This as the poem that was on the NPR "Writer's Almanac" this morning:
Sins of the Father
by W.D. Ehrhart
Today my child came home from school in tears.
A classmate taunted her about her clothes,
and the other kids joined in, enough of them
to make her feel as if the fault was hers,
as if she can't fit in no matter what.
A decent child, lovely, bright, considerate.
It breaks my heart. It makes me want someone
to pay. It makes me think—O Christ, it makes
me think of things I haven't thought about
in years. How we nicknamed Barbara Hoffman
"Barn," walked behind her through the halls and mooed
like cows. We kept this up for years, and not
for any reason I could tell you now
or even then except that it was fun.
Or seemed like fun. The nights that Barbara
must have cried herself to sleep, the days
she must have dreaded getting up for school.
Or Suzanne Heider. We called her "Spider."
And we were certain Gareth Schultz was queer
and let him know it. Now there's nothing I
can do but stand outside my daughter's door
listening to her cry herself to sleep.
It brings back a lot of memories of childhood cruelty: my own to other children, and that inflicted on me by others. (I was a nice, good-hearted little girl. Why, then, did I write such a nasty note once to a 4th grade classmate named Ruthie? )
And is it just my imagination, or is it mostly girls who do this? Sure, boys go out and scuffle and punch each other. but it is little girls who are devious and often cruel. I wonder why....