Kids can be cruel when you’re growing up with food allergies, seasonal allergies, glasses, and a bone density deficiency that makes you quite the shrimpy kid.
Kids can also be amazing when you teach them that kindness towards a kid like that is the honorable and correct way to behave.
I almost exclusively experienced the latter.
Of course kids teased me for my four eyes, for my sneezing, and for my size. But never did they tease me about my food allergies. I credit that to two things:
- The parents of these amazing kids I grew up with were exceptionally compassionate and kind toward my parents. They either understood or sympathized with the difficulties of raising a kid like me and raised their kids with that same compassion.
- I grew up with the most incredible kids that you can possibly imagine.
Those kids have grown up to be professional athletes, lawyers, teachers, members of our Air Force, world travelers, entrepreneurs, and everything in between.
I grew up in the corner house of a cul de sac that housed 22 other kids in my general age bracket. We had water wars, basketball games, bicycle races, kickball tournaments, and the list goes on. All before the street lights came on and we went in for dinner.
My best friend lived in that cul de sac. She was one of my biggest shields growing up and was an amazing kid. She was one of five, and her parents and siblings always protected me. She and her older sister were quite intimidating, and messing with me meant messing with them.
My older sister’s best friend lived in that cul de sac. She was one of three, and though I didn’t run with her crowd, she taught me about compassion and true friendship. She taught me that standing up for myself wasn’t always easy, but was always necessary. She taught me that by standing up for herself.
My unknowing body guard lived in that cul de sac. He was always the biggest kid in his class, until he got to college and trimmed down. He was popular, an athlete, intelligent, and always protecting me by simply befriending me.
There was one other girl that protected me from the horrors of bullying. She didn’t live in my cul de sac, but she did live a few blocks away. She was and is incredible. She was the security blanket I always needed, whether I knew it or not. She always stood up for me – no matter the cost.
It was this network that I had – these amazing kids and their friends – that kept me safe all of those elementary, middle and high school years. It was the trust my parents placed in me that transcended into the trust I placed in them.
Looking back, it’s quite a huge responsibility to place on a kid. That if I was unable to protect myself, these amazing kids would do it for me.
They never failed.