I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Especially after hearing my daughter sing a song with the lyrics "I wish I could be like the cool kids". I tried to explain to her and the other kids that they ARE cool kids. That there isn't anything different between them and who everyone considers the "cool kids". I was met with a lot of blank stares and "Okay mom."
I was teased a lot in school. A lot. I switched out of a school because it was so bad. I was always ashamed to tell anyone that, because for the longest time, I still blamed myself. I blamed the fact that we were low-income, I blamed the fact that my mom cut my hair, and I blamed the fact that I didn't have the name brand clothes and shoes that everyone else did. Now, I realize that I was just a victim of good ol' fashioned bullies. More specifically, 'Mean Girls'. No matter what school, what state, or what age, I was their target. And I still don't quite understand why either. Regardless, I did my best to power through. In high school, I actually met their judgements and remarks by giving them more ammo. I became as weird as I could...and by that time, I was going to school in Utah so it wasn't that hard. I became 'goth' (or basically, today's 'emo'), colored my hair all the "odd" colors like pink and purple and black, I got my navel and my tongue pierced at 16 and my first tattoo at 17. My mom went for all this because she knew that I was finally coming to terms with who I was rather than slinking away into a shell of a person that was scared to deal with society. I loved her for that. This brings me to my point....
There was a profound day for me during my junior year of high school, and it literally took me at least 7 years to finally see it as being as heavy hitting as it is...
I had a test in gym class. It was smack dab in the middle of the day and it consisted of running for an hour straight. No stopping. Piece of cake at the time... Just set your pace, and zone out. I ran for an hour all by myself while everyone else had buddies and groups. But, that's nothing unusual, and by then I was used to it. The hour was up before I knew it, so I was off to my next class: English. I hated English. The teacher was really young, and it was very apparent that she was 'popular' when she was in high school. She was basically reliving her youth by teaching us. I didn't know anyone in that class, so I kept to myself. By the time that class was up, I had been sitting for an hour. It was on the second story of our school. I had to walk down stairs to get to my next class. My muscles were mad at me because we didn't have time to stretch or cool down after gym class, and by this time I had been sitting down for an hour letting them get good and stiff. Needless to say, I got about as far as the second step and I went down. Granted, I only went down on my shins and only about 3 more steps downwards, but it was scary and apparently HILARIOUS to the millions of students in that stairwell. That was the moment that I hear a girl say "It's not funny! Amanda, are you alright??" I looked up, and this girl that I knew OF, but not that well was bent over the railing and looking at me with genuine concern asking me if I was alright. I said 'yes' and went on my way. I didn't stop and think for a moment what that would actually mean to me down the road.
High school eventually came to an end and I slowly became comfortable in my own skin. My 10-year high school reunion came and went a few years ago and I contemplated going for about 10 minutes and in those 10 minutes, I thought to myself how pointless it would be to drive 12 hours to go see people who made my life and living hell, who wouldn't even recognize me, and who I would have absolutely nothing to say to. Also, I wouldn't even know anyone's names, because I never cared to commit them to memory. Except one.
Other than the few friends that I had, that is the only full name that I remember of anyone from school. The one person who not only showed me real kindness, but who put her own reputation on the line to stick up for me.
The one person that showed me genuine kindness was the one person that I subconsciously remembered for almost 15 years. That tells you something about how important it is to be kind. And especially how important it is to teach our children to be kind to others. You never know what a simple, small act of kindness can mean to someone. Even if it is subconscious.