I watched affection being given to others and measured what these people did to get it. I tried to emulate them, but I was usually unsuccessful. It was difficult to compromise my belief system, even as a second grader.
Most of the time, if I felt someone was getting more attention and affection than me, I blamed my hair. Red hair does nothing for second graders. Even though Grace was in my life, always showing me how beautiful and popular a red head could be, I wasn't wise enough to see it yet.
So, Christmas of 1982 was a little upsetting. We were at my grandpa's, and my uncle hadn't listened to directions, and brought every present he'd bought for his kids to our Christmas Eve celebration. Therefore, most of the presents under the tree were for my cousins. I, in my young mind, thought I'd done something wrong.
I did my very best not to cry. How selfish and lowering; to cry because you weren't getting as many presents as your cousins. The action of holding in my sadness caused that pain in my side to come back.
I laid on the brown shag carpet, doing my best not to alarm anyone, but curling into a fetal position only served to draw everyone's attention. I did cry then.
My eldest cousin hurried over to me. He picked me up and carried me into a bedroom. I told him about the pain. And that all I needed to do was sleep. My parents came in, wondering if they should take me to the doctor, but I told them no. I just needed to go to sleep.
They left the room.
My cousin did not.
He took off his black leather jacket and covered me up. And he stayed with me until I fell asleep. I shall always and forever remember that Christmas Eve.
My protector. The defender of my heart.
And so, his name shall be Alexander...the defender of mankind.