Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

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Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Law of Kindness

Note to Readers: I am breaking my own rule this time. This post is not lovely. I am writing it because I read this morning about something that should never happen. A young girl who took her own life because of cyber-bullying. It makes me so sad and so angry to hear of these things...and it brings back painful memories.

I'm a quiet person. I was a quiet little girl. So changing schools in grade 7 was torture.

It was 1968. I was about to turn 13 years old. That summer was spent mostly in the fenced back yard of our new house, listening to kids laughing and playing next door. I was too shy to go over; even though Jerry, the boy who lived there, according to my mom was the same age as me. I never argued with her when she told me to run over and meet Jerry; I just rolled my eyes and went back to my room. Go next door and meet a BOY? Was she crazy? So instead I spent lonely hours listening to Beatles records and playing with my dog, Honey.

That fall school started. It was rough. Not only was it new, but the kids were different than in my old school. Back in elementary school I had a best friend, Pam. Two peas in a pod, were we. Tall, gangly, a little geeky, kinda silly, but always together. We were 'brains.' Back in elementary, good students were usually well liked.

That wasn't the case in my new middle school. The popular girls were pretty, going steady, smoking, drinking, and even, it was rumored, 'doing it.' I wasn't even 100% sure what 'doing it' meant. But I suspected it was wrong.

From the first day I could see that it was all wrong...me, that is. My saddle shoes and pretty pink wool jumper that mom sewed so painstakingly made me feel dowdy next to Leona R's plaid mini-skirt with matching knee socks and cloggy shoes. Leona was cute and tough and saucy. I sat by her in home room. She had a pretty, new outfit every day...and she told me without any shame that she shoplifted them from the Bon Marche with her older sisters. And Leona had a boyfriend in high school. He used to pick her up after school in his panel van. Her parents protested but she still snuck around behind their backs with Calvin. (Ironically, I read in the paper this week that Leona's sister was booked in jail for shoplifting.)

One Thursday Leona told me that she was going to spend the whole weekend with Calvin. She'd told her parents that she was sleeping over with me, even though I never invited her. She figured since I was new that her folks wouldn't know mine so they wouldn't be able to call and check up on her. I told Leona that was lying.

I dunno what she did that weekend. I just know that come Monday morning back at school, when I went into the bathroom before orchestra practice, my name was written all over the mirrors in crimson lipstick. It said "Debbie M is a BI***, a WH***, and a SL**.  I was so humiliated! I ran out of the bathroom in tears, not knowing what to do. I was too naive to even put it together that Leona was trying to get revenge on me. I couldn't understand why anyone would say those things about me. No one even really knew me yet. I kept to myself all that day, and ran home ahead of all of the other kids...too embarassed to face them.

In the days that followed I noticed that whenever I approached any other girls they would turn their backs on me, whispering and laughing. The boys would look me up and down and guffaw. I still didn't understand. I kept more and more to myself...trying to be invisible. I didn't tell anyone; not even my parents. They wouldn't understand.

 I started looking critically at myself in the mirror. Was I too fat, too plain? Was it that my nose was a little big? Why did everyone hate me? I turned to magazines for answers. Ingenue and Teen Hop said I should smile more. Be outgoing. Wear a little makeup and get with the groove. So I did. Every morning when I left the house I'd carefully roll up my knee-length skirts to make them mini's. I stole mom's Cover-girl mascara and lipstick and put it on after she left for work; careful to wipe it off before I came home from school. And when I saw those kids huddled in groups by their lockers scoffing at me, I held my head up and smiled at them as I passed by;  and even said 'hello'. It worked a little. Some of the geekier girls started to at least say 'hello' back. But nobody ever ate lunch with me, or talked to me in class, or walked home from school with me. Months went by.

One day Leona and her friends were being very cruel to me. We were standing outside our classroom, waiting for Mrs. Bloom to arrive when they started calling me all sorts of awful names and laughing. They didn't notice Mrs. Bloom walking up right behind them as they were heckling me. Mrs. Bloom frowned and said nothing; she just opened the door and told us all to go in and take our seats. A little while later, Mrs. Bloom sent me on an errand to the office. I was down there for awhile. When I returned to the classroom, something was different. The kids were acting a little strange. That afternoon, lots of kids were saying 'hello' back to me when I walked past. I'm now certain that Mrs. Bloom lectured that class about kindness; and perhaps called a few parents! The next day some girls asked me to sit with them at lunch. And slowly, ever so slowly, I began making a few friends. I never befriended Leona or her crowd. I found some girls who like me, had just transferred into the school and we formed our own little group. And I was OK after that. Sort of.

But honestly, after 40 years I must say that I still feel nervous around new people. And I don't trust women very much; especially loud and agressive ones. And sometimes I still wonder if people are saying things behind my back. Yes I've done some counseling and am fine; but I still remember...

So today when I read about this sad, beautiful young girl who took her own life because of cruel cyber-bullying, I wept. I wept for her, for me, and for every person who's ever been the victim of that kind of hatred.

Luckily for me, there was a Mrs. Bloom. And years after that I met Jesus. I've found acceptance in Him, in my family, my friends and my work. My life is good; actually it's great!

That unfortunate girl could have had a great life too. If only...

If only people had been kind. That's all she needed. Kindness. It's not so hard to be kind. It's not costly. It's actually easy. Wouldn't it be great if Kindness were a law? If parents taught their children to be kind and actually modeled it in their day to day lives? How different this world would be! What if the world was full of Mrs. Blooms? 

Proverbs 31 describes a noteable woman this way:  "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."

Be kind today. Make your children be kind. You could save somebody's life.


joanne said...

heaven holds a special place for the Mrs. Blooms' of this world. Your post is so very touching and sad to me that I could be telling a very similar story, in fact, I have been working on a post about my childhood but I haven't yet got the courage to hit publish. Best wishes to you Deb, you always have the right thing to say...

Linda O'Connell said...

I worked in a middle school and I can assure you there were but a handful of Mrs. Blooms...and they did make a difference. Your post is a nice reminder to be kind.

Karin said...

Very deeply touching story! We never know what is going on in the hearts of others.


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