Horse club

The girl attended a private Catholic school. When she was in the third grade, there was an older girl, a fourth grader, who organized a kind of horse club for play at recess. Several third grade girls, and maybe some fourth grade girls, would line up and take turns performing jumps. Each girl in turn would pretend to be a horse, jumping over a branch with one leg in front and one behind, then galloping away while the next girl took her turn. The playground was a rolling field dotted by play structures including a merry-go-round and swing set. The horse girls played in a more forested, quiet corner. The leader of the group was rather intimidating, with short brown hair and solidly built. She ran the activities, directing the girls what to do. As a prize for performing their jumps, she awarded each girl the opportunity to insert a finger tip to take a swipe of her coveted flavored lip gloss, housed in a metal tin, to put on their own lips. The girl felt happy to be part of the group, to have been chosen to participate, and to receive the lip gloss.

Some time later, though, she came to feel that the leader was not just intimidating but bossy and belittling. There had been some kind of offense, so that one day she came home crying hot tears, telling her mother about what had transpired at recess. She decided she did not want to be part of the group anymore. She had at home two small pompoms that had been given to her as part of her membership in the club. They had been homemade by someone, constructed simply out of light blue and pink yarn. She told her mother that she wanted to burn the pompoms, perhaps using matches or on the kitchen stove. It would cement her rejection of the mean girl and her club; it would show that she didn't respect them any longer and that she had ended their hold on her permanently. Her mother told her, though, that burning the pompoms was not necessary. The girl felt chastened by this; rarely had she expressed such passionate anger, and she had felt full of righteous, hurt anger now. After being told not to burn the pompoms, she felt embarrassed to think that her outrage had seemed overly dramatic or somehow excessive.