Image by BigStock.
I was born in Merritt, BC back in 1974. June 18th. I was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which is a deformity in the facial area: a receding jaw, bottom eyelid not lined properly, and one undeveloped ear.
Growing up, I didn't realize that I was different from the other kids, even if they did make fun of me, not until I got to kindergarten. Kids would ask me questions like, "What happened to your face? Was your mom or dad a ghost when they had you? Were you born under the bridge?" I was pretty confused about all these comments.
I was getting ready for school one day and when I looked at myself for the first time the way the other kids saw me, I cried. I became shy and insecure with myself. I was sad because I went from one day having lots of friends to having no friends.
One of my uncles went to high school just down the road from my elementary school, and he came to pick me up every day. He said he remembers these bigger girls who pushed me up against the wall and picked on me. He came running and he vowed that that it would never happen again.
He decided to teach me to stand up for myself, to stand up to bullies picking on me and making fun of me.
If I cried, he'd laugh at me and asked if I wanted to look like that forever, and that I wasn't allowed to be a sissy. He tortured me profusely for weeks and weeks 'til I got mad and fought back. Once I fought back, he would teach me moves and not to be afraid. "Kids won't pick on you if you show them you're not scared," he said.
Well, after all that he put me through, he was right. The kids stopped picking on me once I showed no fear. The kids would learn real fast that I wasn't going to take it from them.
I even stood up to my one particular bully. Narvinder was his name. He would always push me down, throw my books around the school yard, always shove me. "I'll get you after school," he'd growl in my good ear.
One day I yelled back at him and said, "I am not afraid of you anymore, and this stops today!!"
I marched to his house and told his mother. She called him in and at the end of the yard I could see that his mother spanked him with a wooden spoon.
He never bothered me again.
I was pretty proud of myself for taking back my life and allowing myself to explore, make new friends and just be a little kid.
Jennifer participates in Megaphone's community writing workshop.