From Chapter: I’m a Biter
My first suicide attempt took place when I was eight years old. I’m pretty sure I was eight, but very well could have been anywhere from the ages of seven to ten. There are certain sections of your life that you just so happen to group together because you basically were the same person and did the same things during that age. During the ages of two to six you concentrate on controlling your bladder while your pants are on and you start to develop a sense of when its not OK to cry and hit people. For me, the same thing could be said of my eighteen to twenty-one age phase and I must admit I had much less success during that period. When I was in that seven to ten year old age span my summers days were spent at the town swimming pool. My mom, a teacher who also had her days off, would either drop me off or stay with me at the pool from around 10 am to 3pm, normally buying me an ice pop here or there and watching me perfect my belly flops off of the diving board. At an early age there was absolutely no promise that I would participate in any portion of the Summer Olympics. I swam like a three legged dog and jumped off of the diving board like I had the aerial control of a penny.
I knew I sucked at anything in the pool other than relieving myself, so I normally stuck myself over near the basketball courts and the stickball area. Surprisingly, as a young kid I was a good athlete. While all of the other kids were busy growing and getting used to their longer limbs and gangly running styles, I had become accustomed to my tiny frame and would utilize to its fullest potential. In Little League I was the leadoff hitter and starting second baseman for back to back undefeated championship teams and I attended basketball camps for three weeks out of the summer and managed to hold my own against the “inner city” youths. Things were going well for me, but if I knew that I would end up to be the size of a baby hibiscus tree I would have spent more time in the classroom and less trying to be an athlete.
My major problem with sports, video games, and general human interactions at that time was my temper. I’m not sure whether it was an early Napoleon Complex or simply a short circuited brain wiring issue, but whatever it was, it caused a good amount of strife in my life. Getting through gym class without taking a swing at someone or playing video games without throwing a juice glass were everyday struggles for me. This was a time before alcohol was introduced to me and its probably a good thing. Had I grown up in Ireland and been allowed to consume bourbon at that age, I probably would have a lengthy criminal record.
My parents must have known about this sort of behavior very early on. I was moved into two different pre-school classes because of oral attack incidents. Pretty much, if I had a problem with you, I saw no way out of it other than to bite any part of you I could get my teeth on. I drew blood both times and the word ‘tetanus shot’ was thrown around in my household quite a bit. The worst part is, I showed very little remorse after any of these assaults. In all honesty, as a preschool teacher I would have made a hard push to introduce tiny tazer guns into the classroom if there were twenty more kids like me in the room. One of my biggest fears is having an army of little, teethy humans munching at feet and legs as I scream for help and try to beat them off with coloring books and letter shaped balloons.
My first incident happened on Day 2 of preschool. I guess during Day One we were going through orientation and there wasn’t much time for me to find a dispute and tear a chunk out of someone. On Day 2, however, they released us into the indoor play area and apparently I headed over to the blocks. Now, most of what follows is an eyewitness account from my preschool teacher at the time. These are “alleged” incidents and if a judge were to ask me I would have to plead the fifth because I could not argue for or against them. For all I know, this was a giant conspiracy to have me removed from her classroom and start the giant, rolling, downhill snowball that became my life.
According to the “source” about ten minutes into the play session, a group of 5 or 6 of us were playing with the foam/plastic building blocks and building a fort. These are toys that no longer exist today, and probably for good reason. They had very sharp corners and were shaped like actual bricks. When one was thrown at a child you could hear an audible “clunk” and said child would drop and cry for ten to fifteen minutes. So this cohesive, block building team eventually evaporates and it becomes a close range dodgeball game. By the time the teacher gets her head around to see what is happening myself and another boy, who we will call “Thief” from here on out, are arguing over a brick. I suppose that she was taught to walk over to the situation calmly to settle the dispute, but if she had any idea that she was dealing with a tenacious, cannibalistic four year old I’m sure she would have quickened her pace. By the time she had gotten over to us I was latched on this child’s upper shoulder and I wasn’t letting go. In my defense, he stole that brick from me and this was my problem solving technique.
Apparently biting gets you removed from a classroom. As a matter of fact, I think biting might be one of the few things that can get you kicked out of someplace no matter how old you are or where you are. I don’t quite remember how they broke the news to me, but I’m pretty sure I still had the brick in my hand and flesh in my teeth. So it was on to classroom number two which was basically a Romper Room. The thinking must have been that if I couldn’t control myself in a normal classroom perhaps I would be better suited in a less civilized environment with the rest of the little lunatics. The plan backfired.
Back in the 80s I feel like things were a little less stringent as far as child safety was concerned. Even at four years old I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus Christ this place is out of control.” Post-biting, I was placed in what must have been an environment for children who weren’t quite ready for pre-school but were much too rambunctious to have at home for a full day. We got picked up at 11am so the day was basically three hours long and in my opinion that was about two hours and thirty minutes overboard. It was a giant gymnasium with what appeared to be no rules. There were little peddle vehicles and tricycles flying around at high speeds. Basketballs, waffle balls, tennis balls, soccer balls, giant bouncing balls and tiny rubber balls bouncing everywhere. The girls were occupying themselves with patty cakes and hula hoops, occasionally being tripped or smashed in the face with an errant object. For a tiny, biting anarchist I felt right at home and looked to settle in immediately.
At age four, you don’t really go up to someone and introduce yourself. You pretty much both look at an object, find it as a common denominator and entertain yourselves for however long you both can pay attention. Normally this kind of an interaction ends in a fight, or just one party losing interest and walking away without an explanation. Things come full circle in about eighteen years when you begin having relationships with the opposite sex. The scary thing about creating a ten minute friendship over an object is that eventually there will be some dissension over how that object should be shared. It took me approximately eleven seconds for me to decide that I wanted a peddling machine.
The peddling machine I settled on was one of those yellow topped, orange bodied vehicles that had two sets of peddles but only one steering wheel. There was another child already driving the one I decided to hop into. I don’t think we really talked much as we took a lap around the gymnasium, we more or less were just watching the mayhem around us unfold as the “teachers” sat on the stage to make sure nobody lit the place on fire or brandished a small sword. It was somewhere around lap two that I must have decided peddling really sucked and I needed to drive. My way of telling the driver that I wanted to switch positions was to quit my peddling job and make a grab at the steering wheel. Again, when you are older and someone decides to vehemently reach for something you have with a crazed look, unless it is your child you will more or less give it up. This brave, oblivious child though fought back control of the wheel and demanded that I step out of his vehicle. Like an angry cab driver telling me to get out of walk, he grabbed the wheel with both hands and put a cease to our ten minute friendship. The only way to get his hands off of that wheel was to chomp at his little fingers….and so I did.
For a short while, life was fantastic. I was driving my own little cart and could not believe my good fortune. I started to believe that with biting, I could take control of anything I wanted. Perhaps when Santa visited this year I would bite him and take his sack of toys, This didn’t last very long once the stage monitors got wind of what happened and without even knowing my name they ousted me out of the cart and called my mother to pick me up.