Cows, Unlikely Kings, and Other Lessons in Bullying


Bullies are plentiful in the sixth grade. At the age of twelve, most girls learn to exist among cruel whispers and pointing that may or may not be about them. Paranoia is at its peak, but there’s at least some comfort in humiliation that is shared among the majority.

There was one girl in particular who ruled as queen bully between the sixth and eighth grade for me; a tiny thing who wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl. Just the meanest. She seemed to exist in constant disgust of those around her, with our inappropriate eye makeup and misguided fashion sense. Really, anything from 1988 could be interpreted as misguided. But she didn’t know that yet.

She had no idea how much we all hated her. Or maybe she did. She was a universal villain, and somehow that made her tolerable. She was the kind of classic bully we see in movies; a shared experience we can bond over. But sometimes there is bullying that singles out just one person. Have you ever been the one person? Continue reading

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher



On the first day of school, as I entered the third grade, the teachers were still on strike. I was too young to understand that even though my teacher was brand new she was my actual teacher. I spent the first two weeks of class panicked that she was only a substitute, and that my real teacher would come back after the strike was over.

I liked this teacher a lot. Her name was Mrs. Kenyon. You know what I remember the most about her? She liked The Beatles. In case you think I am exaggerating about my lifelong obsession, I used to write Beatles lyrics on the back of my spelling tests while I was waiting for the rest of the class to finish. Mrs. Kenyon would grade my test and complete the lyrics before handing it back to me.

That made her pretty awesome.

When I look back at all of my teachers, there are very few standouts. Plenty of them meant well. Most of them were good teachers who cared, they just didn’t have any great impact on me. That’s fine. Maybe they impacted someone else.

A couple of them stood out as being terrible. Some teachers clearly hate their jobs, and even their students. I had a science teacher in the seventh grade who hated me. My older sister had been a bit of a troublemaker for him, and he assumed I would be the same. He never even gave me a chance. Continue reading