I’m out of town again, this time visiting Universal Studios Orlando with my 11-year-old son for the opening of the new Transformers ride. Sorry our posting has been so spotty, but this parenting and paid work stuff still comes first — even though I’m reading, reading, reading. Here’s a book I’d like to read this fall.
“Until It Hurts to Stop” by Jennifer R. Hubbard
What happens to victims of abuse and bullying after their attackers have moved on?
Maggie Camden was the school outcast in seventh grade. Four years have passed since then, and her tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, has even left town. Yet Maggie feels like nothing has changed. She keeps trying to shove away her feelings for her hiking partner, Nick, certain no boy could ever find her attractive when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s a loser, she’s unworthy of love. The only time Maggie feels better is when she and Nick are hiking up in the mountains. But when Raleigh suddenly moves back into town, even the mountains no longer feel safe. . . .
Today I have the book “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” on my mind, and I have to say that books about kids who are bullied really strike a chord in me. I believe that anyone who says they never had an experience being bullied or ridiculed as a kid or a teen is lying (or perhaps was a bully themselves, and even then, it’s doubtful). I was definitely bullied. I was sweet and smart but also gullible and a teacher’s pet. There was one kid whose name I’ve managed to block out (because I can remember so much about my junior high experience except for his name) who teased and tormented me. The hilarious thing, looking back, is that he looked like Nelson from “The Simpsons,” not some blonde Adonis who genetics had favored with a sense of invincibility.
Anyhow, this kid was in the gifted program with me. He was cruel, made fun of me for my physical appearance and for being a Christian … said things like “How can you believe in God; God wouldn’t make anyone so ugly” or “How can someone with straight A-s be so stupid” and more — every day. One day, he was convinced that I had told on him. He and a few friends were caught smoking pot before school. Someone turned them in, and he just assumed it was me. I had to be the only person in the entire school to do it, even though I came to school in a carpool of kids who could act as my witnesses, and I never had to cross the back field to walk to school — WHEN THE DRIVER LEFT US DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL.
But logic didn’t work with this guy. He told me was going to kill me, beat me up, make me pay. I went to the bathroom and cried. I tried to talk to the other boys (who may have smoked pot but weren’t bullies) who had gotten in trouble. Nothing worked. I went back to the bathroom and cried. I begged the school counselor to set the boys straight (how could she? If she said I didn’t do it, why would they have believed her?). I went back to the bathroom and cried some more… and heard a knock on my stall.
“Sandie, I’m sorry. I told on those guys” the familiar voice informed me. I was crushed. I knew this girl, and she was so sweet. I appreciated her telling me, but what could she do. I told her not to reveal herself — why bother at that point. And the counselor and vice principal told that guy that if anything happened to me, he would face charges a lot more serious than doing drugs near school property.
There’s more (there’s always more when it comes to bullies), but I read this books to remember that as the campaign says, “It gets better.” But for that moment in time, I felt fear and confusion and was worried every time I went to school and had to face that guy. That’s why I want to read this book. It helps!
Thanks Breaking the Spine, for hosting Waiting On Wednesday.