Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers
A flashback slice!
What do you remember about 7th and 8th grade? I’m closing my eyes and I can see the hallways of my Junior High School. I can glimpse a classroom or two. I remember my Social Studies teacher giving detentions to people who said “Shut up.” I remember that Latin was all the way down the hall, on the second floor, I think. I remember my math teacher slamming a ruler on a desk and screaming “Divided BY!” I vaguely remember display cases across from a water fountain. I remember the cafeteria, and the “lunch ladies” getting so mad if you went to the bathroom instead of outside for recess. And I remember just a few of the kids.
I don’t remember all of their names, and I barely remember their faces. But, there were these girls who decided they didn’t like me. I mean, there were plenty of people who weren’t especially nice to me… but these girls seemed to have it in for me! Snide remarks, sarcasm, a constant stream of jokes at my expense, and (maybe worst of all) a fake friendliness in between every insult.
There was that time I accidentally put my chair leg on the sleeve of a leather jacket. That girl looked at me, lips curled up, eyebrows furrowed. I don’t remember her name, I don’t remember her face, but I remember that expression. I remember how mad she was.
There was that time they made fun of me for not wearing a bra. I think I went shopping for one that weekend.
There was that time they cornered me, accusing me of stealing a tube of bubble gum and a dollar from their gym locker. I had no idea what they were talking about. Somehow we were in the stairwell, 3 of them, blocking the door, in front of 1 of me.
This was 1990. Was that really almost 30 years ago? I don’t remember much, if anything, academic from 7th or 8th grade, but I do remember how mean these girls were!
So, this was bullying, right? I’m supposed to tell you that I was targeted, a victim. I’m supposed to call these girls bullies. My parents were supposed to have demanded consequences.
Fine, I was targeted. They were mean. I don’t know what happened to them at school. I don’t know what happened to them in life. I don’t know if they still think I stole that tube of gum, that dollar. I don’t know what they remember: the stairwell, or what they learned in Social Studies class?
I won’t call them bullies though. I will hope that they are all doing fine in life, happy and healthy.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about bullying… This piece in Teaching Tolerance has a powerful perspective.