Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mean people suck.

My junior year locker was across from the Career Center, just inside the shady hall of the Library Quad.  I didn't use it much but that day I needed to switch books for some project.  I leaned my knee into the blue-grey wall of lockers so I could balance my backpack on top of it.  Leaning and reaching, I spun the dial.

I tried not to look at the couple sucking face just inches to my right.  Their gazes were locked; they didn't look much like they'd want anything to do with me.  The proximity of my locker with hers forced us into each other's space, though, so I hurried to zip up my Jansport and move on before they made any babies.

Just as I walked away I heard "yeah.  Heather... she's a whore."

I recounted that story today as I talked to a student who's being bullied.  We talked about how jerks will always be jerks whether you provoke them or not.  I talked about how words can hurt even if they're untrue.  She talked about how hard it is to be a teenager--and I didn't disagree.

I brought the locker incident up to her because as a kid it stung--badly.  It didn't matter that I was the anti-whore of eleventh grade.  It didn't matter that anyone who would have heard that would have laughed it off as the most ridiculous sentiment ever uttered.  It mattered that she said it, I heard it, and it was mean.

I wished I had the right words.

I struggle also to soothe Addie's hurt when she comes home upset by mean kids.  The other day a fifth grader told her on the playground that her dress was ugly.  Consider the source, I told both Roo and the student.  It gets better, I promise.  But I didn't feel like there was much I could tell either of them to make the hurt go away.

And I know it does get better.  I know that the most awful thing about bullying is being trapped and unable to leave.    As long as we're in school, we're stuck.  The great thing about life beyond high school is freedom of choice, particularly the choice to leave or to stand up for yourself without having to see the other person again ad infinitum.

I just wish that mean people would knock it off.  Being a kid is hard enough.

1 comment:

  1. It's wonderful that you're willing to unearth those bad experiences to touch those that look up to you and rely on you. It doesn't matter how jealous a kid is or whatever it is that drives them to say those horrible things. It's not okay to say them.