Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.
Prompt 3) Something that scared the Hell out of you when you were a child.
I guess this is the one I am choosing since this was an idea for a prompt that I had sent Mama Kat. Yay and thanks, Mama Kat! She chose it due to it’s Halloween-like theme but when I sent it to her that was not what I was thinking about. I was thinking about something that I saw as a child that was completely different and completely real.
I was in 5th grade, it was Spring of 1980 and our whole school was presented with an assembly. It was done by one man and he spoke about drugs. When I say speak, I don’t mean he just gave a little talk. I mean he did a presentation with slides. The slides were so graphic, the one that stands out in my mind the most was a person’s arm that was infected because he had shot heroin so many times. I had never even heard of heroin…or cocaine or any drug that he talked about. I lived in the New Jersey suburbs in an excellent school district. Everything he said was completely foreign to me, not like it is to kids today. When I was younger I used to picture drugs looking like chocolate. I knew that they tasted good but that they were very, very bad for you. “Drugs” was the only word I really knew.
I saw an assembly, more than one, about how you shouldn’t drink alcohol. I still drank alcohol. I have never done an illegal drug in my life, including marijuana.
The man spoke with such feeling, the slides were so terrifying. And in the end he told us why he had made it his life’s work to go around to schools to talk to kids about drugs…his younger sister had died from a heroin overdose.
There was complete silence in the auditorium. I would never see another presentation like this again.
This man and his story affected ten year old me so much, for months. I would have nightmares. I became depressed. I became paranoid. One of the signs of being a heroin addict the man had said was if people wore long sleeves on a warm day. I would see a girl with long sleeves on as the weather got warmer and wondered if my fellow ten year old classmate was on heroin. I kept having visions of my father pulling up his sleeve and showing me his arm, all infected because he was doing heroin.
It got so bad that my parents considered taking me to a child psychologist, I was THAT freaked out.
And finally, finally, it got better. The nightmares and thoughts stopped.
I don’t know how many kids around the country saw this man, but I am sure he was a large part of why I never tried any drugs. I wonder if he saved any other kids.
I don’t know if they have assemblies like this any more. I imagine that parents and teachers today would view the presentation and it’s slides as way too graphic. I imagine that if I got that scared as a kid today, that my parents would have complained like Hell over what the school had showed children as young as nine and perhaps they would have made the school pay for any therapy I might have needed. Maybe the media would have been called.
As horrific as that assembly was, as scarred as I was by it, I wish that when my son got older he could see an assembly like that.
I am willing to take the risk of scaring the Hell out of him.
Referential Website: Educating your children about the dangers of heroin addiction is one great way of making sure they won’t ever need to sign up for heroin addiction treatment programs later in their lives.