I know, I know.
Get over it. It was years ago.
And I HAVE gotten over it, for the most part, but I haven't forgotten it or the boys who were the ring leaders. I can tell you their first and last names and their faces are very clear in my mind.
I haven't seen these boys since high school and they probably would have no idea who I was if they saw me in the street. I remember when I would see them in the hallways at school. Sometimes I would stare in one direction and casually (and very forcefully) kick them as hard as I could in the shin. (I have never admitted that to anybody before right now. In fact...I think I had completely forgotten about it.) It was my only way of getting back at them for the daily torment on the bus, which finally ended when they were called into the principal's office.
They used to make fun of my hair. They would scream insults about my hair as I was leaving the bus and had my back turned to them. There were three boys that led all of this, and many more chanted along with them, blindly following them, which reminds me so much of Judy Blume's book Blubber. So many kids are just flat-out hurtful, cruel and can't think for themselves.
(When I was younger, I didn't quite know what to do with all of this hair, but today, it's my signature trait and I wouldn't want it any other way. But, those boys thought it was awful enough to make fun of it daily for our entire eighth grade year.)
I would get-off of the bus and cry. Every day. Self-confidence still isn't my forte, and things like that didn't help. I know they were just being kids and that they had no idea how much they were hurting and embarrassing me.
At my last youth group meeting, we had the kids talk about things they've done that they've regretted. I was talking to the young man who volunteers with me and he said that he used to make fun of kids on the schoolbus. I've been working with him for years and consider him a friend...he's a nice guy and is becoming a father next month and I'm sure he'll make a great one.
BUT...he used to make fun of kids on the schoolbus!
And, fifteen years or so later, he still feels bad about it.
I can't tell you how much I appreciated knowing that those horrible boys from the schoolbus...the ones that used to make me cry...just might have grown into very nice guys who volunteer with church youth groups and STILL carry regret for how mean they were.
I wonder if those boys out there still feel bad about making fun of that girl with the wild hair.
(By the way, as I was writing this, I wondered what became of them. I Googled them. None of them are fabulous off-Broadway playwrights with naturally curly hair. I win!)