I bought a flannel yesterday. Also. An AC/DC crop tank. So. I guess I’m taking back the 90’s and I guess that’s ok with me. The last time I sported a flannel was 1996: I was a brand new 6th grader and roughly weighed 70lbs soaking wet. (i.e. defenseless). I was wearing a newly purchased flannel because it was popular and I hoped would make me seem cool. I had to stay late in Mrs. Biafore’s math class to finish a particularly anxiety-inducing test, and forgot to ask for a hall pass. I hadn’t quite figured out the whole middle school way of life yet. Filled with the fear of God over potentially being late to my next class, I sprinted out the door. The halls were empty, so I knew that the final late bell was about to ring. My backpack was stuffed with every textbook I owned because I also hadn’t yet mastered the art of lockers. I bolted in the direction of three kids who were shuffling late to class. I must have looked exactly like a bull’s eye, because in a split second, one of the boys stuck his foot out to trip me and I went soaring. My backpack was so heavy that it pinned my arms and I landed on the cement face-first.
They laughed. I had ripped my favorite pair of jeans, and also my new flannel. I felt really badly because my mom had just bought them for me. Also, it hurt. My knee. My face. Once I stood, I realized I had cut my mouth open, broken a tooth and was bleeding everywhere. But nothing compared to how damaged my soul felt. I laugh a bit now, but I literally to this day still have a fear of falling forward and busting my teeth when running to and from the train. And the chip in my tooth is still visible when I look in a mirror.
So. I’m going to wear this flannel today to take back the 90’s and to stand up against bullying and to say to those 3 kids, I hope tripping me in the hall that day was a turning point for you to start deciding to do the right thing. When you saw me find my footing and stand up, trying to hold back tears, split open face, I hope it inspired you to choose compassion over hate. To choose kindness over meanness. To be the one that helps the scared 6th grader get to her class on time, instead of harming her. To be the change you want to see.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Let’s stand up to make a difference.
Stand up against bullying.