~ What is the biggest lesson life has taught you? – Vanessa Carnevale’s Mindful Prompt #2
I wouldn’t be able to count the number of times in my childhood where someone pointed at me and laughed at something or other. Bullies followed me throughout my elementary years, making fun of me for things I didn’t understand. Maybe it was because I believed in God, or because I was terrible at sports, or because I had to sit out when in gym class we were doing a dance class.
The result was always the same; I’d hang my head and believe that whatever they said about me must be true. In grade five someone passed gas during a test, and with muffled chuckles and snickers, all eyes turned to me as Kyla whispered “Margaret did it.” I remember my face burning with shame. I wanted to be anywhere but in that classroom with that bully. I know I hadn’t done it, but who was going to believe me when I denied it. She was one of the popular kids, if she said it, it had to be true.
I wasn’t good at standing up for myself, but I also wasn’t good at being mean, so it was just my luck when Kyla and I were paired up at recess for Peer Mediators. We got to wear reflector vests and feel important on the playground. We even had a clipboard that had “problem solving” sheets attached to them. Seriously, we were trusted to solve problems that other children were having. If it was awful, and we didn’t have a solution we had to report kids to teachers, or worse, the Office.
At the end of recess, we got treated to hot chocolate before returning to class. It wasn’t the first time we were paired up, and it wasn’t the last. Somehow, we managed to work together and even get along, so long as I made an effort to get to know her. I don’t think I ever tried so hard to be somebody’s friend. I failed, but at least she stopped bullying me. She didn’t need to anymore, by the end of grade five there was another bully roaming the halls
Dimitri was a worse bully than Kyla was. I think he had a crush on me, but that’s just me looking back on it. This guy would torment me. He seemed to follow me to every school I went to; from grade five at Prince Philip, to grade six at Dalewood, then grade seven at Gordon Price, and then high school at Westdale. I won’t lie when I say this kid could make me cry. He could say anything to anybody, and I lost any friends I might have had the courage to make. I’m not kidding, I broke down in front of the cutest teacher a sixth grader could ever have met, and sobbed about how mean Dimitri was being to me.
Maybe he came from a rough background. I wasn’t sure what the story was, but I’d had enough of the torment. I found the solution to this problem in a verse in the Bible that says “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27f.
I’m not saying the change was overnight, but gradually with each act of kindness, each pencil that I gave Dimitri when he forgot his, began to thaw that bitterness I had towards him. Maybe it didn’t make him less of a bully, but something in me changed. Something in me broke the power he had over me.
I learned later on in life that he did come from a broken home. This is the biggest lesson life has taught me. Nobody is a bully for fun. Somewhere in that person’s life, someone made them believe that picking on those who are less fortunate will make you feel better. Maybe it does, but it doesn’t change their situation. Their life still sucks, but at least it’s not the only one.
This is why I am nice to everyone. This is why I get along, with almost anyone I meet. Life has taught me that behind every grump, behind every bad temper, is a hurting person, who wants to be heard.