A conversation happened today that brought back one of my not-so-pleasant memories from middle school. Surprisingly enough, I went to a Christian school from 1st grade all the way through 7th. The middle school was on a very large (and actually very pretty) part of the campus. The gym however was a bit of a jaunt from the main buildings and down a pretty sizable hill. One day, all the girls in my class and I were walking down to the gym for PE or some event of some sort. As we were walking down, another group of girls from the grade above us were coming up the hill. One of our group said something to one of the older girls in passing that she didn’t like. Instead of responding back snarkily or just ignoring it, she made a beeline for me and proceeded to shove me over. So hard, I fell straight to the ground. I reacted immediately, turning around from where I sat on the cement and called her an asshole.
We ended up having to meet with the Assistant Principal. I don’t remember if we got called in because she complained about me or because my parents complained…all that’s lost in the black hole of my memory vault. What I do remember is sitting next to her as she cried to him and my having to apologize for calling her a “bad word.” Swearing is frowned upon in Christian school apparently.
This memory sticks really sticks out in my mind…always has. But in the past it’s been because I’m still just so shocked that someone would do that not just to another human being, but to a girl that she knew had a disability. Today though, the memory sticks out for me in a whole new way. It’s one of the most poignant times in my life when I stood up for myself. Was calling her an asshole the best approach? Probably not. I applaud my use of a gender-neutral insult however and to be honest, I would do it again the same way today. I try in life to use the calm, Buddhist approach to things and not let people get the best of me. To turn the other cheek like I mentioned in a previous post. But I would applaud anyone, not just someone with a disability, for firing back at someone who did something so cruel. She was an asshole for pushing me over like that, plain and simple. I could have gotten really hurt. I’m sure she’s grown up now and is a fine person. The middle school years are awkward for everyone and can really bring out the worst in kids (I once called a kid “fatso” and he proceeded to call me “cripple” so I was no peach either). So I probably didn’t handle it in the most diplomatic way possible but you know what I did? Something I don’t do so often anymore. I stood up for myself. You have to pick your battles in life and this is one I actually chose to fight and I have zero regrets about it. It also reinforces the sheer joy I had when I got to leave that school and get home-schooled by my awesome mom for 8th grade instead.
Sometimes life gives you lemons and sometimes it gives you assholes…Either way, you figure out a way to make lemonade.