It has been a while since I have written, but after something I experienced last night, I felt compelled to write. This has been on my mind all day today and I need to share my thoughts.
Last night, Bill and I went to Walmart in our town to file our taxes. Typically, I do our taxes, but wanted to get them done since we bought a new home in 2015. I have this thing about things being done right the first time, and the thought of the IRS coming after me really frightens me. Anyway.
We dropped our documents off and talked to the guy for a bit, answering basic questions. He said that we could leave and come back in about thirty minutes if we wanted, to give him time to input all of the information. We left and decided to walk around Walmart for a bit. If you know me, you know I have a bladder the size of a young child. I literally pee about every thirty minutes, so naturally, I had to pee.
I went to the ladies’ room and as I was washing my hands, I was standing next to a woman and her two small children; a baby boy and a little girl. The lady asked her daughter, “Did anyone at school make fun of your clothes today?” The little girl responded with, “No, not today.” Ouch. That made me so sad. I looked down at the little girl, about five or six years old, and said, “I love your clothes! In fact, I wish they made clothes like yours for people my size.” Her eyes lit up and she smiled at me and said, “Thank you!” I smiled at her, responded to her gratitude, then smiled and winked at her mom and she smiled back at me. The mom said to her daughter, something to the effect of, “see you have nothing to worry about…”. I don’t know exactly what she said because I was on my way out. I heard the mom shout behind me, “Thank you so much for that!” I replied with a simple you’re welcome and went on my way.
As we all probably recognize, Walmart’s restrooms do not have exterior doors on them; you just walk out of the little hallway and you’re in the store. It is easy to overhear small bits of conversations, especially near the exit. When I walked out, Bill said, “What was that all about?” I told him about the question the little girl was asked and told him my response. No big deal. But I could hardly tell him the entire conversation because I got teary-eyed. I told him I was having a hard time telling him because it made me want to cry so bad. He could tell that it impacted me. We then had a short conversation about the situation and how kids can be so cruel to other kids. It broke my heart that at such a young age that little girl has to worry about whether or not other kids are making fun of her attire.
Why is it that kids feel like it is acceptable to make fun of other kids? Maybe the clothes that little girl wears are all her parents can afford. I know kids do not think on that level, but at the same time, kids are not born with judgmental personalities. It is a learned behavior. Therefore somewhere, sometime, kids hear their parents or other adult-figures talking bad about certain things. They are impressionable and pick up any kind of behavior, especially if it comes from someone they spend a lot of time with, or someone they look up to.
Why did I feel so sympathetic towards this little girl? I don’t know her any better than I know the next kid I see with their parent in the ladies’ room at Walmart, or anywhere else. Maybe I felt sympathetic because I was made fun of as an adolescent. I did not get made fun of for my clothing, but I did get made fun of for something else I have absolutely no control over. My forehead. I have spent my life paranoid about my forehead because some little bastard in junior high and high school made fun of me for it; like there was something I could do about the size of it. Now, many, many years later, I like to think about what I could have (and probably should have) told that punk to hurt his feelings the way he hurt mine on a near daily basis. But I didn’t. And I didn’t because I wasn’t raised that way. Neither of my parents were bullies; nor did they ever teach me or my sister that it was acceptable to make fun of someone for something they couldn’t (or could-for that matter) control.
Parents, we have got to teach our children better than this. We have to show our littles that it is never acceptable to make fun of or bully other children, regardless of how small or minor the situation may be. Just because it is not seemingly a big deal to us doesn’t mean it is not a big deal to someone else.