“It Doesn’t Matter”

When you are a freshman on a high school soccer team, you have a tendency to become the butt of some random good natured teasing and pranks from the upperclassmen players. My son came home from his first soccer camp with his very first ever buzz cut….courtesy of a random senior student who took his razor to the heads of a number of willing participants. He told us about someone – a freshman – being duct taped to a chair and then given rides up and down a dormitory elevator. (Several students were sent home early for that one.) He also came home with the nick name ‘Inspector Lee’ – a moniker that he decided to wear on the back of his team hoodie that year. There were a couple of other choices. I think they called him ‘Jackie Chan’ for a while and ‘Ramen’ a couple of times. But ‘Inspector Lee’ stuck and he liked it. It was a character name from one of his favorite movies – ‘Rush Hour’ – with Chris Rock and Jackie Chan – after all. And the name was affectionately given by people that he had respect for. The name was received in the manner it was bestowed.

He has been playing soccer since he was four. Thirteen years now. Next year he will be the senior goal tender for his varsity team. It has taken me a while to get used to such name calling. All of the things kids say to each other and call each other in sports. Trash talking between friends. You would think that I would have developed an iron hide by now. I mean, I grew up a ‘stocky’, over weight, hearing impaired, head rocking, bookish ‘nerd’. I was always out of sync with the people in my little world. However, I remember seventh grade as being the worst year of my entire life.

Still.

Not only had I been catapulted from the warm cocoon of elementary school – where I’d been nutured with the same small group of kids since Kindergarten – into junior high but I committed the horrendous fashion faux pas of wearing bright green tights and a dress with a huge daisy pin on the first day of school.

‘Flower Power’

The teasing began from the very start…..and never seemed to stop. I wasn’t into the social scene of rec nights and over nights. I did not make friends easily and most of my elementary buddies had been scattered into different, alphabetically organized, home rooms. There was a small group in my classes who took particular pleasure in rolling my round packets of hearing aid batteries across the classroom floor. How they managed to get them out of my purse hanging on the back of my chair I will never know.

But the very worst of the worst that happened that year was the name I was stuck with.

‘Tank’

‘Tank of the Jungle’

“Tank…Tank…Tank of the Jungle….please don’t sit on MeeEEee…..”

Princess is involved in a research project about bullying for school. It seems to be the subject of the moment everywhere right now. I dredged up all those memories of 7th grade the other day trying to explain to her why it was important to get a handle on bullying and why it should be stopped. I told her how my skin crawls every time I hear the ‘George of the Jungle’ theme song…..even now. I told her how I just can not bring myself to ‘friend’ some of those junior high people who have found me on Face Book because I can still hear them. I reminded her of her own experience with being teased about her ‘Chinese Eyes.’

To be honest, my extended family has never been one to shirk away from ethnic nick names and affectionate slams. Jokes. We have heard and said them all at one time or another. Sarcasm runs rampant in my neck of the woods.

Affectionately.

And maybe this is why it surprised me that it bothered me SO. VERY. MUCH. last night to hear high schoolers heckling my son – my Asian son – during a particulary violatile soccer match. They stood behind the net goal he guarded as the goalie for his team and told him to ‘go back to North Korea or where ever he was from.’

Someone complained and the high schoolers were asked to leave…..and they did. The venue manager stood guard for the rest of the match – watching and listening.

High schoolers.

And when I asked him today if he could hear them last night, he just shrugged and said that it doesn’t matter.

But maybe….in the very grand scheme of things….it does.

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Explore posts in the same categories: soccer, sons, teenage angst, Uncategorized

2 Comments on ““It Doesn’t Matter””

  1. Linnea Says:

    7th grade was my worst year also. Try being called a test tube baby every day on the bus. I cried everyday and hated the bus rides to and from school. A half hour for those morons to harass me. I too have not friend them on facebook. I think it is a very good topic for her to research.

  2. Mary Says:

    That’s so cold. I hate how cruel kids can be. 😦


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