The other day I texted a friend of mine from high school, since I hadn’t spoken to her before thanksgiving. Her response was look at my Facebook page. I took a look and saw an incredible story I wanted to share. Lucy (not her real name) and I met in day camp when we were 8 or 9 years old – and then went to middle school and high school together. We’ve kept in touch through college and now in our adult lives. She was at my wedding earlier this year and I am so happy she could be there.
Lucy’s post read:
It’s not every day that you get 2 dozen roses from your childhood bully! Took 30 years for an apology but well worth it. Remember words can create or destroy choose them wisely. I forgive you.
I was amazed by this. I think this is incredible for so many reasons. I asked Lucy how they got in touch and she told me he reached out to her over Facebook. When she realized who he was she called him out on what he did. The bullying started during our camp days, when we went to different schools, so I never knew about this until now. I am impressed that my friend had the strength to confront her bully head on. I’m not sure I would have the nerve to. I am also impressed that this bully (who is someone I do not know, so I know very little about him) has grown up into an adult who has taken responsibility for his actions, apologized, and is trying to make amends. Lucy stated that this gesture has given her part of her childhood back.
The outpouring of support she received over Facebook, and privately has been incredible, and other stories of kids being bullied (and some people you would never have expected that they would be the victim of bullying) have come out over the last few days. Some of our classmates that are now teachers are using this story for their students to let them know how much words hurt and how it’s never too late to apologize for hurting someone. Some of our classmates told her they wish they knew because they would have stood up for her.
Clearly, this is not my story, but the reason I am telling it (with Lucy’s approval) is for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s never too late to try and right a wrong and get closure. Secondly, it is a good learning opportunity for parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, etc. to teach their kids about standing up for their friends, and treating everyone with kindness and respect. The final reason I’m telling this story is so that a bullied kid can know how they were viewed by one of their classmates.
This is what I thought of Lucy when we were kids. Please remember this starts with the eyes of an eight year old so maybe some of these things don’t seem significant but at that age they were our whole world. Lucy always seemed to be friends with everyone in our camp group. She was the best swimmer in our group – we never had instructional swim together because she was always levels ahead of me. She was my buddy in free swim the first time I ever went in the scary deep swimming pool. Maybe I figured I had less of a chance of drowning with her. Who knows. She was the best dressed, most fashionable kid you’d ever meet. And she styled herself. Her sense of style was something I’ve watched grow and evolve where she now has a fantastic career in the fashion industry. She had (still has) a great sense of humor and a great laugh. She was an excellent photographer. She was overweight when we were kids (which is why she was picked on) but I never knew it bothered her. Her family always seemed so supportive of her and they were always doing these great family dinners and outings. They are some of the nicest people I’ve known. She was also very brave. So when we were older I was surprised that even though she had a lot of nice friends and all of these great things going for her, she was bullied. She never seemed to me someone that was your “typical” victim – the withdrawn or socially awkward type where it “made sense.” I had no idea she had suffered all these years and even though it made her stronger, it has also hurt her to this day.
This is the story of why Lucy was one of the bravest people I knew as a kid. She may not remember it but she has a fantastic memory for details (one that I do not share at all) but this is one thing I remember specifically. Our first or second summer of camp I remember a boy our age got stung by a bee. He cried, freaked out, everything you’d expect from an eight or nine year old when they were stung by a bee. From that point on, I was terrified of bees and what would happen if I were stung. Later that summer, Lucy was stung by a bee. She calmly pulled out the stinger and told our counselor she got stung, and they gave her ice and that was the end of it. Non-event as far as she was concerned. She made me think if it ever happened to me it would be okay. When I was twelve and got stung by a bee, I still cried but maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.
Maybe this story is a turning point in bullying. If every parent that sees this story teaches their kids about why bullying has such a long-term impact on people, and maybe there will be a few less bullies in the world and a few more kids brave enough to stand up to bullying. Thank you Lucy for sharing your story and for being my friend.