Ok, I’m not skinny. (but don’t tell anyone lol) I’m still losing the baby fat. She’s 26 now, but I’m getting there, I swear! Just a few more pounds! Anyway. On to a WAY more serious topic.
I was out this morning, minding my own business. I do some mystery shopping and this morning I had to pick up breakfast. Where I’m at it was like 1 degree outside this morning. I was bundled up like everyone else. It was a super early outing, so I just swept my hair up into a ponytail and put on a little face powder. I had just had a really nice experience and was in quite the good mood heading out the door. Right outside the door, there is a marked pedestrian walkway. Those just to the right at the drive through window have a stop sign and know to look for pedestrians. As I looked to the right and saw her stopped car, I proceeded to step off the curb and enter the marked walkway. She gunned the gas pedal and I came pretty darn close to being hit. I looked at her and gestured to the marked walkway. She opened her window, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Well, you’re so fat and ugly, I can’t believe I didn’t see you!!!”. Wow. Now, some people might come back with a choice epithet in response, but when I looked at her raging, angry face, I said, instead, “Why don’t you come out here and say that to me, face to face, in front of your children?” I didn’t raise my voice, but I did look her in the eye. She folded her arms, stuck her nose up high and screeched, “NO!!!”. While the windows were still down I made a point to say to the “woman” (can’t bring myself to say lady…I just CAN’T!!) “What a wonderful example you are setting for your children”, shook my head and walked off.
The boy was about 13. The girl in the backseat, about 7 or 8 perhaps. While I’m an adult and can “handle” a comment, it really made me think about bullying. What that woman did technically was bullying, but on an adult scale. She tried to publicly shame me because of my appearance. I think a lot of times, when we do something wrong (like this woman did by not paying attention and almost hitting me), our shame and embarrassment at what happened can cause us to react with anger. NO excuses for what this woman did, but that’s what ran through my head. However, the most important thing I walked away thinking was, “Now we know where bullying begins”. This woman, by her very actions this morning, and no doubt many others, has shown her children that bullying people, being hateful and spewing vicious gut reactions are OK, even when the person has done nothing wrong. What kind of young man and young lady is she parenting and shaping towards a successful future with those lessons? Now, I am not the first person to get upset from an incident like this and I am far from the last. Raising a son on the Autism spectrum was and continues to be challenging. The children around him knew about his disability at school. He was surrounded by elementary school classmates who knew my son for his “unique perspective”. It wasn’t until he reached middle school, where anything as slight as a pimple can cause bullying, when the bullying became horrifying. They taped a sign to his back one day that said, “Kick me…I’m a retard” and he didn’t know it was there. The kids would get him to say a curse word on the bus, then report him and get him in trouble. I was fortunate and he had friends who cared, came to me and I was able to get him out and moved to a school where he would be nurtured and from where he is graduating this year. Not all kids get to escape bullying.
Often, when we read disturbing stories in the news or hear of a child who has taken their own life due to bullying, we are left asking, “Why” or “Where did this bully come to be so mean and hateful that they tormented someone to the point they didn’t want to live?” “How can someone be so cruel?” For me, I only had to look into the eyes of that vicious woman spewing hatred at me in front of her children to get one piece of the puzzle snugly in place. I would like to sit here and think that she was embarrassed and apologized to her children and used the moment as a teaching one, to let them know what she did was wrong and that one should never taunt people based on their appearance. Yes, I’d really like to believe that’s what happened. Sadly, the realist in me knows it may not have. Please, teach your children to be kind. Talk to them if they’ve been teased and let them know how their differences make them special. Rise above an incident and don’t give in to what they say. I may not be at my “ideal weight”, but I know that I am a beautiful person on the inside and the outside and that woman has a different kind of “ugly” to work on…on the inside.