“Momma, do you hear that noise?”
“Yes I do. Those would be cicadas. They are dreadfully annoying. But, I’ve heard them before, that sound is something you will never forget.”
“Cadas? Can they hurt you?”
“Nope. In fact, that very noise reminds me of a story.”
“Ooo, I love your stories!”
The cicadas hummed in the distant wooded trail, just like they are today. The sound often drowns out all thoughts.I grabbed a browned leaf leftover from fall. Crunch.
“I loved the sound that those leaves made!”
“How old were you?”
“Eight or nine, I think. A little older than you.”
“Wow, that was a long time ago!”
So, I laid in the grass, like I did most sunny days, and looked up at the sky and dreamed about what I was going to do when I grew up. I always dreamed about being a veterinarian. I loved taking care of animals ever since my first goldfish from the county fair.
Just like you, I enjoyed doing things my own way, even if that meant I wasn’t liked by everyone.
I heard footsteps and a collection of voices coming closer. I ran my fingers through the blades of grass and clenched my fist. “Ugh!” I lost my breath.
“Idiot, stand up.”
“It was Jacob and his friends. They were very mean.”
“No.” I covered my face and prepared for the next kick.
“Uh, get off!” I sniffled and held in my tears. “Get away, I’m calling my mom.” The neighborhood boys were always following me around. They were always obnoxiously chatting about how weird I was.
“Bug eyes. Are you scared?”
“No. No. I’m not.” My heart was racing. I was very afraid of what they were planning next.
“Dinner is ready.” My mom regularly screamed from the back porch.
These boys chuckled devilishly. “We’re leaving….for now.” The footsteps and laughing faded into the distance.
I wiped the tears resting on the apple of my cheekbone. Pushed my hands against the ground to help me stand up. My mom was standing on the porch with her arms crossed. She was saying something to me, but all I saw was her mouth moving. I creeped up the stairs and into the house. Each muscle and bone in my body felt bruised. No one should be treated this way.
“Wait, did your mom ever catch the neighborhood boys?”
“Let me finish..” I placed my hand on my daughter’s leg.
Sitting down at dinner, I reenacted the kicking and the name calling. I was looking for some sympathy. My mom stared at me as I retold the entire story.
“Honey, I’m sure it’s just because they like you.” My mom was reassuring me there was nothing mean about how they were treating me. She responded this way each time I told a story about a boy.
Psh, what a parent thing to say, right? A fire burned beneath me. My mom never listened to me. Boys weren’t allowed to like me. I was a tough girl and I had to show them.
I ran outside, still chewing my last bite of food. The evening sun was shining in through the dining room window. “Mom, can I pleaaaaaaase go back outside?” Every moment of sunshine was worth enjoying. I loved exploring the bugs, rolling in the grass and digging through my mom’s vegetable garden. I secretly took a few bites of the veggies, even after she told me not to.
“By the way, fresh peas are delicious. We should start our own veggie garden.”
This particular evening, the neighbors had gathered on their decks and patios to enjoy the after dinner drinks. You could hear the laughter. All of the kids that lived nearby rode their bikes up and down the street. I was picky about my friends, I often played by myself, which is totally okay.
I heard voices again. Those boys were coming. Again.
“Mom, what did you do?”
“Hold on, I’m not done.”
I continued to play in my backyard, roll on the ground and watch the sky spin.
“I love to spin!”
“ Yes you do! Spinning around always made me sick, but it was so fun!”
“Hey, big eyes.” He chuckled loudly and threw a rock in my direction.
I quickly threw a rock back. “Hey Jacob.”
He spit my direction. “Come here.”
Jacob and his friends walked closer.
The strong girl that I knew was inside me started to feel twice her size.
“You guys come here.”
Jacob turned around at his friends. “Nerd, we don’t have to listen to you.” They started to walk away.
I looked, my mom was now standing on the porch watching me.
“Boys.” I held my hands on my hips, spread my legs apart. This was what I called the superhero stance.
“Yes, I’m a nerd. Yes, I have big eyes. But, I am strong, smart, brave, and beautiful.” I puffed my chest and moved closer to them. My mom was preparing to step down into the grass. But, I knew I was everything I said I was. The confidence I was feeling was something totally new.
Jacob and his friends clenched their fists, and stared at me.
I swear I didn’t want to. But, I had enough. Just like that, I punched Jacob square in the face. They ran away from me so fast. The looks on their faces burned in my brain.
My mom ran to hug me. I had a sudden rush of emotions throughout my body. I cried, but I wasn’t sad, I was happy.
“But, mom, you always taught me that you shouldn’t hit people?”
“Yes, you are right, but sometimes, that’s the only way to get the message across. You always use words first.”
“Where did that come from?” My mom had no clue these boys were taunting me or physically hurting me. Unlike my mom,I want to be there for you, and teach you how to stand up for yourself.