I sleep really well at night, every night, except for the night I found out about what happened to Carson Crimeni at the Walnut Grove skate park.
So instead of sleeping I wrote this, as if writing to my own children.
School was hard, or more specifically, the time and place I was expected to spend my most vulnerable growing years with a limited subset of human beings, was hard.
Even with all the necessary material items, I found it difficult to relate to the ‘cool kids’, who in my school, also happened to be the biggest jerks.
They revelled in their display of false strength and the attention it got them. Being cool to them meant the ability to demand what they wanted and get it, even if that involved hurting someone.
Some of my experiences include, walking up to a crowd of classmates to find the skinny asthmatic boy trying to catch his breath as the bigger boys pushed him around, while the girls stood by and laughed. I told them to “stop” or I was going to
They laughed, continued, and I promptly ran to get the teacher.
After their parents were contacted, they called me tattletale (nowadays its snitch) and exiled me for the rest of the year, but it was eventually forgotten.
Another boy who I knew came from an abusive home would always be in detention for things like filling the entire chalkboard with swear words and carving the Twisted Sister symbol (age clue) into the palm of his hand with his pencil sharpener blade.
Understandably the other kids didn’t go near him, but I also understood the pain and sadness that emanated from him.
To the cool kids horror, I would spend some of my recesses and lunches with him, sharing my food and companionship.
To my surprise, he was funny and could actually smile. I was called a weirdo, but they eventually forgot.
The quiet new girl in school was also the smallest in our class. One sunny day during lunch hour, I walked around the corner to find her huddled up against the wall while two of the cool boys threw rocks at her.
I proceeded to run at them, arms flailing, scratching, and jackhammer kicking their shins in.
They ran away in shock, I must have looked like a rabid wild animal, but I didn’t care how I looked to them. They were jerks and the new girl turned out to be quite nice, as we became fast friends.
In the coatroom, the cool girls and I were giddy, talking about the upcoming Valentine dance. In walked the chubby boy who looked like he was about to collapse into a puddle of nervous sweat. He approached me and eventually uttered, “would you please go to the dance with me?” The other girls shrieked insults at him and laughed, urging me to join them while he stood there patiently waiting for a reply.
I knew in that moment, if I joined them, they would own me. I would just be another one of their mindless minions, expected to follow and obey. Nobody owned me, so I turned to him and said, “yes.”
With the greatest smile he ran lightning fast to tell the other boys who looked just as shocked as the girls.
The Valentine dance came, he was dressed up really nice, he paid for my ticket and held my hand as we entered the decorated gym where we promptly separated, him to the boys, me to the girls. Of course some adults had to start the dancing to get everyone off the walls and the girls shot dirty looks, calling me crazy for going with him, but that to was forgotten.
That was just elementary school, high school was worse.
The kids were bigger and meaner than ever.
Only a few of us had the courage to speak up when we saw something really wrong.
Socially, school was hard.
I certainly didn’t make it any easier on myself, but life will always have challenges and only the most difficult ones are the most rewarding, depending on how you face it.
As you enter into a new school year, face the challenge head on.
Make it popular and “cool” to choose the good choices.
This is an important responsibility, especially to those who know they have influence over others.
We will all have a moment in our lives where we face a choice, to neglect our better instincts and follow or nurture our independence and be free. Take it from someone who has stepped up despite the judgment, achieved truly meaningful success and has absolutely no regrets.
Treat yourself with respect, kindness, and honesty first, only then it is possible to treat others this way.
Never mistaken kindness for weakness. Know that everyday is a new chance, and you are much more resilient than you know. The difficult moments are only temporary, to be forgotten by those who don’t care, but cherished by those that do.
And just around the corner there will be someone who loves and needs you.
Noni Cicuto, Langley