I haven't blogged in a long time. The whole craze has sort of died and I never loved it anyway. I just knew, that as a writer, I was supposed to have a blog. So I did.
But, I've realized in the last few months, that my blog has been my best method of journal-keeping ever. And I have a thing I learned this year that I don't ever want to forget. It's an important thing. And possibly a thing that might help anyone that happens to know anyone else in the entire world. Which is everybody.
This story is about a girl I know.
She's a real, actual living girl. This is not made up. This is an honest-to-goodness story—not a story 'based' on a story. Every one of these events happened and were heart-wrenchingly real.
This is an underdog story, which, if you know me, you know is my favorite kind.
She was a nice girl. That had always been the 'great' thing people said about her. "She is so sweet." "Oh, she is so nice. The nicest." And everyone wished their kid were nicer, like her. So helpful, so happy, so kind.
And then The girl hit middle school. And her niceness was walked on, spat on, slapped at. She was a doormat. Teachers were too busy to notice the quiet one who never caused problems. And her peers saw her quiet, studiousness as something boring and not worth their time. They wanted to be loud, noticed. Popular. But the girl didn't care about that. She just wanted to be happy again.
And the girl cried. She asked her parents every single day to pull her out and homeschool her. She'd do anything. Bargains were offered and rejected. More tears were cried. But the parents knew that homeschooling for the sake of avoiding life was not the right thing to do. So the girl suffered through the year and hated every minute of it.
The next year, her parents just knew, would be better.
But it wasn't. It was worse. No matter what they tried—a new dog, a vacation, a new toy. None of it made any difference. Because something was going on. Something the girl hadn't told her parents or anyone else.
She had a bully. The bully was as loyal, diligent and thorough as any friend she'd ever known. Every day the bully would tear her down a little piece at a time. "You're ugly. You're stupid. You're crazy." He'd whisper in her ear. She tried not to listen, but he was so subtle, she didn't realize what he was. And the more he said, the more she believed him.
The girl's mother noticed that things were not getting better. In fact, they were much, much worse. The girl spent hours alone in her room, sleeping, watching tv. The once explorer had become a hermit. It weighed on the mother all day, every day.
What had happened to the girl? Where had her kind, sweet, beautiful, happy daughter gone? The mother prayed and pleaded with the girl. They went to the doctor, a counselor, and the guidance counselor at the school. Possibly something was wrong with the girl. Perhaps she needed 'special accommodations.'
They tested and found out that she was normal. Very anxious, but bright. The guidance counselor and the mom didn't know what else to do.
And then the truth came out. One day on the way to school The girl told her mom, "I can't go. I can't go today." The mom could tell she meant it. So the mom pulled out of the parent drop off lane and said, "Tell me the truth. What is going on? Is someone bullying you?"
The girl broke down, finally admitting that some boys were being mean to her.
The mom was devastated but hopeful. At least she knew what they were dealing with.
The mother took immediate action. She'd watched The girl tread water for long enough. The girl's muscles were weak and she couldn't do it much longer. So the mom said, "That's it. We're taking care of this today. Now."
The girl said she didn't want her to. She knew it would just make things worse. The mother told her she wouldn't let that happen and she meant it. This was the beginning of the end. No more treading water, barely keeping her chin up. Together they walked into the school.
Long story short--it took a few months, but once the mother knew what she was fighting, she could help The girl. Her counselor, the guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal and all her teachers had the girl's back. The bully was talked to. Seats were switched.
Only it wasn't. The bully would not let go of his 'project' so easily. The kind girl toughened up a bit, lifted her chin and tried to put her armor on tighter. She was stronger now. She put herself out there and made friends. Good ones. She knew what the bully was and that every word he spewed was filthy, dark sewage.
But the bully still wouldn't quiet.
So finally one night, The girl told her mother, "If I go to school tomorrow, I'm going to hit the bully."
The mother said, "If you need to hit him, then hit him. We'll go out for ice cream later." She didn't say this because she believed in hitting. But the mother had learned that having a daughter that is kind, nice and happy was actually harmful, if she was not also confident and strong. The fact that The girl was even thinking of sticking up for herself in this way, made the mother's heart soar. The girl was finally finding her worth.
The next morning, the mother dropped The girl off at school.
The bully and The girl ended up next to each other at lunch. And he started in. "You're fat. You're ugly. You're stupid," he hissed.
The girl was a tea kettle ready to whistle.
But now the girl had friends. People were watching this interchange. People who cared about the girl. "Don't let him talk to you like that," they said.
The girl had finally had enough. She picked up her apple and chucked it at the side of the the bully's head. It bounced off his rubber skull and she caught it with ease. The table was silent and then explosive. They couldn't believe the kind girl had just done that.
Neither could the bully. And he couldn't let her get away with it. One last hiss. "You're clinically insane."
The girl made a decision in that second. His words would no longer hold her back. She would set herself free. Her hand balled up tight, she pulled her arm back and "BAM," her fist connected with the side of his head.
She didn't wait for a reaction. She picked up her belongings and raced for the office and the telephone. "Mom," she cried into the receiver. "You have to come get me."
"Is everything okay."
"I did it. I hit him. I'm going to be in so much trouble."
When the mother got there, the office staff and principal were trying to figure out why The kind girl was crying. No adults had seen, and none of the students dared tell. The mother whisked her away with a promise that she would call the principal later.
The girl, so kind and good was she, felt like she'd done the wrong thing. That's how ingrained kindness and goodness was in her. She worried that even though her mother had told her it was okay if she hit this bully, that she didn't really mean it.
As the story unfolded, the mother's heart exploded with joy. She shoved her fists to the ceiling and "Wahoo'ed' as loud as she could. The mother called the principal. She told him he could suspend The girl if he wanted but that she was proud of The girl. (He did not suspend her.)
All the lies the bully had branded the girl with...were gone.
The mom realized that—The girl, as kind and good as she may be—was better with a side of backbone.
The mother pulled her kind, sweet, beautiful, spitfire girl into a tight hug, kissed her beautiful, dimpled cheek...
And The girl laughed.