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THE POWER OF WORDS


It was not easy having ears that stuck out from my head like that of Dumbo the Elephant. I can't remember one single day in elementary school when I was not mocked or made fun of. Most of the time, I could laugh it off, even though it was slowly killing me inside. What made the situation even worse was the day that a Spring Park School bully put two things together: the fact that I had big ears and that I was an orphan from the Children's Home Society Orphanage.

"Dumbo the Orphan" became my new name at school.

I was entering the school building when a large bully began to mock me. For some reason many of the students, as well as some of my friends, appeared to be siding with him. There had to be 20 or 30 students laughing at me. I could take no more so I ran as fast as I could out of the building. I continued to run as far and as fast as I could. I had no idea where I was running to and no matter how hard or how fast I ran, I just could not get away from that horrible feeling I felt inside myself.

Within an hour, a policeman stopped me. He questioned me, but I refused to tell him who I was or where I lived. I was then placed into his police car and taken to the station. For hours, the police questioned me, but still I would not tell them anything about myself. All I wanted was for them to lock me away in a jail so I would never have to go back to that school, ever again.

As I sat there drinking a coke, which the policeman bought me, a lady came in to talk with me. She seemed very nice, so finally I told her about my big ears and what the kids were saying about me. She smiled, gave me a hug and then got on the phone to talk to someone. About an hour later, this man came in and told me that he wanted to look at my ears. He looked at me for a few minutes and then he wrote something down in his little book. I was then taken back to the orphanage.

I was told that I would not have to go to school for several days. The next day, the lady from the police station came to the orphanage and told me she was going to take me to a special hospital, so they could fix my ears. We arrived at Hope Haven Children's Hospital where I was put in a great big, white room. I got to watch my own television all that day. The next morning, I was taken into the surgery so the doctor I saw at the police station could fix my ears for me.

The next thing I knew, I was back in my bed. I could hardly think right, cause I was real dizzy like and a little bit sick to my stomach. I sat up in my bed and looked at myself in the bottom of the shiny toilet pan that was on the chair beside my bed. All I could see was these big white bandages wrapped all around my head. I was told they would have to stay there for three days. On the third day, the bandages were removed and all the people just stood there looking at me.

When I returned to the orphanage, all the kids were still in school. I walked upstairs, slowly went into the bathroom and forced myself to open my eyes. I looked at myself in the mirror. I just stood there for the longest time staring at myself. My right ear was lying flat against my head and my left ear was somewhat normal. I lied my head down on the sink and tried to cry, but I was so scared that I couldn't.

Of the approximately 1,854 days that I was called "Dumbo the Orphan" there is one day that stands out more than any other. It was the day I returned to school with wet toilet paper stuck behind my right ear, so it would appear to be even with the left ear. My teacher called me to come up to the front of the classroom. Slowly, I got up from my desk and walked to the front of the classroom.

"Now class, Roger Dean has had some surgery done on his ears. I want us to be very careful with him when we play dodge ball. Do you understand?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am," stated the entire class.

I stood there in front of my Grade 3 class not saying a word. Just about that time, the toilet paper that had dried fell out from behind my ear and landed on the floor in front of me. I just stood there completely motionless with everyone looking at me.

"One ear is not even with the other," said one of the girls who sat in the front row.

"I think it makes him look handsome, like he's been in the war or something," said Sue King.

I smiled at Sue and then I reached down to pick up the toilet paper and stick it in my front pocket. For as long as I live, I will never forget the words, "I think it makes him look handsome."

I believe that might have been the day I first learned the wonderful power of words. I never was very good at 'English' or 'language,' but I knew right then and there, on that very spot, that words and kindness could make or break our world.


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