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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Column, "Just a Thought" in La Prensa of San Antonio, 1-6

Just a Thought:
Memoirs of a “Dumb Kid”
By Steve Walker

Growing up labeled as a “Dumb Kid” was disconcerting to say the least. Think about it. How would you feel hearing that during your formative years? Imagine the relentless repetition and reinforcement that no matter what you did or what you said, you were branded by your father/mother/siblings and then those around you chiming in the refrain, “Dumb Kid?” or even worse.

Do you think it would affect your self esteem assuming that you actually had any? Sadly, thousands of children of all ages hear comments like, “you will never amount to a hill of beans,” or “you will end up being a garbage collector.” And of course the big one, “you are a loser just like…“ (Fill in the blank)

Many people from every generation have heard similar comments that have one thread that binds them together. It is all negative. In a world of putdowns, verbal jabs, accusations, labels, etc. it happens to most of us at one time or other.

Those who have never felt the sting of the putdowns or name calling are the blessed few. I personally don’t know too many of “those” people. Some of us are barraged with it for years extending well throughout our lives until we are really old.

No age, race, economic category, or religious or non-religious affiliation is immune to the onslaught. Take for instance, politics. We won’t even go there for now.

As a “Dumb Kid” survivor, I can attest from my own life growing up with that tag as well as “Smart Aleck,” & “Stupid Kid,” it can get on your last nerve. My father interchanged “Dumb Kid” & “Stupid Kid” at will depending on his mood. He saved the “Smart Aleck” moniker for when I said something I believed to be cute or funny and he thought differently.

That label was hurled at me many times as well. Looking back and reflecting, I actually reveled in that moniker to be honest. It meant I got to him for some reason, and that was my payback for his verbal assaults on me.

Unfortunately my compulsion to interject clever or funny comments in numerous conversations and situations have sometimes had the opposite affect and caused an adverse reaction to my well intentioned humor. As a former Judge on the bench, it has gone both ways.  Apparently humor is in the eyes of the beholder and not the same for all. How well I know from experience then and now. Sometimes it is a hard lesson to learn as a recovering “Dumb Kid.”

Sharing my own history of suffering, rejection and verbal putdowns is a healing process in itself to be shared with others. As a retired school teacher who taught fulltime in the classroom for 26 years, plus other classes along the way, I encountered many students and teachers and faculty who were coping with the same affliction of low self esteem and rejection.

We will address that in next week’s column when we pick up the narrative in part 2 of “Memoirs of a Dumb Kid.” I will close in reminding the reader that what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace. His “Ask the Judge,” column in La Prensa ran for two years.

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