I didn’t have anything to write about this week, so I decided to write an open letter to an adult who scarred me when I was a child. You can stop reading if you want to. After all, you might be thinking, “I didn’t come here for this shit.” I totally understand. Happy trails.
To Mr. X:
I spent a good part of my childhood being bullied by other children. I was a little on the chunky side. Not obese, just a little meatier than some of the other girls my age. So, the bullies would use that as one of their weapons. They targeted my weight.
Adults were never particularly kind to me, but I didn’t expect bullying behavior from them. Until that day. I had come across the street to hang out with my friend, who you lived next door to. Your baby was maybe about two at the time, and I was playing with her as you did stuff in the backyard. In the vein of “I got your nose,” I said things like “I’m gonna eat you up,” which was the wrong thing to do. Your child apparently didn’t find this funny at all and began to cry. I brought her to you and explained what had happened. You were annoyed that the baby was crying. You looked at me and said, “Don’t you get enough to eat?”
I immediately turned and ran back home. The humiliation I felt was worse than anything I’d experienced at the hands of other kids. I remember it now like it happened yesterday.
I knew you weren’t the kindest of men. There was talk among the neighbors that your smacked your wife around. But I’d never seen you be mean to any of us kids. And so it took me by surprise when you lashed out at me.
See, you were an adult, and I never expected an adult to do to me what other kids did. I had always thought that adults were beyond that sort of thing, that they refrained from engaging in belittling behavior. At least where children were concerned.
If nothing else, you taught me a lesson. You taught me that adults can’t be trusted. That adults are no more or less capable of compassion toward children than other children. That they’re just as willing to hurt a child out of frustration and resentment as any angry, spoiled, or bitter kid.
I will not say thank you for that, because the scar I carry is an ugly one, and it itches far more than it should all these years later. But I will say that learning this lesson probably kept me from being hurt more, because I never trusted anyone ever again until they proved that they were trustworthy. And that is a code I live by to this day.
Maybe one day, compassion and kindness will be the codes we all live by. Maybe.