It's the middle of September, and kids have been back to school for a few weeks now. And although it's been a good number of years since I've wandered those halls, I still remember the excitement I'd feel about starting a new school year. I'd be filled with hope for probably about two weeks and then, right around this time every year, my days would devolve into a panic-filled nightmare of name-calling and mockery. The kids had formed their bonds and the cliques were in place. And invariably, I was not in them.
Although High School was definitely the worst (mainly because the bullies from Grade School started getting bigger, enabling them to be physically as well as mentally abusive) the Grade School bullies were pretty terrible in their own right.... and I get the feeling the little girl who left these NeighborGoodies down in the laundry room is having a tough time with some bullies of her own:
It probably started off innocently enough--a little gentle teasing about her lunchbox, perhaps:
A whale on a lunchbox is never a good idea. Not even "Shamu and His Crew" could help her now. Even if this girl wasn't overweight, the kids at my school were so adept at teasing, they almost certainly would have tormented her until she developed an eating disorder:
- "Hey Shamu, is that a picture of yourself on your lunchbox?"
- "Hey Shamu, where's Jonah?"
- "Hey Shamu: Oink, oink!"
Soon, little Shamu comes home sobbing, demanding that everything pink and cute and girly she so wanted during her back-to-school shopping excursion must now be replaced with generic plain items so as to not draw attention to herself.
No more Hello Kitty Pencil Cases...
...no more sparkling puppy planners...
...especially if it contained cutesy sparkly stickers...
...and an equally sparkly calculator inside:
She got rid of all of these things because she couldn't bear to be reminded of anything happy. Even the change purse had to go...
...those grinning faces just reminded her of her taunters--All red and round and...smiling. What a bunch of fuckers!
And although I'm kind of surprised she didn't keep her "Body Bag Barbie"...
...I must say I'm not surprised at her sudden rebellion. When we're young, and it seems that all anyone wants to do is harass you for being different, you just want to fade away, become invisible. But as we get older, the lucky ones realize we should celebrate our differences. Sure, those young years were painful, but they made us who we are. And just as being a bully back then probably helped our tormentors ignore their own issues and insecurities--by bringing ours to the surface, they helped us deal with them early on, so we could move on and be productive, hilarious members of society.
And now, we're smart enough to know that they were, and probably still are, full of self-loathing.
So hold your head up high, Shamu! Soon the bullies will be the Jonahs inside of you!