I have a profile on Classmates.com. When I set it up, a long time ago, I dutifully filled in not only my high school but my junior high and elementary schools also.
Just the other day I got a notification from Classmates that Max Smith (not his real name) had created a profile.
Oh - my - gosh. Max Smith. I have thought of him and wondered about him often.
We were in third grade together - I don't remember him in any other grade but maybe we just weren't in the same class. It turns out he did move to California eventually.
We were in a class taught by a near-retirement and fairly incompetent teacher. I think she was having some personal problems...her husband died the next year...but for whatever reason, things could be really chaotic in her class. My mom told me much later that she spent 15 minutes in a parent-teacher conference with the teacher explaining all about Mary Beth's work in a workbook. Then she closed the workbook and it had someone else's name on the front.
(That might not be so hard to do, but I was one of about 4 kids in that class who were doing an entirely separate language arts curriculum because we were advanced. So you'd think she would have caught it.)
Anyway, Max. He was the saddest, and the saddest-looking, kid ever. His head looked too big for his body and he was real pale and skinny. I think that a lot of boys teased and made fun of him...I don't remember too well but I know he was kind of a sad sack and I always felt real bad for him. Did I ever do anything to defend him? Absolutely not. It never occurred to me that I could. I was never that courageous as a kid, and I was also way too conscious of my own weirdness (see "advanced class," above).
I also remember that repeatedly he came to school without a lunch or lunch money. Word was that his parents were super rich doctors and travelled a lot? it sure didn't seem like they cared much. I have a memory of the teacher saying, meanly, "Well, you don't have lunch money again, Max? I guess you'll just have to go hungry." Kids would share lunch items with him, but what a criminal lack of care for him to endure.
Max was kind of the embodiment of how I felt inside, a lot of the time. Not that I had a lack of care at home, not at all...but I was conscious of keeping my head down a lot, at school and at home. Things weren't easy then.
Anyway, Max is doing quite well now. Not surprisingly, he was bullied a lot through high school (as he mentioned on the Classmates page) and spent a number of years not very productively. He had a daughter, who he's raised alone since she was 1 and obviously adores. He turned it around, went to college, has a good job, seems happy.
I'm not sure why I'm writing about this; maybe the Friday Five question about "where did the 13-year-old me go" got me into this mood. I do know that it feels like a healing and a release to know that that particular pitiful little boy, whose name has always been synonymous for me with someone who was tormented and un-cherished, has grown up happy and found his way.