I Was a Child Rage Monster

I Was a Child Rage Monster | imshayshay.blogspot.com

Children have brains that are not fully developed and emotions that their undeveloped brains cannot control. Take for example, the classic temper tantrum. A temper tantrum is simple a toddler that's frustrated, exhausted and can't figure out how to fix a problem, so they screech, thrash, and blow snot all over themselves. Come to think of it, I have had a few of these lately. Life is hard.

Given my propensity for dramatic behavior as an adult, I'm not surprised that as a kid, I had an anger streak. Let's just say that if you made me feel helpless when I was in grade school, there's a good chance you found yourself on the receiving end of the wrath of a child sized rage monster. This was, I'm sure, shocking for those who experienced it because I was also the quiet kid. Shy Shay has a dirty little secret and she's gonna show it to you by ripping your nasty little head off.

Three such instances of child rage stick out in my head. Now, my anger wasn't ever so bad that I required any kind of intervention from a therapist or anything, but looking back on it as an adult, it makes me squirm. I'd like to go back in time and tell my little self to just be cool, like Fonzie, but given my puny kid brain, it probably would have frustrated me even more. Plus my little self would have been really confused as to why my 30 year old self still had acne.

The first incident that I remember, albeit not clearly, was when I was in 3rd grade. I was playing with my best friend Sarah and she was blocking me from getting up the stairs. I was extremely frustrated. I couldn't get by her and she was having a grand ole time. This was clearly a one sided game, and she was clearly egging me on, so she clearly deserved to be bit. And so I did. I bit her. I was that kid that bites people.

The second incident occurred was when I was in 5th grade. It was in a teacherless classroom at lunch time, with a few other students, and Kiley Swagenfoote* decided it would be tons of fun to steal a note from me. Now, this note was very important; the second she took it, I felt a flush to my cheeks and my heartbeat in my throat. She was much faster than me, and quite adept at playing keep away, because apparently my frustration was some kind of fuel for her. Eventually, I got close enough to her to grasp at the tiny bits of hair at the back of her head that weren't up in her pigtails.

I grabbed on, and yanked hard.

THE KILL ZONE | imshayshay.blogspot.com

Kiley instantly started sobbing, and I mean full-on, uncontrollable hiccuped sobbing. I was embarrassed. I felt bad, but oh no, not or her. I felt bad for me because now everyone in the room was looking at me like I was the asshole, when she was the one that had stolen my note, and she was the one that just wouldn't shut up. I told her to stop crying, and when she didn't, I did what any good rage monster would do: I knocked over a few desks and chairs and stormed out of the room.

Well, of course at this point I was feeling doubly embarrassed because, now I'm the brat that has not only pulled someones hair and made them cry, but I've also lost my shit and mucked up a room. I remember, at the urging of my mother, getting my very best stationary with the rainbow and zoo animals on it, and typing Kiley an apology on my parent's Macintosh LC II. Now this is key: Never at any point did I actually feel bad about what I had done to her. I was still angry that she had been such a baby about it, but hey, this is what you're supposed to do when you make someone cry, right?

This leads me to my final story, my crown jewel, the coup de grâce. I shouldn't be so proud of myself here because I was a real dick, but whatever, it's a pretty good story regardless.

Do you remember handball in grade school? The kind of handball that involved those brick red rubber balls that were about the size of a pumpkin, and you play it against a wall? Well me and my friends, and a ton of other kids at my school, were really into it in the 6th grade.

Getting a good handball court and a good handball to go with it was no easy task for an 11 year old girl. There were 2 large courts in our playground, and only a few good balls available, and by good I mean the ones that weren't too big, and were nice and round and firm. In order to get both the good ball and the big court at the recess that followed lunch, in order to climb schoolyard hierarchy, you had to be among the first kids out on the playground. One day, I felt I had outgrown my tiny court and fatty lopsided ball, so I made it my mission to stage a revolution. We're moving on up, ladies.

I sacrificed half my lunch that day so I could I run out there, snag a good ball, and get the big court. You see, one of the perks of claiming a court is that you get to make up the rules: if it hits you in the face you're out, no slicies, etc etc. The only problem was I had not clearly explained my genius plan to my friends. I told the one friend that had made the journey with me to hold the court while I grabbed everyone else.

When I got back to the court, my friends in tow, I found it had been monopolized by a group of boys from our class. It has to be said that their ball was entirely unsatisfactory. They knew it and I knew it, but it didn't matter. Despite my logical explanation that I already had the court so it couldn't possibly be theirs, they would not let me have it back. One of my friends, a peacemaker, said "Why don't we share the court," which didn't go over well with the boys OR me, for that matter. In my mind, I got there first and they had encroached on my territory, but more importantly, they had spoiled my plan; my puny kid brain couldn't handle this unwelcome turn of events. Sensing my frustration, and being boys, one of them grabbed my ball and dropped kicked it across the playground.

What would happen next is a blur, but I remember something clearly. For the first time in my life, I saw red. This is not a figure of speech. It was actually as if my whole world had become bathed in red light, and I was focused on one thing: Jimmy Biggansworth* laughing at me. He was clutching his sides, curled over, uncontrollably laughing at me. I zeroed in on him like the Terminator, took two steps forward, and attacked. With my legs, my arms, and my sweater adorned with big metal buttons, I flailed at him ferociously. I became a one-girl shin-kicking machine.

Some of the other boys in my class would approach me later and tell me that I had hit Jimmy so hard that he was crying, saying that it was the worst pain he had ever felt in his life. To make matters worse for this poor kid, he was on my older brother's soccer team at the time, and my dad was the coach. I know that I never got in trouble because he wouldn't dare tell anyone that a girl beat him up, but my brother knew what his little sister had done, and knowing my brother, he didn't let him forget it either.

Okay, maybe I feel a little bad about that one.

I'm happy to say that this day, nearly two decades ago, was the last time I ever struck at anyone in anger. I've learned to control my rage, absorb it, and release it in controlled spurts of carefully crafted words, death glares, and passive aggressive emails. I like to think that I'm getting better at this as I get older, but I do enjoy a good pillow and/or alone-in-car scream as the situation warrants. Every once in awhile my middle finger will work its way into my field of vision. What are you doing there little guy? You're gonna get us in trouble!

*Some names have been changed to protect the identities of parties not privy to this essay, even though they totally deserved it.

This essay is from my "Painting The Blog Red" series. Go HERE for more red-ings.

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