When I’m in school, maybe nine years old, a new government program gives all children from elementary to high school little laptops with little functionality, aimed to teach kids about technology. Since they can go on the Internet, most kids use them to play games.

I’m sitting outside my classroom before class with a friend and a classmate, with the latter’s five-year-old sister standing near. I have come to hate this child because every time her kinder class crosses paths with mine, she aims to do her best to annoy me, including trying to steal whatever I am holding or have near me.

We are all playing games on our little laptops, nobody is paying attention to the kid, and I have my laptop bag next to me on the bench. The kid approaches her sister and suddenly snatches my bag and takes off through the courtyard. I put my laptop aside and take off after her, expecting to have to force a bathroom door open or call a teacher, because that’s where she usually runs to. But when we are nearing the restroom doors, the girl trips on a loose tile, falls on her face, and starts crying.

I stop, take my bag, and start walking back, but my classmate’s younger brother intercepts me, followed by his sister.

Brother: “You pushed my sister! What the f*** is wrong with you?!”

Me: “I didn’t even to—”

He punches me right in the mouth and I throw a punch back, but his sister and my friends manage to pull us apart. I walk off holding back tears out of pride, and I spend the rest of the day tasting blood.

When the classes are done, I spot my mom amongst the crowd of parents waiting outside our classroom and run to her, but I am stopped by another woman yanking my arm violently.

Woman: “Who the h*** do you think you are, pushing a little girl?! I should teach you some f****** manners myself, you little monster!”

I am starting to cry because this strange woman is screaming in my face and is still holding my arm. Then, I spot the little demon grinning behind her. Next to her is her brother, glaring at me, and then my classmate, pale as a ghost and trying to step away from her family. In the middle of the third or fourth time the woman calls me some form of the words “monster” or “bully,” another voice, equally as angry, rises above the yells.

Mom: “Excuse me.”

My mom makes her way to us, yanks the woman away from me, and hides me behind her.

Mom: “What gives you the right to touch my daughter?”

Woman: “Your little monster pushed my baby to the ground and then punched my boy in the face! I should call the police on you right now!”

My mom turns to me with a questioning look. By now I am in a complete panic, sobbing and hiccuping, but I am able to tell my side, including the brother punching me first. By the time I finish, the brother is trying to hide behind his older sister, and the sister has started defensively crying. Their mother explodes in expletives and curses, but this time talking to her kids.

Woman: “I did not raise you to steal and lie to me, [Sister]! Why in the h***—”

We didn’t hear the rest of it because my mom pulled me away and out of the school, muttering about crazy people and reassuring me that I’d done nothing wrong. 

The next day, the little demon and her brother stayed as far away from me as possible. My classmate came up to me and apologised many times for her siblings’ actions and for not stopping either of them. She turned out to be one of the sweetest girls I ever met, which still baffles me, having witnessed her mother’s behaviour.