Monday, September 10, 2007

Come Sit By Me

So, I went out to dinner with my friends last Thursday. Yes, those friends. I have a group of friends called the First Thursday group and we go out to dinner on, well, the first Thursday of every month. I organized it because I love them all and I think women friends are incredibly important and it's just so hard to stay in touch if you don't make that extra effort. They make me laugh and they fill my heart every time I am with them.

A couple of them were teasing each other about sitting next to me. One of the last times we got together, I had emailed Debbie to sit next to me because I wanted to catch up. Apparently, Vicki didn't know this and she and Debbie got into a mild jostling match to see who was going to sit next to me. They BOTH wanted to sit next to me. They really have no idea how much this means to me. That they want to sit next to me. That they like me. They only know the woman. They never knew the girl.

That girl was painfully, painfully shy. That girl moved to a new state, a new town so often that she didn't have time to make friends. And, even if she had time, she was too shy to do so. She moved to a new town and state one time and the kids in the neighborhood already had a gang. They had marked their friendship territory and it did not include the girl. She tried hard. She tried to be friendly. But they just laughed at her. One time, two of the other girls slapped their hands on the back of her shirt and rubbed them around and told her there was a grasshopper back there and they had killed it and smeared the guts on her shirt. And she believed them. And she sobbed. Another kid who was not quite so cruel took her home and, on the front step, leaned forward and hissed "There is NOTHING THERE. Why do you let them do that to you?"

When the school bus picked them up, it was often so full that some kids had to stand in the aisle. She always had to stand. The other kids would scooch over for their friends. Nobody scooched for her. And when she stood, small, cold, cruel hands always reached maliciously from behind and pushed her kneesocks down to her ankles. If she pulled them up, they pushed them back down. So, she learned to leave them puddled around her ankles. And sometimes she leaned forward, letting her long hair cover her face, and tears fell on the black floor of the bus.

They only know the woman. They never knew the girl. And the woman is grateful that they want to go out to dinner with her. Laugh with her. Tease her. Hug her. And quarrel to sit by her.

And if you think bullying is no big deal. I was 12 when this happened. I'm 54. I cried when I wrote this.


charing said...

I could cry for you too. If only those bullies could see you now.

LizzyBee said...

I've heard the grasshopper story before (of course I have!..) but something was different seeing you write about it. I kinda... teared up a bit. (sniff)
Glad to see you've gotten past being shy, and have absolutely no problem telling people like it is, now.
Like to see you write about how you got past being shy-did it happen immediately or slowly in college at the sorority?...

Lucy's Mom said...

I used to think it was only me who had such a rough childhood for issues beyond my control. Clearly you had your issues as well. I never knew. I like to think it's because I had already left home, but, in truth, I might not have known if I had been there. Being bullied is not something kids readily talk about at the time it's happening. I'm so sorry you were bullied and picked on. So was I. It can really make childhood and adolescence hell. I think many more children are bullied than we are ever aware of. Children and teens can be so unbelievably cruel. I'm very glad you grew up to be Mrs.Who, the beautiful, wonderful, confident woman with many friends. But the scars of childhood stay with us forever. You will never forget and neither will I. No high school reunions for me, thanks just the same.

Fancy said...

Your blog has probably brought back a sad memory for many of us. Some kids and unfortunately some adults can be so unkind. But somehow we have all survived that awkward moment in time and hopefully have become a much kinder, stronger and thoughtful adult.
You are a very loving and forgiving woman and all of those "life experiences" that you have had has made you the wonderful fun loving person that you are today.

When you tell one of the children in your class to "be nice" you truly know how important that is.

And the next time that we go out to dinner together I want to sit beside you.