// Don’t Smother Me!//
I was thinking about relationships lately. Watching “Scott Pilgrim” will do that to you. I was wondering if I had seven deadly exes, and the funny thing is, if you count my very first boyfriend then yeah I do. Mind you, I was only six years old at the time, but even back then I was apparently breaking hearts.
His name was Roger. I can’t remember his last name, which is funny because I distinctly remember there being two Rogers in my morning Kindergarten class which made his last name extremely important at the time. “You like ROGER” some little friend would declare aghast, and I would have to explain, “Not Roger Somebodyorother, Roger Whathisname!” Not that which Roger really made any difference to any of my little friends because I was really the first in my group to like boys in any way at all.
Roger, with his buzzed hair and his glasses that were held onto his face firmly by an elastic sports band. It gave his glasses a goggle quality that reminded childhood me of airplane pilots. Why I pictured my airplane pilots as the steampunk variety I do not know, but I did. I was ahead of my time. SteamPunk Roger (SPR) asked me out the old fashioned way, via note passed by his older sister.
The note was cliche, “Will you be my girlfriend? Circle Yes or No.” It was passed to me while the classes were gathering in the gym. Sandridge Elementary School was relatively small and it took in the children from the local farms along with the trailer park kids of which I was one. Grades K through 12 could form little herds of screaming chaos in the gym each morning before filing off to class in some semblance of order. This was how SPR’s older sister, a wise forth grader, could tap little bird-boned me on the shoulder and hand me a note. She giggled the whole time and stood next to me until I read the note and handed it back to her.
You must remember, I was new to academia, so reading took me a moment, especially the large, wandering scrawl of a five year old. Oh, did I mention I was an older woman? My parents held me back a year because they had gotten the impression I just wasn’t ready to go to school yet. They got this impression from the fact that on the morning of my first day of school I squeezed myself into the furthest corner under the bed and against the wall and no one could reach me to drag me out. I stayed under there all day. I wasn’t taking any chances. My parents were pretty wise, and felt that waiting a year was not going to stunt my development. I was able to make up that time later by taking two years in one while home schooled. I don’t think I’m the worse for wear. However, I digress! So at six I was first totally terrified by this older girl approaching me, and then intimidated by her hovering as I stumbled my way through a five year old’s note written in crayon.
Somehow, even at six, I kind of felt as if I were too young for this business of boyfriend and girlfriend. Still, SPR’s big sister was waiting, and she kept giggling and calling the whole ordeal cute, so I circled yes. I mean, why not, I had plenty of friends who were boys, so this boyfriend deal couldn’t be much different right?
Well I was wrong.
I discovered this on the playground that afternoon.
As I mentioned before, while I was used to playing with boys many of my school friends were not. Boys were gross and loud and vulgar and went against the delicate sensibilities of my fellow kindergarten females. This meant that, when SPR wanted to glue himself to my side all during recess, he chased away the rest of my friends. Isn’t this the age old struggle, balancing a boyfriend and a social life? Who knew it started so early?
I tried to regulate things, spending a little time letting SPR try to impress me by leaping off the swings or standing on the monkey bars, and then running over towards the end of recess to sit and have tea with my girlfriends, but SPR would always run over and pretend to fight ninjas and do leaps and kick sand and generally upset a very proper tea ceremony with boyishness.
It become glaringly obvious to me that things were just not working out with SPR when I invited him over to my house on a playdate with me and my friend Katie. Katie was a quiet girl with straight long brown hair that went past her waist and deep set brown eyes. She was taller than me, but her personality folded her into looking smaller. Especially when I was bone thin and small but my personality exploded to fill a room, even at six. I liked Katie because she was one of the few girls who wouldn’t pick on me for being myself and who seemed to be able to tolerate SPR. I needed to be able to play with my boyfriend AND my girlfriends and know that everyone got along.
Well, it worked for awhile. We walked down to the Tot-Lot, an empty trailer lot that the owner filled with sand and placed a little mini park on for the children of the trailer community. It consisted of a set of three swings, a wooden slide/fort, and an odd vertical jungle gym thing that I could always climb up but then never climb back down because it was too high. The first few hours went relatively well. I have always been a swing-loving girl and while that may feel like a group activity it is also okay alone so there was no pressure for Katie to mingle with SPR.
After the swings SPR came up with the idea of playing tag. I picked him to be it, since it seemed only logical. The boys were always chasing the girls on the playground. We would run in fear, hiding behind trees or grouping for safety in giggling gaggles. We weren’t sure what would happen if they caught us, and from this vantage point I think I can safely say the boys probably weren’t quite so sure themselves. So at first the day went well; however, to this day I find that I can’t do one thing for too long. I get restless and bored. This is why I rarely finish first person shooter games. After awhile, I just get tired of shooting things. Too repetitive, my brain needs stimulation. I could tell that Katie was feeling the same way, but every time I yelled for SPR to stop chasing, we were done, he would just chase more. And he always went after me.
Apparently, even at the age of six, I easily felt smothered by clingy boys.
SPR, for the entire week of our brief little romance, attached himself to me in everything. The games in gym, he would pick me as a partner, on the playground he only chased me, during art he would sit in the chair right next to mine and demand my opinion on everything he drew. I didn’t have time to spend with anyone else and even at six I just couldn’t take it.
So I talked to his older sister.
I figured she had gotten me into the mess, so she had better help get me out of it.
I approached the towering gang of fourth grade girls with trepidation. They seemed so grown up, and aside from the day SPR’s sister passed me that note I never had any reason to talk with the older girls. I think the first thing I said was “Uhm?” Which made the whole crowd instantly stop talking as all of them whipped their side-ponytails around to glare at me. “It’s okay, she’s my lil’brother’s girlfriend,” SPR’s sister said. She asked me what I wanted and I remember I burst into tears. I was so stressed, after one week of having a boyfriend, all I wanted was to break up with him and just be a little girl. I begged her to tell him.
At first she wouldn’t. At first I was told I would have to do it myself, which only made me cry harder. In the end she finally relented. It was probably because the whole front of my shirt was soaked and snot was stringing down to my little arms that just couldn’t mop up everything.
Roger was not pleased.
I don’t remember him ever talking to me again. I DO remember him dragging me under the slide in third grade and trying to look down my shirt. An act for which he was promptly smacked soundly across his little face and sent crying to the playground monitor. The one and only time I hit someone hard enough to leave a hand print, and just my luck the playground monitor was Roger’s Aunt, who once she heard why he was slapped quickly smacked him across the head too, just for good measure.
Apparently relationships for me have just never been easy. Right from the start I was pretty much juggling the same things that get juggled as an adult. How to balance your love life and social life, how to find someone who doesn’t hold you so close you suffocate, and even how hard it can be to let someone go even when you know you just aren’t ready for them yet.
I know we all think of childhood as innocent and easier, but when I really sit back and remember it, there were times when it was just as hard if not harder than adulthood. Relationships are never easy. Even after seven “evil” exes.