A few weeks ago, I got a big compliment from one of our family members - a 12 year old, that I was a "cool" adult. She said that because of an observation I had made the previous day. I had said "Adults always under-estimate the pressure kids feel at school or even school bus". The "school bus" was not added unintentionally. I have had the school bus experience and was actually reflecting on that more than saying something to empathize with a wanna-be teenager. But I am perfectly happy with the compliment.
As usual I have a story to narrate. After completing my first standard (or grade if you will), my parents switched me to a new school. And I was to travel to school by the school bus. Every school that has a bus has a school bus gang. Even if they belong to different age groups, kids who've been "bus students" stick up for one another and a new entrant is always viewed with suspicion/contempt. The new ones are not given seats, which would be reserved by way of placing school bag, lunch bag etc for people who'd never come to occupy. New school and new bus-gang kind of scared me. But since it was my brother's first school experience, I often pretended to be very confident.
A few months later, the hole in my right ear had to be fixed. It wasn't at the center as is the norm. So after a small medical procedure, I had a center hole and thus two holes in my ear. When my mother tried to put earring, she couldn't do it the usual way as the new hole was too tiny. So she put the earring from behind and screwed it tight from the front. So my earrings were on the inside while the screws were the ones anyone could see. I thought it was strange and told my parents tat people at school would make fun of me. They came up with a brilliant solution and said "If anyone asks you, tell them this way of wearing it is in fashion". They probably thought they gave me a smart idea and I was too dumb to revolt too.
The next morning school bus arrived, I got in and some annoying kid (who happens to be my father's friend's daughter) noticed my ear and said I was wearing it wrong. Being the kid that does what parents say, I gave the practised reply. She laughed so loud that her laughter invited 10 more kids who laughed along with her without knowing what had happened. After she stopped laughing, she mustered enough energy to tell the crowd what I had told. And the laughter was even louder. Even though the time between our boarding and the bus reaching school was less than half hour, it seemed very very long. And the taunting continued promptly that evening when the bus left school. It continued for many weeks and months. And I was desperately hoping that another kid would do or say something silly that would make these kids forget what I had said. I don't exactly remember how long it continued but I think that was my first experience of "peer pressure". And to date I hold my parents responsible for not preparing me well (in other words making me a fool) and their reaction has been the same in all these years - they laugh.
I definitely know about the pressure, dear niece. Maybe I am a cool adult.:-)