Bully

She came to me, disproportionate tears on standby. “Dad, I want to be friends but other kids make me cry, can you tell me why they think me different?”

(my whole childhood in flashbacks; she’s only five).

“Dad?”

“Hmm?”

“Can you tell me why?”

(words defeat me)

Taking her on my knee, I tell her, “My darling, you are stellar. You are funny and talented, beautiful and brave.”

“Dad, they said I wore boy shoes.”

“The ones we picked? No way.”

“But if they are boy shoes, can’t I wear them? Will they say things? Dad, I’m afraid of when they tease me.”

(the path to hell is being different, poorer or slightly outside the clique)

“First off, kid, you need thicker skin. I only say that because kids can be quick with their quips and you will be pushed around a bit if you can’t take the verbal shove. 

“Secondly, love, who cares about the shoes? I think they’re kickass, don’t you?”

She nods, tear withdrawn. Unenthusiastical embrace, resisting the yawn.

“Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t tell Mom, okay?”

“Honey, you can talk to both of us. I know we’re separated, Dad’s always working, but we are both in amazement of you. I won’t tell her, but you should.”

“Okay. I will.”

“Good. And don’t worry bout those shoes. They are awesome, just fitting for you.”

(the path to Hell is just another road)

“Thanks, Dad. I’m trying to watch my show.”

(she’s clearly deadset on space)

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