an ode to my 2nd grade bully

Thank you to the girl in 2nd grade. The one who wore plaid skirts with knee-high socks and brand name clogs, sweaters with gems. The one who taught me early on how mean girls work. Thanks for that time you asked me what my favorite store was and I responded with “Kmart” because that was all my (single) mother could afford at the time. You cackled and told everyone… I learned that I should ask for a shirt from Limited Too that year for Christmas.
Thank you for continuing to pick on me for the next year, waiting to hear any less-than-cool statement come from my mouth so you could flourish in my embarrassment, for never letting me forget that you were richer, more popular, and prettier than me. You taught me very quickly how important it was to hide the less than ideal aspects of my life.
Our city is a small one. I regularly attend professional networking events with my co-workers and husband, and I happened to see you there… the first time in more than 15 years. Both seemingly happy. Both seemingly successful. I wonder if we’re equals now.
I’m not holding grudges for 15 years to a second-grade child, but the petty part of me would sure love to tell you how you shaped my opinion of myself as a child. I hope one day, if you have a daughter, she’ll never be tempted to find her own worth in minimizing others.

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