I talked a bit yesterday about my boys being left out of play with the neighbor kids. I’ve done some reading around the blogosphere tonight about bullies.
It all came together to transport me to the corner of the small elementary school in small town Minnesota.
Betsy Anderson stood near the raised flower bed that was shining with freshly placed black dirt suitable for mid spring planting.
She called my name. I wondered at the reason for that but also had a bit of excitement at the fact that she used my name. She never used my name. Always her cacklings of booger face, loser, idiot but never actually my name.
Maybe it’s over. Maybe I finally fit in. Maybe she finally likes me.
She didn’t bother any of my friends. Just me.
I approached her with caution. I approached her with joy.
She waited, perched on the raised flower bed, arms folded and grin from ear to ear.
She wiggled her finger to pull me in closer.
She whispered in my ear you’re stupid.
I was instantly deflated.
No one heard her but me. The entire world may as well have heard her.
I dropped to the ground. She walked away the champion.
It was May. The school year was coming to a close. Betsy would go on to junior high in the fall. I was never more thankful.
A year later I made the big move to junior high as well. I joined the volleyball team.
There she stood.
She welcomed me to the team with open arms. She encouraged me by cheering my good plays and helping me out where I was lacking.
She was my friend.
A year later she moved onto JV. I moved to another city before I could join her.
I don’t know what became of Betsy.
I don’t know what changed in the year between you’re stupid and let me help you.
I do know that in May of my 5th grade year she created a scared, untrusting little girl who has never gone away. That little girl keeps me from speaking up to other kids that don’t do right by my kids.
That little girl needs to remember that Betsy changed. That little girl needs to take a look at the strong woman she grew up to be. That woman fights for what’s right, even when it means sacrifice on her part.
That woman needs to know that the kids that are mean to her boys cannot hurt that little girl. She is an adult and she can defeat those kids. It doesn’t matter what they think.
And that woman can teach her children the importance of being kind and the significance of being mean.
It is the burden she bears if she is truly going to change the world.