Kids Can be Cruel

| by Yadira Orduno |

Growing up I learned that kids can be cruel early on.
See, it was kindergarten when I first got bullied.
I learned that kids can be cruel when the other kids made fun of my
body hair.
Something that I have no control over.
They made fun of my name, which is foreign.
They called me “illegal,” because of my race.
Kids can be cruel.

Fast forward to the fourth grade:
they had us dance for this event,
but they paired us with partners of the opposite gender.
And when my partner held me, I felt strangely uncomfortable.
He asked me my name.
What is my name?
I told him.
He laughed.
Not the kind of laugh you get when you tell a really good joke,
no, the kind of laugh you get when kids can be cruel.

He told me my name sounded like fajita,
and just like that my name was nothing more than a Mexican joke.
Just like that I was named nothing more than the consumption of “kids
can be cruel.”

Two years later, and I’m entering the sixth grade.
Middle School.
I remember I was wearing my favorite jeans and a pink shirt that made
me feel pretty.
I sat out in the hall doing work when a girl I used to be friends with
in the third grade was talking about shaving.
Not just legs.
Without asking permission she lifted up my pant leg,
and even though a few months ago having hair on my legs had been
completely normal,
I was now being told that it is disgusting.
Kids can be cruel,
and I’m taken back to kindergarten when it all began.

I went home that day and took one of my mother’s razors.
I remember not having a clue how to use it.
I looked down at the sharp razor blades.
I remember thinking “I should be more careful with these razor

One year later and it was now seventh grade.
I began to lose friends, people stopped talking to me, and I had no
idea why.
This guy had a group of his friends torment me in the hall.
They made gorilla noises every time they saw me.
They dubbed me “gorilla” because of my body hair.
This was the same guy who had asked me to have sex with him, twelve
year old me, and became angry when I said “NO.”
So, now, not only is my innocence ripped away from me,
but I’m back in kindergarten again,
remembering that kids can be cruel.

Eventually, the fear and anger festering within me finally spilled out
when I locked myself in my bedroom
and cried
and screamed.
I screamed at no one,
at everyone,
at who people call God,
at myself.
Kids can be cruel.

I found out when the sharp edges tore my skin open.
When my thighs burned with pain.
When my hands were stained red.
I wounded my body and my soul,
because kids can be cruel.

I knew I should have been more careful with those razor blades.
And that is when I understood that kids can be cruel.
Because I was a kid
And the cruelty left me scarred.

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