The Girl Left Behind
Hey…cool kids over there…
Why don’t you like me?
Why can’t you give me a chance?
If you did, you’d probably like me.
I would play with you. I would share with you. I would be honest with you.
I would laugh with you. I would help you. I’ll remember your birthday.
I would be there for you. I would stand up for you.
I would never be mean to you. I would never make fun of you.
I’m actually pretty cool, if you would just get to know me. Just give me a chance. One chance.
I like rainbows and rocks and art. I like music and cats. I like computers and reading.
See? I’m not so bad. I’m not so weird. I’m not too different. I can be cool, too. I’m not the end of the world.
What did I do wrong?
When I get home from school, I sit and think about the entire day, from start to finish, and I swear I still can’t understand where I screwed up. What did I do to make you mad, to make you turn against me, to make you laugh at me?
I swear I can’t remember being mean. It’s not like I came to school naked. I don’t pick my nose. I don’t eat glue. I don’t hit people. I don’t yell at anyone. I don’t pick on anyone.
It’s not like I don’t know any of the answers when the teacher calls on me. And it’s also not like I know too many of the answers, either.
I know I wasn’t too clingy. I know I didn’t say much, so I know I didn’t hurt anyone. I didn’t run away from you or act like you’re diseased. I didn’t do anything mean. Right?
(This “Kill ’Em With Kindness” thing isn’t working, Mom. I know you meant well. But it doesn’t matter how nice I am. They still don’t like me. I can’t make them like me. I thought adults had all the answers?? I thought their advice would work?? It made sense at the time!)
(Time to emulate…)
Hey… maybe if I copy that cool girl over there, people might like me. They seem to like her, so maybe if I can be like her, people would have to like me, too. I’d be doing the same things as someone whom people already like. Right?
I’ve got my day planned out for tomorrow. I’ll get to school, smile, and say hi to everyone, but not butt into peoples’ conversations or activities.
I’ll keep smiling and say “please” and “thank you”. I’ll make sure my tone of voice is light and bright. I won’t be too quiet or too loud. I’ll be just right. (I’ve practiced).
I’ll be smart but not too smart.
I’ll wear these designer clothes (I’ve already picked them out and pulled them out of the closet). The colors match. The pieces go well together. The styles are “in”. I’ll do my hair This Particular Way.
I’ll walk like this (I’ve practiced that, too). I’ll carry my backpack like this, after I pick it up like this (yep, practiced).
I’ll practice a couple of these specific cool, witty words and phrases so that they roll off my tongue without hesitation.
I’ve even practiced the Right way to say “Hi”.
I’ll pack these specific cool foods for lunch. My sandwich will be cool. I’ll have the right potato chips. The right boxed drink.
Tonight, I’ll watch these two TV shows, so that I have something to talk about at recess tomorrow. That way, too, I’ll know what other people are talking about. Because they’re probably watching that show right now, too. I’ve heard them talk about it before. I’ll write some of the Main Ideas down in my notebook in case I forget.
And then, I’ll listen to the Top 8 at 8 on the radio. So then, I’ll know what songs are cool. And I’d be able to join those conversations, too. (Please let me!)
It’ll be a Whole New Me.
Like I already am, but New and Improved. A Cool New Me. (I can put the Old Me away. I’d rather you forget about her, too. I know I’ll be so nervous but I’ll be calm and I won’t show anything. No one has to know.)
I’m excited. Anxious, scared. But also excited. I’m hoping this is going to work. (This has got to work!)
It’s a foolproof plan. Right? They’ll have no choice but to like me, and I’ve eliminated all the reasons not to. (Right?)
Please, just one chance.