Perhaps I should have been more sensitive. Thought things through before I bought them. It was about identity you see. I was tapping into her identity instead of finding my own.
Now bullying isn’t right nor acceptable under any condition, but I remember her face when I strolled up to that school bus. She looked furious. ‘Aye, newbie! What’s with the socks?’ She snapped I ignored her.
The next day there I was again in my knee-high blue socks. She was the only girl in the school who wore them, until I did that is.
They suited her. She had good legs. So popular she was with the boys. Unique I suppose you would say. And then suddenly there was me. The new girl! It’s always difficult to merge when you arrive half way through the school year, and they have already established relationships. Nevertheless, some tried to make me welcome. But I saw her popularity and copied.
Why couldn’t I just be me?
Actually, it was a compliment. I wanted to be like her. To be surrounded by friends. But I couldn’t be like her, I was me.
Everyone commented on the socks. They knew she wouldn’t like it. I never imagined it to cause so much conflict. This was warfare.
Then the bullying started.
The popular girl who I had admired became the mean girl that I loathed. I tried to avoid her on the school bus, in the corridors and in plain sight, her gaze.
A whisper one day from the sweet ginger girl who sat next to me in Science. Her words resounded like a slap across the face.
‘Why are you wearing those socks again? You’re asking for trouble!’
That night I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t talk to mum or dad or little brother Kevin. I just needed to think.
‘Why are your long blue socks in the bin?’ Inquired mum next morning over breakfast. ‘You pestered me to buy them, now you’re throwing them away!’
‘ I’m being me mum. From now on I will be wearing the regulation black tights which is what I was supposed to wear in the first place.’
‘Hum! Does that mean someone told you off at school?’
I didn’t answer, but smiled knowingly.
But is was too late, I’d annoyed her. She didn’t view it as a copy-cat compliment. It was her identity of course, and I was intruding. What impression had I given to them all. A thief? A weak immature girl without a personality of her own?
I waited till the right moment. Was there ever a right moment at times like this? I followed her to the school bus and with baited breath sat beside her. She looked horrified. How dare I? I looked into her eyes. She was so pretty. I had just wanted to feel a sense of belonging and be popular like her.
‘Sorry!’ The word jammed in my throat, but I finally managed to spit it out. Not literally of course. I couldn’t try to steal her identity and then spit in her face, now could I?
‘Whaaat you sorry about newbie?’ She snapped.
‘Hum!’ She threw her chin in the air and wafted me with the longest pony tail I had ever seen.
‘Well perhaps you should get a life of your own and stop trying to copy others. What did you come to this school for anyway? You went to that posh independent school down the road didn’t you?’
I explained, she listened. We began to talk. We had so much in common I could hardly believe my ears. The school bus stopped it was my exit. We exchanged numbers.
‘How was school today?’ Mum asked. ‘Feeling any better?’
I was too busy texting.
‘How was school? Do you think you’re going to settle? I know it’s difficult going into a year half way through but…..’
‘ It’s fine mum.’ I interrupted still texting. I made a new friend today. She’s invited me to hang out with her this weekend. Can I reply to her now and say it’s ok?’
Mum smiled a sigh of relief. ‘Of course it’s ok.’She didn’t even ask where my new friend lived. She was just happy.
I was happy too.