There is nothing worse than teenage drama. I remember it all too well, from my own days in high school. Now I am older, wiser, past all of that...yet I see a great kid, one of my sons friends, going through teenage drama of their own, and it breaks my heart.
In school, I was kind of middle of the road. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't not popular...you know, kind of in the "middle". I was a tennis and choir "geek". I had my circle of friends, some more popular than others. My sophomore year, I enjoyed 14.25 minutes of fame when I was crowned Canaltown Queen, but I'm certain many of the "mean girls" at my school wondered how I was able to pull off such a feat....as a matter of fact, one or two even mentioned it to me. (Sigh) Overall, I was able to escape my teenage years relatively unscathed...except for "that one time".
I won't go into detail about "that one time," but it scarred me for life. The girl who hurt me was someone I had previously admired (clearly, I was not a great judge of character). We were supposedly friends. Her words cut into me like a hot knife, her accusations unfounded and cruel. She hung out with "mean girls", so I guess she had to play the part, but her words...a few simple words, were enough to wound me deeply. Twenty some odd years later, I can still hear every word from her mouth, as if it were yesterday.
Since then, I've dealt with a few "mean people", both in college, and more recently, as an adult. Even as a Mom, I've dealt with a few petty, gossip-loving people, who relish making up lies and hurting others. I've grown a thick skin, so most of the time, those "mean people" do not affect me, but every now and then, deep down inside, I hurt again. I always find it interesting how some people are better than others at showing one face to some, and another face to others. Don't they realize that the "ugliness" eventually shines through for everyone to see? I try to hold firm to the belief of "what goes around, comes around". I'm still waiting for a few to get their comeuppance...any day now, please! Anyway...
My son lucked out in the great friends department; he is friends with kids who see him not just on the outside, but on the inside too. They are awesome kids, with awesome values, and humongous hearts. They love him for who he is, and he loves them for who they are. And I love all of them! One of his friends, however, is going through some serious teenage drama right now. This great kid, who made a tiny teenage mistake (seriously, so very tiny in the whole scheme of life) is being harassed by people who were supposed to be his friends. Some even got together and made a list, to tell him how horrible a person he is, and how much they hate him. First of all, can you believe a group of high school juniors could act so immature and petty? You'd think they would be past all of that by now. I mean, come on....one more year and you're graduating from high school. Grow up! Secondly, hate? Hate is such a strong word. Was it really necessary to use that word? The only reason I see to use that word is to be extremely mean, and to break someones spirit. How very cruel.
When I hear the details of what these teenagers did, who are supposed to be exhibiting fine character, it makes me mad. Some of them I used to admire and think of as "good kids". When I hear of these students, who are supposed to be "leaders" of their school, and who act one way around administration, and another way around their peers, it makes me sick to my stomach. I find it ironic that some of those who are harassing him have also felt the sting of harassment themselves, yet wield it so easily at others. I also find it ironic that so many others, who are supposed to have good character, are sitting on the sidelines, watching all of this take place, without rushing in to defend or heal him.
To those teenage bullies, I offer these words...
You are cruel, and your arrogance will be your undoing. Character is character all the time, not just when others are watching. If you were a good person, you would treat everyone around you with kindness, all the time, not just those who can increase your popularity, or get you a date to the prom. You would uphold the honor of leadership you've been given, not just in front of administration, but all the time. Ten years from now, it will not matter who was most popular, or who went with whom to the prom. It will matter how you act toward others, and how grateful you were for the gifts of friendship you were given. It will matter that you were a decent person at all times, not just to get into Harvard, or gain favor with administrators. It will matter that you defended those who were being harmed, or wrapped your arms around them, to let them know that they do matter. As a parent, I see your behavior, and I find it disgusting.
Your words and your actions have hurt. Perhaps your bitterness has gone unseen by "the powers that be", but it has not gone unseen. You are small-minded and small-hearted. You, and your little group of friends, have scarred someone, and your ugliness will eventually show through. Maybe not today or next year, but some day. In the big, bad world, you will not be able to hide behind Daddy's wallet or Mommy's influence. People will see you for who you really are. I pity you for the day it happens, because you will be ashamed of your behavior.
I know this boy, and I know his spirit is strong. Maybe you've hurt this boy for today, but he will not be broken. He will go on to do great and wonderful things in his life, because he is a great and wonderful person. He will go on to be the doctor he wants to be, sharing his kind heart with others around him. You might have wounded him, but you have not changed his character, nor tarnished his golden heart. You are not the end all/be all of human acceptance, nor are you the guardian of judgement, beyond your tiny little world of high school. Years from now, he will look back at you with pity, at the small-minded person you were. You may think you have won, but in reality you've lost so much. Your credibility. Your honor. Your dignity. Those are difficult things to get back.
I am so grateful that my son has such great friends, and has not had to endure what his friend has. I know my sons friends are not like these bullies, and I know they would never hurt my son. I hope my sons friends know how much they are loved. I hope his friend, who is going through this difficult teenage drama, knows how much he is loved too.