Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I used to get made fun of on the schoolbus.

I know, I know.

Get over it. It was years ago.

And I HAVE gotten over it, for the most part, but I haven't forgotten it or the boys who were the ring leaders. I can tell you their first and last names and their faces are very clear in my mind.

I haven't seen these boys since high school and they probably would have no idea who I was if they saw me in the street. I remember when I would see them in the hallways at school. Sometimes I would stare in one direction and casually (and very forcefully) kick them as hard as I could in the shin. (I have never admitted that to anybody before right now. In fact...I think I had completely forgotten about it.) It was my only way of getting back at them for the daily torment on the bus, which finally ended when they were called into the principal's office.

They used to make fun of my hair. They would scream insults about my hair as I was leaving the bus and had my back turned to them. There were three boys that led all of this, and many more chanted along with them, blindly following them, which reminds me so much of Judy Blume's book Blubber. So many kids are just flat-out hurtful, cruel and can't think for themselves.

(When I was younger, I didn't quite know what to do with all of this hair, but today, it's my signature trait and I wouldn't want it any other way. But, those boys thought it was awful enough to make fun of it daily for our entire eighth grade year.)

I would get-off of the bus and cry. Every day. Self-confidence still isn't my forte, and things like that didn't help. I know they were just being kids and that they had no idea how much they were hurting and embarrassing me.

At my last youth group meeting, we had the kids talk about things they've done that they've regretted. I was talking to the young man who volunteers with me and he said that he used to make fun of kids on the schoolbus. I've been working with him for years and consider him a friend...he's a nice guy and is becoming a father next month and I'm sure he'll make a great one.

BUT...he used to make fun of kids on the schoolbus!

And, fifteen years or so later, he still feels bad about it.

I can't tell you how much I appreciated knowing that those horrible boys from the schoolbus...the ones that used to make me cry...just might have grown into very nice guys who volunteer with church youth groups and STILL carry regret for how mean they were.

I wonder if those boys out there still feel bad about making fun of that girl with the wild hair.

(By the way, as I was writing this, I wondered what became of them. I Googled them. None of them are fabulous off-Broadway playwrights with naturally curly hair. I win!)

Diana Rissetto


Net said...

You definitely get the last laugh on that one!

I don't remember if you've posted in the "I ate all your Halloween candy" thread or not - but this is the kind of thing parents intentionally upsetting their kids and being mean teaches. It teaches kids that they can be mean to those who they see as less powerful/smaller than they are - and if they're in a pack, that means the people who aren't. It's never ok to teach people to be unkind, and it's thrilling to know that guy you work with feels bad for being a jerk back then now that he knows better!

Lisa said...

I remember very vividly April Fools Day in 8th grade, as I walked to my seat, I passed a boy who considered himself "popular" (I suppose others did too, but I didn't like to give him that status) said in what seemed to be a genuine tone "wow, have you lost weight?" I was surprised he was saying something to me so I said "What?" to which he responded "April Fools!" and busted out laughing. It was that day that confirmed in my head that I didn't *think* I was fat (I mean, all girls do, right?), I *was* fat, and that's the thing that other people noticed about me enough to comment about, even jokingly. I can relive that moment in my head and feel everything I felt that day, it even brings tears to my eyes. There were many "popular" people I didn't quite know how to get along with in high school that I look forward to seeing and chatting with later in life (ie, this year, at my 10 year reunion), but he is not one of them. That single instance above all other interactions with him wrote him off in my head as a mean person. Not a person who did something mean or a kid who didn't think twice before joking about something like that... a mean person. No matter what I do to convince myself that he could have changed or grown up or just not thought about what he was saying, I cannot convince myself that he is a mean person and I do not ever want to see or hear from him. Some wounds don't seem to heal :/