I guess because I color my hair now or something, most people don't know or don't believe what a geek I was in school. Glasses. Braces. Acne. I played make believe games until the summer after 7th grade, and I only quit that when writing really took hold. My favorite things were horses, Lost in Space, and Star Wars. I liked to draw the Crucifix, of all things. I'd never seen a Disney film, but I'd seen several cool bands in concert (bands no one my age was interested in, but Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac). I was too short to wear cool clothes and my feet were too wide for Adidas. I wore Zips, for crissake, and track suits out of the old lady petite section. I was just all... wrong. Geek in spades.

In 6th grade I moved from grade school in Kansas City to a jr high in Chicago. It was a whole new world. Kids there were over Star Wars. Over it, when THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was just hitting theaters! I did get to ride horses and take lessons. Eventually everyone got horses but me, and I never enjoyed showing, so I never quite fit in there, either. (Never underestimate the power of riding horses. If you can handle a 2000 pound animal, you can seriously handle anything.)

For a year and a half, through the end of seventh grade, I had one sort-of friend. We didn't have much in common. We had no classes together. Our moms threw us together. She was very nice to me, despite being stuck with the sucky girl.

I didn't do well in school. I mean, lower than average grades. I struggled with math. I literally ignored my science teacher. (He was a first-class asshole and set up a permanent mental block about science in my head that I've yet to overcome, 30 years later.) Other kids got school. They caught on. They saw the big picture. I daydreamed and missed a whole hell of a lot.

I knew I was all wrong but I had no idea what to do about it. I sank into writing a book, my first book. I spent months alone. I didn't see other kids except at school and church for an entire year.

At some point you have to say fuck it about what other people think, and I think that's what I was doing, in my 12 year old way. Well, we're grownups and so it should be easy now , right? Well, not so for me. I still have many distinct moments of nonfuckitness. I'm going through a period right now. I mean, I don't even really fit in with the geeks. I'm certainly not smart like them. I swear I should go back to glasses and let my hair grow scraggly. Maybe then...

So with my kid, who feels as if he has no friends, as if no one wants to be his friend, how am I supposed to advise him? He's far too young to have any measure of fuckitness. And really, he's a cool kid. He's much cooler than a lot of the kids I know. He has literally not a mean bone in his body. He simply doesn't understand when people are mean.

Yeah. I know what you're thinking. He's MY kid. I have to all think that. But I think I've got a little bit of perspective, having worked with kids in a professional capacity. He's a kid that's going to make a fabulous, intriguing, smart adult, once he gets over his self-centeredness. He snowboards. He plays drums, man. He rides motorcross and gets air. He's also drop dead gorgeous, and that's not just being a Mom. People have stopped us on the street.

Kids are mean. I accept that. I could go into all sorts of reasons--like organized sports shoved down their throats--of why I think that is. But that's not what this is about. This is about teaching a kid self-confidence when every message he gets all day long tells him he's all wrong.

And seriously, that is way beyond me as a parent.

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