The first time a kid teased me, really teased me was for eating a bell pepper. It was icky, I was weird with my hippified name, long hair and veggies. No one played with me for a week. I was 5 and I didn't tell my parents. I don't know why but it was embarrassing. Very light snow, the girls dark hair, her eyes. Was her name Kelly? I wanted to be her friend. crying. It got better. My school was small. One of the yard mom's noticed, I think, suddenly I was playing with the boys, her boys and I liked boys. Boys made sense. Throw the ball catch it, tag you're it. If you're the only girl they let you explain the rules. The girls got over it.
Then we moved, like I said. You can't pick up where you left off when you move. I "talked funny" in the south. I said "yous guys" and not 'ya'll' worse boys didn't play with girls in Florida. The girl I rode to school with was mean, she was laughing about me to the other girls and suddenly I was nobody.
It doesn't really matter what was said, who said it. I learned with time that I was just as bad. I couldn't trust I couldn't forgive. I started crying at the drop of a hat. I was a mess.
The worst part was my family. They didn't know what to do. My parents were cool when they were kids. They told me so. They hung out with people older than them, rode their bikes around town. I knew in my heart that it killed them that nobody liked me. I started crying at night.
In the 4th grade I started chewing off the ends of my hair. Perfect, straight lines as short as I could get it. I would twirl my hair sometimes it would get stuck and pull out. My parents noticed all the extra hair around the house. I was told to stop cutting my hair. My dad laughed when he found out I was chewing it off but not for long. I started getting in trouble.
This entire time my grades were terrible. I didn't turn in homework, I didn't read except what I wanted (which was always the wrong thing. KIDS JUDGE YOU FOR WHAT YOU BUY IN THE SCHOOLASTIC!!) I played alone at recess. I lied all the time to my parents. I cried when I had to do homework. I was always grounded. ALWAYS grounded because of school. I didn't see my friends on the street.
It's so lonely and quiet. But I'm good about it and I'm good about helping around the house. I do my penance for being an absolute disappointment. Maybe if I had a trapper keeper or a Yikes pencil. Everything feels like rain.
It rains and rains and rains. Summer is really like a golden time. My friend Meagan comes to visit her grandmother and we swim. We play. We stand up every time "Kiss from a Rose on the Grave" plays on WAPE (the only station we can get on the crappy little radio in the back room.) I'm not grounded. School is so far away. Meagan is weird too. My sister is nice when she's not at school. I can't taint her with my uncoolness. I always feel responsible if some one is mean to her and it makes me mean. For three months every year I can breath.
School. I read the books on the reading list no one else read. There are kids who might be my friends, would be my friends but I don't trust them. I don't fail the 5th grade. My mom holds me back. No one warned me. I stare at the check next to "not promoted" and cry. I pretty much have no dignity left.
I overheard my mom and I think my grandmother. I don't remember really except that my mom hoped that it would be better after she held me back. Maybe I'm remembering a lot of arguments but I think my grandmother wanted me to go to a different school. My mom really thinks a different group of kids will be better. Maybe they will be.
On the first day of my second year of 5th grade Sister Valarie has me stand up with the new kids. "Sorcha is not new. She did not move on to the 6th grade. She is repeating the 5th grade." Kill me. Kill me now. RIGHT Now.
I start pulling my hair out.
Sister pretty much points out my every failure to the entire class. Every day my name is written on the board. I don't go to recess. EVERY DAY SUCKS!!
To be fair. I probably could have had friends. Instead I got into fights. Well more fights. I started fighting in the 3rd grade (the one and only apology I got for being teased was from the first kid I hit. His name was Eric, he was, well, bullied into bullying me. It made me so made I shoved him. Parents were called and for some reason this kid was honest. I'm pretty sure his mom flipped out on him. He cried when he apologized. We didn't talk again.) I got into at least on fight a year until my first 5th grade year. I don't remember how many fights I got into.
I pulled all the hair out from my ears down in 6th grade. Julie saw it over Christmas break and told me to hide it. I think Isis told. Anyway my dad saw it and cried and yelled. I don't remember what my mom did or said. I didn't pay attention to her because I couldn't handle the guilt she felt. The sadness and stress I caused.
I didn't try to make friends but I found some by the end of 6th grade. By 7th grade we were enemies They wanted me to be mean to another girl to basically "break up" with her. They had reasons why we shouldn't be friends with her. To be honest, some of them were pretty accurate. She wasn't my favorite person. I tried to reason. We would go on summer break in a few weeks. After that 8th grade, then graduation. No way she'll go to Kenny. No need to worry about it. The didn't let it go. I refused.
The next day after school another girl (not the ones who's idea it was mind you, they were standing to the side laughing) broke up with both of us. She told me I was a loose, I was weird and that they never liked me. All the things I was supposed to be saying.
I cried. I didn't want to. I couldn't help it. My grandfather, the person I wanted least to disappoint in the world came to pick me up that day. He walked up on the entire thing. The other girls laughing, my crying. He was so made and for some reason I thought he was mad at me.
Worse the entire family had to talk about it. My mom called their moms. My dad had me prank call their houses and I laughed with him but it didn't help. Everybody stared the next day at school. We got sent to the principle's office. I explained (in a barely controlled rage -seriously I should have been locked up) what happened. Now they were crying. Now I was mean. I threatened them. Sister Josephine, that wonderful, wonderful woman, asked me why I wanted to be friends with them anyway. She said they were beneath me intellectually and that I didn't belong with them. In front of them. So wrong but it felt so good. I hated them for crying. My mom was off the handle mad.
I didn't realize it but I was at a turning point. The day I had the chance to join in I didn't. I made a choice. Maybe that was what I needed. It didn't get better over night I was still mad, still hurt, pretty damaged to be honest. I had an identity.
I don't know maybe I never would have been the girl, standing there. Saying things I didn't want to say. Maybe it was being bullied that made me so determined to no be that girl.
My daughter's preschool had a rule. Everyone is friends. I hate that rule. It's the worst rule I've ever heard. It's a lie and adults shouldn't lie to little kids.
Trust me I know. Not everyone is friends. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can't be friends with some one. In fact, sometimes you shouldn't be friends with everyone. I don't want that for my daughters. Trust schools to find the only standard more impossible and damaging than every fashion magazine combined. We're all friends. Except when we're not. I hope my daughters can identify who's worthy of their friendship and who isn't. I don't want them to think something is wrong with them when they aren't liked. I don't want them to take every friendship that's offered. I want them to be cool and popular. I want the other kids to want to be friends with them. I want them to float in the bliss of middle school popularity. I don't want popularity to matter to them. I want them to be independent, thoughtful, mature. My mom might have wanted the same things. It's a Rolling Stones song.
I wanted to post this in current events because bullying is such a huge issue. It's not a confession. It is what it is. It happened. Share you're feelings and stories too.