That 10-Year Old Boy Inside Me

It intrigues me that events which occur to us when we’re young can affect us for the rest of our lives. I guess Freud made a pretty good living with this theory. And it is a recurring theme in my memoir, Immaculate Misconceptions: Tales of Catholic School.

This idea also forms the basis for my friend John Paul Ritchey’s narrative, “The River,” about childhood trauma and the resultant PTSD.

In Catholic school I was bullied and, in spite of all my later accomplishments, I never quite got over it. When, in my recent faculty position, a colleague would exhibit bullying behavior, I would snap back to those moments in grade school, and be unable to respond or counter in a useful way. I’d freeze and not know how to react appropriately.

This is why I say I have a 10 year old boy inside me, and he tends to appear at the most inopportune moments. Self doubt swirls around me as if someone set off a glitter gun of insecurity. Suddenly, if only for a few moments, I am ruled by a boy who doesn’t have the experience I have.

But I’m working on it. Meanwhile, take a look at the poem I wrote about it (below) or, if you prefer to listen, here’s a video of the performance piece with backing musical track. Please note the disclaimer that I am not a vocalist; my “singing” may be painful to listen to.

“Inside (The 10 Year Old Boy)”

Who’s that 10 year old boy
So deep inside of me?
Behind the prickly barb wire
Of insecurity

Most days he can’t be seen
Plays well at hide and seek
But when you least expect him to
He jumps out for a peek

Moody rollercoaster
He’s screaming either way
You never know how he’ll react
What dark thoughts he’ll convey

I try to protect him
And keep him locked away
I’m living with the daily threat
He’ll sneak out another day

CHORUS
That scared ten year old boy
Staring back at me (from the mirror)
Leaning in to see (him coming nearer)
Squinting I look to see him clearer
And I see that boy
Was and still is me.

I’m now in middle age
Respected by my peers
So many admire my wisdom
My collection of years

One doubt and it all cracks
Façade: it starts to break
His tantrum wrecks my certainty
He sets my heart to ache

CHORUS

Standing all tall and proud
So steady, no mistakes
You’d never know the fear within
Below the surface quakes

Who’s that 10 year old boy
So deep inside of me?
He cries himself to sleep in fear
Of mediocrity

CHORUS
That scared ten year old boy
Staring back at me (from the mirror)
Leaning in to see (him coming nearer)
Squinting I look to see him clearer
And I see that boy
Was…was and still is me.













Who’s that 10 year old boySo deep inside of me?Behind the prickly barb wireOf insecurity

Who’s that 10 year old boy

So deep inside of me?

Behind the prickly barb wire

Of insecurity

Most days he can’t be seen

Plays well at hide and seek

But when you least expect him to

He jumps out for a peek

Moody rollercoaster

He’s screaming either way

You never know how he’ll react

What dark thoughts he’ll convey

I try to protect him

And keep him locked away

I’m living with the daily threat

He’ll sneak out another day

CHORUS

That scared ten year old boy

Staring back at me (from the mirror)

Leaning in to see (him coming nearer)

Squinting I look to see him clearer

And I see that boy

Was and still is me.

I’m now in middle age

Respected by my peers

So many admire my wisdom

My collection of years

One doubt and it all cracks

Façade: it starts to break

His tantrum wrecks my certainty

He sets my heart to ache

CHORUS

Standing all tall and proud

So steady, no mistakes

You’d never know the fear within

Below the surface quakes

Who’s that 10 year old boy

So deep inside of me?

He cries himself to sleep in fear

Of mediocrity

CHORUS

That scared ten year old boy

Staring back at me (from the mirror)

Leaning in to see (him coming nearer)

Squinting I look to see him clearer

And I see that boy

Was…was and still is me.

Published by stephenschrum

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts; interested in virtual worlds, playwrighting, and filmmaking. Now creating a podcast called "Audio Chimera."

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