Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I REMEMBER - the stick of confidence

...I was about seven years old and living in McAlester, Oklahoma.  I was skinny, shy and uncoordinated. I had just gotten glasses (four eyes - four eyes!!!!) and didn't have much self confidence.  One summer day, I fell victim to the neighborhood kids who taunted me and  pushed me around until I couldn't take it anymore and ran home crying.  If it wasn't bad enough already, they chased me all the way home and up to my own front porch.

I ran inside crying to my mother.  The kids stayed on my porch and taunted me through the screen door.  This wasn't the first time this had happened, and it didn't seem there was a solution presenting itself.

Mom told me that if I didn't stand up for myself, no matter how old or big I got, there would always be someone bigger who  would try to push me around and make my life hard.  She told me never to start a fight, but there were times when you had to take a stand and not run away.  The she told me, "today is that day."

She took an old broom handle out of the pantry, handed it to me and said "There are more of them than you---this should even it up a bit.  Now go back out on the porch and tell them that the first kid that sets foot on your porch is going to get whacked."

I was shaking like a leaf when I stepped outside.  The kids saw me and looked at the broom handle and backed off the porch.  It probably looked like I was shaking the stick at them, when in reality I was trying to hold onto it and my hands were shaking like crazy.

Then a wondrous change occurred.  I shook the stick and dared them to come up on my porch and mess with me.  Of course the biggest and baddest kid took me up on it and stepped forward.  I raised the stick and, although I couldn't hit a baseball (which started the "four-eyes" taunting in the first place), I figured that since his head was much larger than a baseball, I stood a good chance of making contact.  As soon as he saw I was ready to whack him, he turned and ran away and all the other kids turned the taunt around and laughed at HIM as he ran down the street.

My life was changed forever.  I felt good about myself.  I never hit anybody with that stick, but I got new respect from the other kids on the block.  They and I both knew the stick was just within reach, inside my front door.  Soon,  I learned I didn't need a "stick."  Sometimes it is just a "look." We all have been on the receiving end of "the look" and have felt the power.

My new level of self-confidence grew considerably after that.  It didn't, however,  improve my baseball ability much, although I didn't always get picked last anymore either.