When I was little, there was a bully named Kingston who lived down the street from me. He’d been held back two times, was big for his age already, and had it out for someone. Me. I don’t have any idea what I did to incur his hatred and wrath, but he came up with new and ingenious ways to torture me. From swirlies in the boy’s bathroom, to throwing my homework in the mud, to telling Jenny Kratz that I liked her, he made my elementary school years a living hell.
It was no wonder that I developed severe stomach aches. My mother, who is the kindest soul in the world and couldn’t fathom boys being mean to each other (she was raised in a house full of all women except for her father, who was mostly absent working). I’d tell her I was sick, and often I was, puking at the mere thought of having to face Kingston, or “King” as he called himself.
Worried, my mother took me to see various doctors and specialists, none of whom could find anything wrong, naturally. I didn’t have an illness. I had a bad case of the “nerves” as they called them back then.
Exasperated with no one being able to tell her what was wrong with her son, and even after one doctor accused her son (me) of making it all up (no, those butterflies and puke flying out after I’d eat my breakfast were real all right!) she heard about a special pediatrician a few towns over who worked wonders with small boys. She made an appointment but it wasn’t for another three weeks. I didn’t care; I knew that there was nothing that any doctor could do to “cure” me unless they waved a magic wand and made Kingston disappear off the face of the earth, or at least out of my school.
The day arrived and we drove after school to the doctor. At least my mom had picked me up from school so I didn’t to go to the doctor’s office with any new bruises or skinned knees. Or worse. We drove and my mom was silent the entire way. I knew she wanted to “fix” me and I ached to tell her the truth but after all the time and money she’d spent on doctors by now I was feeling very guilty about that as well.
The doctor was young, which was surprising. Most doctors I knew were old. He looked like he could go out and play a mean game of football. He took my blood pressure, weight, and ran some tests. He told my mom that I was underweight for my size and I should eat more. My mother wrung her hands and told him about how I couldn’t keep my breakfast down. The doctor looked at me, puzzled. “Do you throw up after eating anything?” “No. Just in the morning. Sometimes at lunch too.” The doctor stroked his chin. “And you never throw up after dinner or after school snacks?” “No.” “Hmm.”
The doctor excused himself and said he was going to run some more tests. He left me in the room with my mom, who reassured me that he had excellent credentials, although she looked a bit skeptical as well.
He came back in a few minutes later. He asked me to touch my toes and do some other weird exercises, but as I started to, the stupid robe slipped open and exposed me in my underwear. My doctor, seeing my red face, asked if my mom could step outside. She looked confused. “If you have something to say about my son, I want to be here.” He gently led her outside, whispering in her ear. She nodded, but she stepped out. “I’m RIGHT HERE behind this door if you need me,” she looked at me hard. I nodded.
The doctor winked at me. He WINKED at me. “Sometimes Moms shouldn’t be in the same room with boys when they get older.” I let out a sigh of relief. I loved my mom and all, but that was embarrassing. The doctor sat me down and told me that I was perfectly healthy and that there was nothing wrong with me. This made me want to cry, and I felt the tears welling up in my eyes as I tried to blink them away. “But why do I throw up every morning?” “Well, I’ve got something that I THINK can cure this. I am not one hundred percent guaranteed it’ll work, but I find it works better on little boys who believe. Do you believe?” He held up a long, blue, shiny pill. My eyes widened, and I nodded. “Do you know what this pill is?” The doctor looked at me, all of a sudden very serious. I shook my head no. “We only give this to very, very special young boys. Not to girls, only to boys. And only very special young boys.” I nodded, eager to show I was special.
The doctor tapped his pen against his clipboard and then appeared to write some things down. He asked me a bunch of questions about school and how I liked my classes and what my favorite subjects were. I told him math and science were my favorites, but that I hated homeroom and gym class. And I hated recess. “Mmm Hmm.” The doctor scribbled furiously. What was he writing about me? Why did he want to know what classes I liked?
The doctor excused himself again and returned a few minutes later, this with a pretty nurse who called my mom back into the room. The nurse handed her what looked like a big jar of pills and seemed to be quietly giving instructions to her. The doctor watched them for a moment then turned to me. “We’ve decided that you are a very special little boy and deserve these pills. If you take one in the morning, they have a special effect. Not every little boy can handle these pills. We usually only give them to grown up boys. But I think in your case you are ready.”
Oh boy, was I ready! I wanted the pills more than I wanted a new big wheel! The doctor smiled at me. “We’re going to give these about a month for the full effect to take place. Each pill helps build up strength inside of you, and helps turn the delicious food you eat to vitamins that make you big and strong. Now, you can only take one a day because you don’t want to look like a beanstalk!” This made us both laugh. “But I can guarantee you that these very special pills will make sure that the food you eat doesn’t upset your stomach and will help you grow up to a big, strong man.”
I nodded eagerly. Give me the pills! I saw my mother look doubtful. Did she think I wasn’t ready for the pills? Or that I wasn’t special enough? Suddenly I saw her smile and watched her fist close around the bottle. Hurray!
We hurried home and I was eager to try out the new pills. I woke up the next morning early, even before my mother , and was waiting for her to make me breakfast and give me my pill! She got up, and I saw that she’d put the pills on a very high shelf, out of harm’s way. She cooked me something good to eat and I ran upstairs to get all my school stuff together. I came down, and she had a big glass of milk and the pill all ready. I’d never taken a pill that big before, but I knew I could do it. I placed it gently on the back of my tongue and swallowed carefully. I didn’t want any to spill and miss going down. I drank all the milk to make sure it was in there good. I waited. I did feel different. I felt a warmth spread through my stomach and made me feel kind of gushy inside. I felt good, and ready to face the day! Mom kissed me goodbye and I ran to the bus stop. Kingston was there, but I barely noticed him. I was too busy focusing on the wonder of science and medicines taking place in my body. I could FEEL the pill spreading through my body and making me stronger.
Kingston was there, as usual. A little disconcerted that I’d ignored him at the bus stop, he vowed to get even with me at recess. But I didn’t care. I went outside and started playing a game of kickball with some other classmates. Kingston was sulking around the edge of the game, but he couldn’t very well beat me up in the middle of the game. When the whistle blew, I shot right by him, feeling like a speed demon. He stared at me.
I felt myself growing bigger and stronger every day. I continued to ignore Kingston, and finally, bored, he began picking on another boy. I was so happy when I realized that he was finally leaving me alone. I credited the pills for making me big and making him afraid of me. Imagine that! Kingston afraid to bother me any more. After the one month, the final pill, my mom took me back to the doctor. I explained to him what had happened and watched him smile. He asked me if I needed to have more pills, but that normally one month’s supply did the trick. I shook my head no, I was good for now (although I didn’t rule out more in the future!) but I did tell him that there was another little boy in my school who might need the pills now.