Boys don’t cry. That’s what they told me. Be strong. Stand tough. Don’t be a sissy. You’re weak. Pathetic. Make us proud. Score high. Be popular. Head Boy. Be. A. Leader.
You can be ANYTHING you want to be. The world is your oyster.
Now my head is filled with their screams. Do they adore me? Have I made them proud? Is this what they wanted?
I remember when I was a small boy. The memories flicker in my mind like an old cyni film constantly projecting into the backs of my eyes. You don’t see it do you? I was extraordinary then. So filled with love. Your love.
‘Have a wonderful day my little darling. Mummy will be back in a few hours.’
And then as I cried and called out for her ‘You’ll have fun my love. It’s just for a little while. You’ll make lots of friends.’
I can still see you walking away. No backward glance. It was best for me that way, they said.
Who remembers such details of that time? I don’t really. As I said the memories just flicker in and out.
I miss that time. All that was required of me was to have fun and to make new friends.
“It’s so important for their social skills.’ Someone said.
I was ‘darling’. I was your little boy. Your everything.
So when did it change. When was I not quite enough. When did I have to try harder? Always try harder.
Reach for the stars. You can be anything you want to be. You have so much to be grateful for.
Can I be happy? Can I wake up and feel good about myself. Feel that I am enough?
There was a summer, not that long ago. We stayed at home pretty much all of the time. It rained a lot. I was bored, you said. But so much was going on. My head was full of adventure. The games I played. The films I watched. They took me to places away from being me. I could be anyone. Anyone else. Even outside with only a football for company I was being someone else. But then it was over and I went back to school.
‘Work hard and then when it’s all over you’ll be able to do what you want. You’ll be a success.’
Success criteria. We hear that all the time. What criteria do I have to follow to be successful with this task? If only we were given a success criteria list to make us successful in life. Oh but we do don’t we. It’s being drummed into us.
Follow the rules
Dress in this way
Don’t do that
Don’t do this
Look like this
Make us proud
make us proud
make us proud
Are you proud now mum? Are you proud now dad?
The screaming is still there. People are shouting for me. My names carries through the crowd. There are flashing lights now too. The air is cool up here. It feels good and my hair, cut just right, moves gently in the breeze. I can smell perfume. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but it smells nice. A memory stirs. A hug. A warm embrace that made me feel safe. When I was little.
I step forward and look over the edge. The noise comes up to meet me. I think I see you there mum. Would you hug me now if you were next to me. Would you tell me not to cry?
‘Mummies here darling. Everything’s going to be okay.’
Would you dry my tears and let me feel I am enough just as I am or simply tell me to stop making a fuss and that boys don’t cry.
A little bit about this piece – So, it’s been an age since I did any creative writing and so I wanted to give it a crack and get the creative muscles working again. Over the next few days I aim to sit down and spend a few minutes writing. These will be short snippets of stories, pockets of time that I will allow my imagination to wander in for a while. I will then share them on here. Please forgive their rawness. These are quite literally first, rough drafts but I want to allow the freedom to not worry too much about the finished result at this stage.
The inspiration for this piece came whilst listening to Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure. It’s funny where the mind goes to…
Please feel free to comment and share, and even join in and write something yourself. I sat down for 20 minutes to write this but do feel free to set your own time limit.