Wednesday, 23 January 2013

When I Was 12


As my youngest Daughter turns 13 in the next few weeks, I think back to my life at that age. The snowy photo above was me when I was 12. It was 1982 and I lived at home with my Mum, Dad and three younger Brothers. I was in my first year of secondary school and I was a happy, confident child. I listened to Kim Wilde on the radio, rode my red Rayleigh Chopper bike all over the place, bought my sweets by the quarter, played run outs in the street, and read 'Jackie' magazine. I had a fun childhood with lots of friends.

Shortly after this photo was taken my life changed. Mum and Dad divorced and sold the family home, so Mum bought a new home for us, not far away but it was the other side of town which meant I would now need to get two buses to and from school.

I really liked our new house, I coped with our parents divorce very well and I made lots of new friends. Plus, the prospect of getting a bus to school everyday was an exciting one to me. I was an adventurous child, a confident tom boy, so as I packed my school bag and made my way to the bus stop for the first time I had butterflies, but I felt so grown up as I flashed my bus pass to the driver. The journey went well, until I boarded the bus home and two girls from my school started whispering, giggling, poking me in the back and as the days passed they began pushing me off the bus as the doors opened.

I was a bit shell shocked as I had never experienced any kind of negativity towards me or bullying before. I was very lucky that my primary school years had been a lovely experience so I really didn't know how to deal with the situation. I turned to my younger brother for advice. 

He was 10 at the time, and when I look back now, I realise that he was a very wise ten year old. My Brother said "If you don't sort this out now, you will be bullied all through school!" I remember crying and asking what I should do "Hit them!" he said "Once you have done that, they will leave you alone, and don't show them that you are scared of them"
I didn't feel happy about hitting the girls, I was frightened and it wasn't in my nature to hurt somebody else, but that night, as my Brother held up a pillow and taught me to punch, I went to school the next morning feeling confident that the bullying was going to stop. I pretended not to be afraid, I did punch the girls and I was never bullied by them again, in fact we ended up friends. It worked for me. I was lucky and I know it isn't always that easy to stop bullies. I guess the bullying for me, was mild in comparison to what some others receive.


The rest of that year was good. We had regular contact with our Dad and he had a new girlfriend called Wendy, a girlfriend that me and my Brothers loved to bits. Wendy taught me to crochet that year, she was kind, patient, she cooked lovely Sunday roasts and took us on fun day trips. Most important she liked us kids. Our parents divorce didn't seem that bad at all. They split the following year and Dad went on to marry someone else.


That same year my Mum had decided to sell our new house, but keep half of the back garden. There was method to her madness as she had plans drawn up to build her own, brand spanking new home in our back garden. It was a brave move, especially for a single Mum of four kids. The build took a year, it wasn't without its problems along the way but, it was worth it in the end as it meant she was mortgage free by the time she was in her early 30's. By the time I was 13, we were living in our new family home. A home that I have many fond memories.


Towards the end of the year, I had my long hair cut short as I approached my teenage years. I had learnt a lot about life, love, disappointment, rejection, surviving school and resilience that year. Life lessons that prepared me for adulthood. I went into my 13th year, feeling a lot older and wiser than my young years.

Can you remember what your life was like as a 12 year old?

6 comments:

  1. Sounds similar to my teenage years. Unfortunately I didn't hit back and the bullying went on throughout school. Still what doesn't break us only makes us stronger eh.

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    1. I must admit, I was petrified but I knew my Brother would be asking me all about it when I got home from school, and knowing that it gave me the courage to do it. Sorry to hear you had it bad with bullying, it must have been so awful x

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  2. Gosh, Mama, I am so sorry to hear you were bullied! As a teacher I hate to see that happening, and we do our best to get it dealt with straight away. I was luck that my sister and I had an idyllic childhood, by the sea and on the edge of the New Forest, so we had fantastic Sunday treats! I loved school, had lots of hobbies and friends and feel very privileged to have sailed through my teenage years fairly angst-free, except for a year of wearing braces on my teeth!

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    1. Sounds wonderful. We grew up in London so a bit different to your childhood. Mum used to take us to the coast a lot (although it was Southend, so not exactly idyllic) but then she loved the countryside so would take us on nice long walks too x

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  3. I barely remember being 12, you have such a great memory! Love the old photos too. It's funny when your kids go through their milestones it makes you reminisce about your own childhood. I'm glad you found the courage to stand up to the bullies, who knew your brother was such a wise old owl? ;-)

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    1. Haha, yes my Brother was/is still, a very wise character! ;-)

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