It's just come out that my cousin is being bullied. And I am not at all surprised. Emily is nine years old and the loveliest, most awkward creature you could ever come across. Both literally and metaphorically, she'll rush head first into everything and anything- you sort of have to tuck your toes away when Emily is about and make sure that you're not wearing any breakable jewellery. Make sure you're wearing clothes that you can dance wildly in and that you are completely rested, not a tiny bit fragile (ie not even mildly hungover) and ready to be a vampire or a witch or... anything that amazing mind can come up with. You also have to be prepared for unadulterated affection and the purest, often misguided, awkwardly expressed but completely beautiful attitude to everything. She's not going to do anything delicately and there's not a chance she's going to do it gracefully, because she has far too much raw passion and energy. Without doubt, the most beautiful person I have ever met.
And so, of course, Emily is being bullied.
Lack of surprise does not take anything from the anger. I wasn't telling you about Emily to make the bullying sound worse or, on the other hand, to make it sound inevitable. Because bullying is bullying and no child deserves that. But, ohhh. And when MG was telling me about it, I was sitting waiting to be told that she was being called fat. And I wasn't waiting for long. Not because Emily is fat (she's completely and utterly normal, healthy little girl size. Skinny in the way kids are, but not even close to under or over weight), but because little girls know how to attack each other and they all 'know' that fat is bad. How the hell they know this, how the hell I knew this, how the hell WE knew this, at that age, is a question I couldn't even begin to answer, it's insane. But by the time we turn ten, it's something we all seem to know.
Sometimes I get so scared, I feel like I'm waiting for Emily to get an eating disorder. I've said this to MG many a time, I feel like I'm just sitting and waiting. Waiting for the bones and the cuts and the secrecy- that beautiful mind turned in on itself. It's almost like watching myself and not having a clue how to change it. I know that I'm getting ahead of the whole situation, Emily is NOT me and she's had a very different first 9 years of her life to the first 9 years of mine. But that mind, that beautiful, powerful mind, could do so much- positive or negative- and that's incredible to behold, terrifying.