Plaid jumper, white collar, perfect little ponytail, with a Powerpuff Girls backpack, walking into school with her older, smarter brother. First one in the room, take out the lunch that was packed, go sit down. Don’t speak to anyone. Not sure what they’ll do. Everyone is a threat.
But are they? Everyone comes in and they start talking to each other, they look like they’re having fun. But they’re poking each other, their shirts are untucked and that girl doesn’t look like she brushed her hair this morning. That’s not right. That’s not good.
Where are the nice kids? Oh, there they are, sitting quietly, reading books, talking to the teacher. It’d be best to go over there. They’d be proud if the little girl was smart. They’d be proud if the the little girl behaved herself. Maybe she’d be enough.
The little girl plays with the right people, she makes sure she spells every word right on the weekly spelling quizzes. She practices her multiplication every night. She must be the first to know them. They’d be proud if she was the first, wouldn’t they?
She messed up the elevens for multiplications.
“Those are the easiest, how’d you mess those up?”
Because, the little girl thinks, I’m not smart. I’m never going to be enough. But I’m going to try harder next time, I’ve got to be perfect. Then I’ll be enough.
The little girl goes home. She doesn’t dare say she didn’t pass the elevens, that’s too embarrassing. She made such a stupid mistake, she would’ve done better if she was more like her brother. She would’ve been better if she were her brother.
She goes to school the next day with wet eyes. But she knows to tell everyone she just yawned or she’s very tired, the storm kept her up last night. She tells them the thunder kept her up. They don’t ask, but she tells the good kids, the kids who got through the elevens yesterday.
Little do they know, the little girl thinks, the thunder was me screaming at myself in my head, replaying that stupid mistake over and over, and the rain they heard at their house, with their perfect families, was me crying until I fell asleep because I can’t figure out how I’ll ever be good enough.
Oh, little girl. You don’t know. In a few years, it won’t matter that you forgot that 11 multiplied by 12 is 121. You’ll have a calculator on your phone, everything will be alright.
But, little girl, it does matter that you cried. It matters because in several years, you’re still wondering why you mess up so often and fail everyone. Little girl, you still exist, don’t you? You’re still here.
I know, because I am you. I am you, little girl.