cheese. In our version the cheese wasn’t standing alone, it would have been too kind. In our version the cheese was beaten. All that with the benediction of the school teacher. Incredible in the twentieth century!

I don’t mention all the rounds and raws giving opportunity to children to fight or flee not to hold that certain child’s hand like if he or she was pestiferous, the same way nowadays people avoid to seat next to the homeless guy in the metro because he smells too bad and dares to talk to them.