The hair pulling days.

19 Aug

I grew my tough skin very early on in life, and I owe it all to one girl: Layosha. I first started out my schooling at a public elementary school in my hometown, Guinyard Elementary School. I attended 2 years of kindergarten there before going to the private school in my town starting in first grade. I don’t remember much about Guinyard, except for Layosha and Miss Marie.

When I was at Guinyard, I used a walker or four-prong canes to get around. I couldn’t walk without assistance at that point, but if I was able to move, I did. Despite having the ability to be mobile, I wasn’t able to move very quickly, and Layosha took full advantage of that. Practically every day when all of us kids were out on the playground during recess, Layosha would walk up behind me and pull my hair. It wasn’t a friendly pull either. Layosha grabbed a huge handful of my hair and pulled….hard.

I should point out that Layosha was mentally handicapped, and so she didn’t know any better. However, I couldn’t understand that concept at the time. At 5 years old with a disability, I didn’t understand what was so special about me….I didn’t understand why Layosha chose to target me. All I knew was that even if I tried to get away from her every day, it never worked. Layosha had the ability to run, and she used it when trying to seek me out and pull my hair. After many weeks of hair pulling and daily tears, I knew that I wasn’t going to win.

A teacher of mine, Miss Marie, pulled me aside one day and said: “Amelia, just hit her with one of your canes.” Even now, that sentence makes me smile. Not because I ever hit Layosha (which I didn’t) but because it’s a reminder that Miss Marie has always had my back. Despite never hitting Layosha, I grew a tougher skin with every hair pull. Even though it hurt every time, I learned that bursting into tears every time would only give Layosha a feeling of satisfaction, so I got tougher and tried not to let her get to me. Yes, I could have hit Layosha with one of my canes, but I was never that kind of kid. I didn’t want revenge. I didn’t want to hurt her, even though I thought about it. I just wanted the hair pulling to stop.

The hair pulling never did stop, and eventually I left Guinyard to go to the private school in my town. I guess you could say that I “ran” from Layosha, but I don’t really see it that way. I see it as escaping a certain level of taunting that would most likely only get worse. And with already having to learn how to live with a disability, I had enough on my plate for being so young. I didn’t need something else pulling me down.

I think about Layosha sometimes, wondering what she’s like now. I wonder if there was ever another kid with a physical disability that she teased. I hope there wasn’t. However, if there was, I hope that they didn’t hesitate to take Miss Marie’s advice.

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5 Responses to “The hair pulling days.”

  1. photosfromtheloonybin August 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    What a great post!! Although it was a nasty situation you were in, you managed to tell the story with humour that kept me giggling throughout. All I can say is I love Miss Marie!! 🙂

  2. Lisa W. Rosenberg August 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    What a story, Amelia. It’s so hard to be targeted as a kid, regardless of age or mobility. I respect what Miss Marie said, but I can’t help wishing there had been another grown-up to stop the hair pulling. I know, we all learn from our trials, but still …:)

  3. Eileen Slovak August 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    It sounds like you handled it well, but I like Miss Marie’s attitude.

  4. 4amWriter August 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    My goodness, that was a lot of burden for you to bear. While I appreciate Miss Marie’s attempts at helping you, why didn’t she help Layosha understand what she was doing is not nice? Mentally handicapped or not, Layosha was obviously in that school because she could interact with society on some level. I am sad for her that no one took the time to teach her a valuable lesson about ‘getting along with others.’ And then your situation would have improved greatly.

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