Thursday, October 29, 2009
I was leafing through a giant pile of pictures the other day, cursing myself for not being the scrapbooking type. Hell, I'm not even the baby book type, a fact I was cruelly reminded of when Miss M. turned 4. I opened M's baby book to insert Miss D's birthday card for her, and realized I hadn't filled in a single page for year 3. I suck.
After the Baby Book Shaming, I decided to tackle that pile of photos. Which just reminded me how hard I suck.
But I found the above picture and it made me smile. Even though it's blurry and shitty. This pic was taken a year or so ago, far before the blogging days, so there really wasn't a reason to take a picture of a cupcake...
Except that there was.
It's no secret that I was a fearful, wimpy kid who was bullied relentlessly. It was horrendous, living in that kind of fear, but in a way, I asked for it. I allowed myself to be treated like the World's Own Whipping Boy. I came home every day after school, ate my snack, did my homework, and went to bed without saying a word to my parents about the abuse. Bullies love a victim who won't spill.
Some bullies are worse than others. In my case, it was a stout, ruddy-faced girl named Sandra, who flushed dozens of my mittens down the boys' restroom toilet and even attempted a ski jacket once. She whispered into the ear of every girl in our class, warning them that if they spoke to me, if they sat near me at the lunch table, they were toast. She told the boy I adored that I was a dyke, a word I'd never heard of before.
There are special places in Hades for the Sandra's of the world. There have to be, right?
Last year, Miss D. got a big old dose of Mean Girl from an aggressive cretin named Alize. Lucky for me, Miss D. is the worst at hiding her feelings. The first day Alize messed with her, she arrived home with swollen eyes and a face as open as a bloody wound. And I knew.
Bless Miss D. and her open-book soul; she spilled the goods, smearing my shirt with tears and snot, shattered that someone could be so mean.
So I rubbed her back and wiped her face and told her about Sandra. And Rebecca. And Nicole. And Shannon. And an entire pack of girls in junior high. I managed to attract them in droves, because like all feral animals, they perked up at the scent of blood.
And I told Miss D. the secret that all bullies seem to know: a girl who won't fight for herself is dead meat.
It's a nasty little lesson, particularly when it has to come in the freaking 1st grade...those wenches start early nowadays.
There are plenty of people who will disagree with me, but I will never, not ever, be the parent who tells her child to just ignore a bully. Ignorance is not bliss; it is a free ticket for someone to ride your ass relentlessly.
A few days later, Miss D. came home from school, uncharacteristically silent. I mean, this is a kid who hits the door with a barbaric YAWP! every day. Something was afoot.
It came out at bedtime: my skinny Miss D., who I had to order special pants for in the 1st grade, had an incident in gym class. Quite plainly, her pants fell down. Quickly, she pulled them up, but someone saw. Any guess who that someone was?
And that someone laughed. And threatened to tell the whole class.
I pulled her close, smelled the strawberry shampoo in her hair, felt thick in the throat.
And then I said, "What did you do?"
"I sorta wanted to die, Mom. I was so embarrassed. She saw my underwear and everything."
"I'm so sorry, baby. That's my fault. Remind me in the morning to pin your pants tighter, okay?"
"But when she laughed? Honey? What happened?"
"I told her she was mean."
"You did? Really? What did she say?"
"Nothing. She shut her fat mouth."
"I think it's good you said something to make her shut that mouth...I'm glad you decided to do that."
"'Kay. But Mama?"
"Don't forget about the pants, okay?"
"Promise, baby. Consider it done."
The next day, while Miss D. was staring down the fire-breathing dragon that was Alize, I made cupcakes. Because growing a backbone is mighty hard work. A girl needs to keep her strength up.
Thank God this girl is learning faster than her Mama.