My oldest son starts school this week, and I’m worried. The older he gets the more I worry, funnily enough. I remember sixth grade as a miserable year. My best friend had betrayed me the year before, and her betrayal stung me so deeply, I couldn’t help but be scarred by it. Although we’d been friends since fourth grade, she decided I wasn’t cool because my family wasn’t rich and I wore a lot of hand-me-downs. So she made friends with another little girl and they spent fifth grade alternately ignoring me and talking about me.
It still stings.
I saw my son going through some of that last year. He doesn’t have the same problems I did. He’s smart and good-looking and a little quiet until you get to know him, though, and evidently that’s enough. He lost some friends last year, rediscovered some old ones and made some new ones. It was painful for me to watch remembering what I went through.
So I want to address this one to the kids. This is your chance to discover the world doesn’t revolve around you. Those ties you made with a friend might be easy for you to sever, but that doesn’t mean the other person won’t feel it. And those words which are so easy to utter will hurt someone who cares about you. This is your chance to decide you are going to make the world better in whatever way you can. Maybe that quiet kid isn’t as reclusive as you thought. Maybe she’s shy but smart and fun. Maybe that overweight kid you torture because he’s slow has a great sense of humor. Maybe the smart kid with his nose in a book loves to help and would be willing to show you how to do that tough math problem on your homework.
Don’t think that because you’re young you don’t have any power. Your world is what you make it. You can start now erasing prejudice and cruelty from it.
NOTE: WINTER SOLSTICE is tomorrow!