We lived in Melbourne from when I was 7 until I was 11. Coming from Sydney, I felt like a fish out of water. It got colder than I could ever remember and we had to start wearing thermals and skivvys under our clothes, which I hated. At school, the first question I was asked by the kids was “who do you barrack for?” Embarrassed, I said I don’t know, which made them tease me. Mum told me to just say I went for Collingswood, the Magpies, because her father had played for them. She taught me they wore black and white, and explained that in Victoria they had different football, VFL it was then, and it was taken very seriously. My confidence boosted, the next day at school I proudly informed the third grade of my heritage, which invoked a certain awe from the boys.
Overall, I found it all very confusing and overwhelming. The kids were often excited about going to the footy on the weekend, and soon it was discovered I never went and could not go. The footy was on the Sabbath (Saturday) and therefore was off the menu completely. The Sabbath lasted from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset and during that time there was to be no work, no play, it was holy time. Poor little me tried to explain this to the kids, believing entirely in honesty, but was horrified to learn this turned them against me. Thus began the taunting and bullying that took me 2 years to overcome.
“You’re so posh! Why do you talk like that?”
“Ooooh look at Miss Goody-Two-Shoes all prim and proper in her full uniform, she’s from Syd-ney, she’s too good for us”
I pleaded and begged with my mother to allow me to wear a more casual form of the uniform, and no uniform at times too, so I could fit in. She wouldn’t have a bar of it.
We had standards to uphold, she told me, and were here to set a good example. Would God want you to dress like a slob? Would you see the Queen dressing like that? I gave up in the futility of my quest.
Fortunately for me, I developed two friendsships, Narelle and Lisa, and they were not like the other girls. We thought the other girls were boring. I sat with them in class sometimes and played with them sometimes. Later they would become my best friends, but meantime I was often on my own, running away from the boys taunting and threatening me.
I refused to cry when they caught me. No matter what they did, they were not going to get the satisfaction of seeing me cry. They hit me, pulled my hair, and kicked me. I’d eventually escape to their peels of cruel laughter and find a teacher to dob them in to. But nobody ever did anything about them.
At night I couldn’t sleep, reliving the horrors of the day and dreading tomorrow. I started to take a book and a torch to bed with me to read until I fell asleep. Months later, things had deteriorated so much, I cried every night instead. Pleading every night with my parents not to send to school anymore, I was beyond desolate.
One day, the bullies decided they were sick of getting no reaction from me, no crying. After a particularly brutal beating at lunch time this day, Trevor grabbed me by my long blonde hair, and bragged that this will make me cry. With a forceful tug of his fist, I began to be dragged along the asphalt. I still didn’t make a sound. He kept going, kept going, until tears stung my eyes and my grazed body wept with degradation.
“Stop!!!” I yelled. “Stop doing this to me!!!”Shocked, he dropped me. Speechless, he held my gaze for a moment, then scampered away with all his mates.
Mum was enraged. That was it for her, she would sort this ratbag kid out and he won’t DARE touch her daughter again. Suddenly everyone was taking me seriously and it felt strange.
The very next morning, Mum walked to school with me, her confident hip-swinging stride giving my heart a faint glow of hope. Not knowing what Mum would do or how she would do it, but hoping fervently that she could magically make this bullying stop, I felt nervous and scared and excited all at once.
We got to the school, and as usual in the front yard there they were.
“Which one is he? The ringleader, the one who dragged you by your hair?” Mum asked me. I pointed to him.Mum marched boldly up to Trevor and addressed him firmly and loudly by his full name. Turning around and caught off guard, Trevor looked scared. Mum grabbed his shirt collar and hoisted him up in the air so he was level with her eyes. She shook him, then said loudly, “Don’t you EVER touch my daughter again, do you understand?” He got the look in her eyes and quivered, saying “Yes, Mrs Wilson”. She tossed him back on the ground and glared at his open mouthed mates. “The same goes for the rest of you. Don’t let me find out any of you hurt my daughter again!” she growled. Then she turned on her heel, and stalked back to me to say goodbye, and leaving bewilderment in her wake.
Suddenly everything was different. Trevor’s mates turned on him, and teased him for being scared of my Mummy. The terrifying Trevor existed no longer. Without his pack, he was nothing. He never was let back in, and I was not bullied again at that school.
Next in store for me, was a real surprise. Trevor wanted to “go out” with me. Oh I laughed at that, after all he did to me how dare he? Having noticed his long curly black eyelashes that I envied, I realised this would be a weakness to him. I started telling everyone he was the “King of Mascara Man”. It worked, and from now til 6th grade he came to know how alienating he had been, he knew how it had made me felt, and he became a sad looking boy.
By 6th grade, I’d felt it was wrong that I’d done that to him, thinking two wrongs don’t make a right, but it was too late to do anything about it now. I just hoped when he had a new start in highschool, he wouldn’t forget this lesson, and never hurt a defenceless girl again.