Every day, Facebook pages are filled with birthday celebrations, happy pictures, balloons, birthday cakes and best wishes. It made me think and remember my childhood birthdays.
The environment I grew up in never paid any attention the birthday celebrations. Only in school, I became aware that birthdays, only of special children, were celebrated as a great event. When I was about to turn ten, my dreams were so filled with anticipation, that maybe someone at school would mention it, that I could hardly sleep the night before the great day.
The next morning at school nothing happened, nobody said a word and I swallowed my pride and disappointment by acting as normal as possible. About a week later at the end of the school day, the schoolmaster formally mentioned that it had been my birthday and therefore I got the privilege to stay after hours to do chores, cleaning the classroom, watering plants and carrying out the garbage. I wasn’t sure that it was either a bonus, or a punishment but I duly did my assignment. It must have taken about twenty minutes.
At the end and before being releasing me to go home, the schoolmaster told me to sit down behind a little keyboard and play some notes. He pulled up a chair behind me and started to give instructions, while holding both my legs tightly in a firm grip with his big hands. Since I never touched a keyboard before in my life, what came out must have been quite awful. There upon the teacher got very annoyed, picked up a blackboard cleaning brush and started to give me a firm thrashing. He must have hit a little too hard since he knocked me unconscious. I do not remember much of the incident, only that I had to stay in a dark room for weeks with a concussion. What happened afterwards at school changed my life forever.
I learned that the teacher had been arrested and went to prison for a series of violent sexual abuse cases with schoolchildren. I was let off easily, the head master told me, but was never allowed to join a classroom ever again. For the rest of my school years, I was ostracized into a little side room, and not allowed to attend yard play, gymnastics, or any other group activity. In the morning and at the end of the schooldays, I was supposed to enter and leave the school building via a side door at different times from the rest of the school kids. At age twelve, initially no secondary school was ready to accept me, since I was labeled a “trouble child.”
Remarkable, how our world has changed.
Happy birthday kids!