This post picks up (pun accepted) where the last one–“Incorrect. Wrong. You Don’t Fit Here.”–left off. It’s still the first day of Miss Slack’s 3rd grade class.
Daddy had told me to take the bus home, and as class let out that afternoon, I asked Miss Slack which bus. She marched down to the principal’s office, dragging me behind. After finding out which bus I should get on, she shooed me down the hall, toward a backlit glass door, which looked like I would be walking into the light at the end of my life.
I sat on a seat mid-way down the aisle. The bus driver cranked the lever, and the door swung shut, but just as we were leaving, two girls ran up and banged on the door. The driver let them in and they quickly walked down the aisle. The brunette girl must have been a sixth grader as she was tall with an adult figure. The other girl was small, maybe my size but skinnier, with the skin of an albino and hair the color of a young pumpkin. They looked like misfits. I was eager to make friends with them.
When they got near my seat, the bigger girl noticed me and stopped. She turned to the other girl and said, “Get in there.”
The redhead moved into my seat, and I scooted over, but she didn’t sit down on the outside. She climbed over me, stepping on both my feet in the process, and squished down between me and the interior wall of the bus so that I had to move over a bit. The big girl then sat down on my other side and pushed heavily against me so that I was pressed between both of them.
I looked from one to the other, wondering what in the world was going on. “Uh, hi,” I ventured.
They ignored me, but nodded at each other. That’s when they each took an arm. The afternoon had gotten warm, and I had taken my jacket off at the bus stop. I had a thin long-sleeved blouse on, but that didn’t deter these girls. They each started pinching an arm in earnest. “Ow!” I repeated ow over and over, looking around at the other kids for help or at least moral support, but everyone ignored us. It was as if we had moved into an alternate universe, and although I could see and hear the others, these two girls had whisked me away to a place where we had become invisible to the others. A dangerous place where I was totally on my own.
It seemed as if the four mile drive took an hour. Unfortunately, the girls got off at my bus stop. I had to follow the big girl off, while the redhead followed me, kicking at the back of my knees along the aisle. The minute my feet touched ground, I took off running, while I heard them laughing behind me. I ran all the way down the street with tears rivering down my cheeks. At home, I ran to my bedroom and slammed my door shut. I ripped off my blouse and saw that the skin on my arms was shredded with their pinches. Wiping my face with my blouse, I threw it on the floor, and then flung myself onto my bed where my tears turned into sobbing.
By then I was crying at missing my friends Vivian and Michelle, as well as Miss Dixon. I was crying for my old neighborhood and my sandbox that I hadn’t played in for two years. I was crying because I hated Miss Slack and her horrible class of mean kids. And I was crying for myself, lost in a world which had suddenly become dominated by an intolerable bus ride to and from a place which had no room for me.
How did I go from being on top of the world to being one of the downtrodden? How did it happen that two different incidents of bullying—1) by the teacher, and 2) by the girls on the bus who were not in my classroom—occurred at the same time?
So I don’t leave you hanging, Miss Slack continued to ask the class to show displeasure at my inability to remember to box my answers, and I became well acquainted with the health room from all my trips to get out of class. Those girls on the bus continued to pinch me for about six weeks. I finally told my mother and showed her my arms. The girls stopped, and soon it was as if it had never happened.
Well, except that now I knew what it felt like to be bullied, an experience that left me more empathetic to others, but also insecure and less confident.
I don’t know if my mother did something to get the girls to stop or if the cessation of bullying was a coincidence. If I ask my mother today, she wouldn’t remember. She never remembers events of the past, choosing to focus on the day-to-day.
Did you ever bully another child?