I was sitting in the play area on the designated parent bench while Camp slid and climbed when I was joined by a little girl. She was very pretty, had this Taylor Swift look going, with cute clothes and incedibly long blonde hair; not the type of girl I would expect to have problems with bullies. She instantly struck up a conversation with me, asking me which monster was mine and telling me about herself since she was too old to play on the playground. She was nine years old and about to start the 4th grade. I asked her if she was excited or nervous for school to start; telling her myself that I always loved the first day of school because you got to wear your cute new clothes and all your school supplies were fresh and new. In the first five minutes of talking to her, she told me that while she loved going to school to learn, she hated going to recess and lunch because all the other kids teased her and were mean to her.
Oh, how my heart broke for this sweet little girl whose name I don't even know.
See, I could relate to her so easily...
It's surprising really how many people have dealt with bullies on some level in their lives, especially during those ever important school years. I personally struggled alot in middle school...those first awkward teen years are a beast...and didn't have many friends. In high school, I can remember days where at lunch I would hang out in the bathroom so that I didn't have to eat lunch alone. I've just never really been a social butterfly. I got along with everyone in school...especially as I got older...but I didn't have many friends; and the friends I did have ended up having different lunch schedules than mine. Some of the best of years of my life were actually very lonely when I look back on them.
So why does this happen? This little girl I met was far from ugly and was dressed nicely. She obviously had no problem talking to people because she jabbered on with me until her mom came to get her to go home. What about me? A pretty average girl with a decent upbringing...not bullied so much as just forgotten.
I wish there was one simple answer; but we all know there isn't. Some people are just mean. Others are abused at home and take it out on their peers. Some raised by other bullies; some jealous of what someone else has. Even I'm guilty of it...I can pick a flaw off the most beautiful woman on the planet just to make myself feel better. Haven't we all at some point, whether we meant to or not, been a bully to someone?
It's okay to admit you have. It's not always intentional. Blake reminds me a lot that some people have no clue they even hurt your feelings until you point it out to them. We're all different, all unique, and all have ways of speaking and acting.
So when this little girl opened up to me about her bully trouble, I was really at a loss as to what to tell her. I wanted to say something that would comfort her...after all, we all know what bullying will do to some of these kids...they go crazy and end up going on rampages that end lives. But what could I say to her, really? I wasn't her mom and I had no clue how her parents were dealing with the issue. Did they even know? And how could I give solace to a nine year old girl who had many years left of school when my own memories of school weren't all happy go lucky?
I still pray for this little girl when she crosses my mind; that she finds her niche in life and that no matter how hurtful other children are, she can still rise above it.
Essentially, that's what I ended up telling her..that I could totally relate to her...people are not always nice...but that in the end, being the bigger person and being happy with who you are is all that matters. I told her to find one or two good friends and keep them close; to find a hobby that made her happy; so that when the world seems too much to handle, you have something or someone to hold onto that will give you a reason to smile.
In this world ya'll, there are going to be bullies no matter how pretty or skinny or smart you are. When it comes down to it, none of us are safe from criticism and alienation.
Stay positive though beautiful, there is someone out there who loves you.