From the moment we realise that consciousness exists outside our own squishy heads and inside the skulls of others, we want to be included. Small children are brutally honest because they don’t have experiences of rejection under their belt just yet. That whole empathy thing is still developing. I rejected kids and I was also rejected. I think I need to get over it.
When I was about ten, I was bullied. That word makes me cringe. Bullied. How weak I felt being a “victim” of “bullying”. I still remember the day that my very last friend turned on me. They joined the others in their endless taunting. I don’t blame them. They had to fold eventually. The cards were stacked against me and there was a massive risk they were going to become a “victim” too.
I changed schools after that. It’s funny though because I kind of always felt like I must have deserved it. It must have been my karma. I pondered over events that had taken place beforehand (within my ten years of life experience that is). Two really vivid memories come to mind to reinforce that I had it coming. Times when I behaved badly towards other kids. Oh the shame.
The first one. I was six. I had fallen off my bike over the weekend and grazed my knuckles right down to the bone. Mum had bandaged the wounds but they were still tender come Monday morning and so she promised to check on me during little lunch.
When she arrived at school, she began to chat with the teacher on playground duty. For some strange reason, I felt this sense of anarchy grow inside of me, knowing that my mum was here and the teacher was no longer in charge of my actions. I felt like I could do anything I wanted and I was on the lookout for mischief. My inner nutcase was coming to the surface.
I ran over to the sandpit where Sarah was digging a ginormous hole and kicked her mountain back into the crater. Sarah was heartbroken. All her effort was being destroyed by my impetuous kicking. She looked up at me, her eyes desperate.
“What are you doing?” She cried, “I am going to dob!”
“You can’t!” I laughed, “My Mum is here! HA HA!”
In my memory, it’s like the Attack of the 50 Ft Woman. I don’t know what came over me that little lunch. I am still doing good deeds to make up for my outrageous attack on Sarah’s crater.
The second one. I think I was seven. I’d like to pretend I was younger but I was evidently old enough to understand basic economics. The root of all evil. Probably a bit worse than destroying the sand crater.
There was this beautiful old tree at our school. The roots were long and windy with little pockets underneath them that we imagined were our bedrooms. Our group claimed the tree most lunches. We played Mummies and Daddies and used the fallen branches to sweep the dirt. Someone was usually the boss of the group; on this day (and possibly many other days) I decided it was going to be me.
It’s vivid. I remember Ellie walking over to us. She was sucking on a red Zooper Dooper. She asked if she could play too. I went to preschool with Ellie and never liked her. She smelt. So on this day when she asked to join us, I wondered what could be in it for me. I mean, I was the boss of the group. Ah Ha! I thought impulsively.
I told Ellie that everyone here had already paid an initial 20-cent joining fee in order to play in our group. I even got a friend to back me up. She was suspicious but clearly our game of Mummies and Daddies around the big old tree had a price. I took the 20-cent coin out of her sticky hand and purchased my own red Zooper Dooper.
The guilt of this event still haunts me. I have seen Ellie in the street. We are both 28 years old and yet I am sure she remembers. I am sure she hates me to this day. Maybe I can pay her back… inflation acknowledged.
I really like being a grown up. When you’re a kid, you don’t like someone because they smell. When you’re an adult, you ask yourself why somebody smells. You can consider the pangs of guilt you might feel in your stomach before you destroy somebody’s work or take somebody’s money. You can remember how much it hurt when someone rejected you and try to be kinder for it. I guess I am glad I hurt others when I was a child. I try really hard not to now that I am an adult. I hope that Sarah and Ellie can forgive me. Maybe it’s time to forgive myself.
Note: All names have been changed in this story (purely out of fear and guilt).