I’m turning 37 this year and it’s made me more reflective and more accepting of where I started in life to where I am now.
I have to admit losing my job hit my self-esteem pretty hard and it also really scared me, starting over in my 20s early 30s felt easy, and the transitions were exciting. Starting over in my late 30s with 2 kids and a mortgage, feels like walking on a tight rope while carrying 5 watermelons.
I’ve been hard on myself about it too, taking the rejection and allowing it to replace the truth of who I am with my assumptions of why I lost it.
But yesterday I was opening a can of vegetarian hot dogs (yes they come in cans) for Wallis’ lunch and it reminded me of when I was probably around 7 years old and my parents put my brother and I in one of those local summer camps – you know, where all the unloved children and rejected camp counselors go 😉
It was the first time I had ever been in something like that, and it was very intimidating because there were soooo many kids and most had been attending for years…their tattoos told some pretty terrifying stories, he he.
Anyways, it was brutal and the kids were 99% horrible, so my brother fit right in and quickly became the backup chorus to a group of boys that bullied me daily clearly trying to impress them. My brother has never been the “don’t talk to my sister like that” brother type…he’s more the, “I’ve never seen her in my life” type. Ha!
Anyways as the camp was coming to an end, they told everyone to bring a hot dog for lunch, they were going to have a BBQ party for the last day of summer camp.
I told my parents excitedly (not thinking anything of our vegetarian hot dogs being different as it was all I had ever known) and my brother quickly chimed in that I was an idiot and everyone would make fun of me. He told me he was packing a PB&Jelly and I should do the same if I didn’t want to get beaten up.
Keep in mind this was the 1980s nobody knew what vegetarians were, and they most certainly didn’t want them coming to a BBQ, ha!
My dad told my brother to leave me alone and if I wanted to bring a hot dog, I should. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to impress my dad, I committed 100%!
The next day I handed a sandwich bag with my name on it that contained my veggie hot dog to the “cook” and ran to play. The news traveled quickly what I had brought and I was mercilessly mocked for it all day by all the kids…they had finally found common ground, and it was a soybean masquerading as a hot dog.
Soon the BBQ party started and they had all the kids go wait at the playground section of the park and would call each child as their hot dog was ready to come eat lunch.
My brother was the first to run to the pavilion with his PB and Jelly…but I sat there waiting and watching as each kids name was called….until I was the last kid on the playground….but my name was never called. It gets sadder…I was sitting on a seesaw.
Being as young as I was, I had no idea what to do, so I just kept sitting there tears burning my eyes. I didn’t move, and soon all the kids had returned to the playground and my brother shouted, “told ya you should have packed a sandwich!”
Soon I heard the roar of my dad’s motorcycle coming to pick us up, and I ran as fast as I could towards it. I got on the bike, put my helmet on and didn’t say a word. I had no plans to tell my parents what had happened, I was afraid I would somehow disappoint my dad and had planned to pretend the day had gone great (I often did this growing up)…but I hadn’t calculated for Mr. PBJ and as soon as I was on the bike, I heard my brother say, “she hasn’t had lunch dad, someone ate her hot dog.” I was so angry at him for telling my dad at the time, but now looking back, I recognize this as a classic my brother move, where he was showing concern for me and that I hadn’t eaten all day, knowing I wouldn’t tell my parents.
My parents of course found it humorous and they made jokes about the surprise that poor kid got that ate my hot dog (though I’ve always suspected something more heinous was at play) but thinking about that now, and also with two girls of my own actually brings a smile to my face.
I’m proud of that little kid who said f-you to the norm, took her rejection and moved on. Who cares if that was 30 years ago, I can still be the kind of person that brings the meatless hot dog to the BBQ of life. Right? Fingers crossed my brother isn’t coming too 😉