Growing up, both of my parents worked a lot. When I was in elementary school, I got dropped off at a daycare center on my school’s campus about 6:30am, then didn’t get picked up until 6pm. I was usually the first and last kid there, Monday through Friday, from Kindergarden through 6th grade. While I’m sure that spending the bulk of my formative years (at least during the hours I was awake) in the care of adults who were not my parents had all kinds of negative impact on my psyche, I’ll have to save that sob story for another day. In this post, I want to focus on the friendships I formed at this daycare center, and on one friendship in particular.
I became “best friends” with Jane in first grade. She was in third grade. If you have kids, work with kids, or know any kids; you probably realize that the developmental differences between a six year old and an eight year old are huge. Most eight year olds don’t want to hang around with six year olds. Jane did, though. I wasn’t her only six-year-old-friend either. There was a third girl named Jillian. Jane was the Queen Bee and Jillian and I were her devoted followers.
Jane would pit Jillian and I against each other. She would set up competitions between us, where we would have to prove who was the better friend. The winner would be awarded things like sleepovers at Jane’s house, and titles like “Jane’s Best Friend.” Competitions usually tested how devoted we were to Jane and what lengths we were willing to go to for her. Jillian eventually moved away, but I still had to constantly vie for Jane’s friendship.
One time she made me ingest soap. She got a handful of powdered soap in her hand, then forcibly held my head over it with her other hand and would not let me go until I snorted the soap out of her hand. I remember sneezing and crying all at the same time, and a horrible burring sensation in my entire respiratory tract. For some sick reason, though, I still wanted desperately to be Jane’s friend. When the teacher asked me why I had snorted soap, I said something stupid like, “I wanted to see what it smelled like,” instead of, “That sick bitch Jane forced me to.”
Another time she stuck some putty in my long, curly ringlets that my teachers and later my mom could not extract, forcing me to get a very short haircut that I despised. Rather than give Jane up, and risk rejection; I told my teachers and my mom that I had stuck the putty in my hair myself.
Another Jane inflicted trauma came when she cleared all of the toys out of a toy chest, then she made me climb inside. I didn’t want to. I was scared she would lock me in there. She promised she wouldn’t. She just wanted to see if I fit, and if I was really her friend I would just get in. I wanted to prove I was her friend, so I got in. Of course, she immediately shut the lid and sat on it, trapping me inside. I have a fear of inclosed spaces to this day. Years later, when I told my therapist this story she said, “Now we know who your first Dom was.”
What’s obvious as an adult, is that Jane liked younger girls because they were easy to manipulate. She probably wouldn’t have been able to get a kid her own age to climb into a toy chest, when she was so obviously itching to trap someone inside.
For a time, there was a intellectually disabled boy at this daycare center. Jane loved to torment this poor kid. While the other kids usually ignored him, she pretended to be his friend so she could torture him for her amusement. Her favorite game was tricking him into eating things that were not food — crayons, play dough, mud, etc. — by telling him they were chocolates or candy. She would also call him a retard to his face and teach him to say things like, “I’m a retard.” She devised a game called, “Retarded School,” where she, I, and whomever else we were playing with (always kids 2-3 years younger than her) would imitate and mock this poor boy. Luckily his parents didn’t keep him at the daycare center for too long.
A lot of Jane’s games were sexual. She liked to play “doctor.” She liked to tickle me and poke me between my legs with phallic objects, like a twirling baton. She got the jump on my parents by a few years when she told me all about the birds and the bees. She was also the one who told me that Santa and the Easter Bunny didn’t exist. She was a sadistic little girl. And I loved her so.
In retrospect, I realize that Jane, who had two teenage brothers and an alcoholic father her mother was separated from; was probably messed with at some point, which lead her to mess with me. No one just becomes a sadist intrinsically, at least not at eight years old. Or maybe they do? I mean I had no trouble falling into the role of her devoted punching bag/bottom bitch.
What’s interesting to me, is that somehow, I’ve been this “do whatever you want to me, just don’t leave me,” desperate, clingy doormat since I was six. Maybe even before then. Was I just born this way? If so, will I ever be able to fully transform into a healthy person that a romantic partner can respect and love?
While I don’t know the answer to these questions, I do know that I am already changing. Slowly, I’m becoming someone that I love and respect. I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that being able to love and respect myself is a prerequisite to finding a partner who will.
I lost touch with Jane when she went to middle school. I often wonder what she is doing now. Maybe she is in jail for manipulating her lover into murdering her husband, maybe she is a pro Domina, maybe she is a married born-again Christian with three kids, or maybe she is a special ed teacher. I’ve tried to look her up on Google and Facebook, but her name is too common. Oh well. Some mysteries are better left unsolved.