Several weeks ago I introduced you to a former high school classmate who posted an anti-bullying message on her Facebook page in conjunction with the beginning of the school year. She asked her Facebook friends, family, and colleagues to re-post the comments and make their own children and grandchildren aware of those students who might need a friendly smile or a kind word of encouragement as the school year started.
I thought her message was spot-on and repeated it in this column with a request for a more accepting attitude by all of our children as they headed off to begin the school year.
End of story?
No, not quite. Sometimes this job has rewards beyond measure and I am going to share one with you today.
A local mom I didn’t recognize came to the newspaper office one day this past week and introduced herself. She looked pretty young; a single mother, she said, with two children. Her own mother helps her by keeping her kids while she works. There isn’t a lot of money for extras for her family. She and her mom got the children enrolled and bought some essentials, but they did a lot of very careful shopping at garage sales and thrift stores. Sometimes they must do without. If there are promotions in nearby larger cities for free school supplies, warm coats, holiday food and gifts, she and her mother try to take advantage of those events. She said she feels guilty about doing that, but sometimes she has no choice.
She said her mother buys the newspaper so they can keep up on school activities and community events. They clip stories to put on the refrigerator door when students are pictured in the paper. With a laugh she told me her children sometimes comment on their ‘famous’ friends. She also clips stories about students from Peabody and Burns who have done well and gone on to earn awards and promotions in their chosen fields.
And she told me she read my back-to-school column about my high school friend who posted the message on Facebook. She said her children are treated well by the students in their classes, but sometimes there are comments made about their clothes or shoes.
“It’s nothing big,” she said. “Sometimes there just are kids who cannot seem to be anything but mean — maybe it is to make themselves feel more important, I don’t know.
“We talked about your article,” she said. “I told them they should be on the lookout for kids in their classes who might feel lost or confused or just in need of a smile. They both came home and told about making new friends; one with a new student and one with a student he had known before. They felt so good about it — it was great.”
So there you go! This mom turned life on its head and had her own slightly disadvantaged kids on the lookout for someone in need of a friendly face. Instead of letting them dwell on those things they didn’t have, she made them aware of a way to meet the needs of another child.
Sometimes the good guys do win.
— Susan Marshall