Sticks and stones

In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, Natalie Whipple recently blogged about a hurtful incident from her childhood. It’s a brave, honest, and insightful post — as Natalie’s usually are — and I connected with it deeply. Unfortunately, what I identified with was not Natalie’s perspective, but that of her young bullies.

As I hope you all know, I’m generally a nice person, but when I was in second grade, I did a very not-nice thing. I told one of my best friends that I hated her.

Did I mean it? Of course not. Like I said, she was one of my best friends. So then why did I say such an awful thing? Honestly… it was a stupid 7-year-old whim. That’s it.

Upon seeing my friend crying, our teacher asked what was wrong. Upon learning what had happened, our teacher pulled me out of class. Upon realizing the hurt I’d caused, I said I was sorry.

Did I mean it? With all of my dumb, ashamed little heart.

My friend accepted my apology, but things were — understandably — never quite the same between us. Over the next few years we drifted, but I’m happy to say that she became a stronger person, and she made new friends who were probably better to her than I had been. Meanwhile, I learned two really important things:

1. Be kind, because there are no do-overs in life.
2. Step in and speak up when you see someone hurting someone else.

I give our teacher a lot of credit for not blowing the incident off, for taking me aside to explain what I’d done wrong and how I could/should make it right. Maybe I would have apologized anyway; but maybe not. Too many times, we look the other way and hope for the best, but that won’t do a thing to help either the bullied or the bullies.

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5 Comments

  1. This is a great post, Kristan. Thank you for your honesty! I keep thinking about how rough kids have it these days with the internet. It’s so much easier and more passive aggressive to bully someone online than it is in person. Either way, I hope the bullying situation in the US gets under control soon!

  2. Kristan – this is one of my favorite posts. It immediately made me think of my own childhood and I wanted to try to go think of an incident from my childhood and write about it. So imagine my surprise when in the fleeting moments it took me to read your introduction, I immediately thought of a situation much like yours. I wasn’t the bullied one; I had a moment – maybe a few, actually – in which I was a mean girl. I was always immediately ashamed of myself and don’t think that’s the kind of person I really am. But it happened. Those fleeting moments that we quickly regret. Thankfully those moments don’t define us.

  3. Gosh I hate it when things get broken and can’t be put back together again. I’ve been in a few of those situations, on both sides of it. Just reading about yours makes me feel a little sick.

  4. Jon

    I guess there generally aren’t really any do-overs in life, but I like to believe there will be one day. Something like that is hard to repair, though.

    But please don’t beat yourself up about something you did when you were eight.

  5. Margot-
    Yeah, I seriously can’t imagine how awful bullying must be with the technology now. People are willing to say and do such terrible things when they think they’re hidden behind the veil of a screen.

    Juliann-
    “Thankfully those moments don’t define us.” – At least they don’t if we don’t let them. For me this was an aberration, a mistake, and one that I tried never to make again.

    Sonje-
    Yeah, my mom has a great analogy about relationships being like glass: you can only drop them so many times before they’re in too many pieces to fix. Sorry to make you feel sick, though. :/

    Jon-
    Oh, no worries. Honestly, this incident doesn’t haunt me or anything, because I know it’s not representative of me. I only thought of it and wanted to share because of Natalie’s post, and the importance of bullying awareness and prevention.

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