Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sticks and stones.....

There's a story from my childhood that I've found myself telling over and over as of late. Its painful memory surfaced after my 4 year old and I had an encounter with a witless bully. I recounted the incident in a short Facebook update:
April 6th, 2011
Wanted to string up a couple second graders lastnight. I took Ezra out to ride his bike and these three little punks walk up right next to him and tell him he's a baby for riding with the training wheels on. Seriously?! They're bullying kids right in front of their parents now? I told them not to worry; He would probably be riding without training wheels before any of them stopped wetting the bed. #FutureFelons

In the days to follow I had shared the details of this little incident with several friends and family members. I was reminded several times that I have no power over who picks on him when I'm not around. It reminded me of a time when I was 7 years old, and kept a pretty serious secret from my parents....
As most of my friends know, I was the second of 6 children (7, including my kid-brother Luke). My first sister wasn't even born until I was 8, so my childhood playmates at this time included a brother, another brother, another brother, well.....you see where this is going. I was a tomboy by most accounts. I dressed like my brothers, acted like them (and even tried to pee like them a couple times, but I won't go into that). One completely girlie thing that I reserved for myself was my Barbie dolls. I LOVED them. I didn't have very many; we didn't have the money growing up that a lot of other kids had, so I treasured my Barbie dolls like they were precious. At this particular time I had just received an AMAZING gift from my grandmother: A rolling Barbie suitcase!! I could NOT have been more thrilled. 
I would load up my Barbie dolls, their dresses, hairbrushes, and shoes and wheel them down the street to my best friends house nearly every day. Rebecca, was that friend. 
She was my age, much girlier than myself; probably prettier too. She didn't wear boy clothes like me, and her mother used to put her in beauty pageants. She went to school just like all the other kids, while I stayed home, as one of 4 (at the time) that my mom homeschooled. Of course that meant that Rebecca had a lot of other friends, and aside from the kids I grew up with in Church, (and my aforementioned brothers) I didn't really have many at all. 

On this day I received a phone call from Rebecca, she asked that I come down to play, "and make sure to bring your Barbie suitcase", she said. I asked permission from my mom, who was going to be running errands for a while, and she agreed. I hurriedly collected my things and ran out the door and down the street. When I reached her house I went up to the front door as usual and rang the bell. She answered, opening the big green wooden door, but just stood there, staring at me through the glass of the second. 
"Go around to the back." She told me. "Why?" I asked, confused. "Because, I said to." She replied. 
I was eager to get this show on the road, so I complied and wheeled my suitcase down the little path to her privacy gate. As I came inside the fence and around to the back door I was surprised to see 4 other girls blocking my way.
 One girl grabbed my wrist as another shoved me from the back and I fell on the ground. Completely stunned I turned and watched them unzip my Barbie suitcase, dumping every last bit of its contents into a big mud hole. I tried to stand up and go after my things, but as soon as I was near the hole, another girl gave me a big shove and I fell in too. At this point Rebecca had come out into the yard; I looked at her, begging her with my eyes to run and get help, thinking that she had no idea what was going on either, until I saw the look on her face, as she stared back at me with a smirk. This was a setup
All of a sudden I felt a knocking against the side of my head; then against my back, my neck, the top of my head, my face. What was happening? I sat in bewilderment as this group of young girls threw rocks, sticks, and big green walnuts (from the trees in our neighborhood) at me. I'm sure I was crying, but I can't remember any sounds coming from my mouth as I sat there with my eyes closed, willing it to stop. All I remember was the sounds these objects made against my head and body; And the pain. 
But all of a sudden, "HEY!!" I uncovered my eyes and there he was; My big brother, Jason. 
"What are you doing!?" he shouted at them, as he began grabbing at me and my belongings, covered in mud and bleeding from my eye. The girls, having been caught, fled into the house. My brother proceeded to collect every single item he could find that belonged to me, placing each muddy remnant into my Barbie suitcase before making that long walk home down the street with us both in tow. I don't remember him saying anything to me at all. But he had saved me, and silence couldn't have felt more comforting. My mind began to race as we walked. Between feelings of hurt and betrayal, came those of fear and loneliness. What would happen when my mom found out about this? She already didn't like Rebecca's parents very much. She would NEVER let me play with her again if she found out that this happened! It's sad to think that after this little girl had set me up for destruction, I still wanted her to be my friend. I was scared to lose her. As soon as we got home, Jason helped me get cleaned up. New clothes, a wet washcloth on my scrapes and the cut on my eye, and soapy water up and down my legs and arms. I made him promise he wouldn't tell mom and dad. He agreed not to. 

Until recently, my mom knew nothing of this incident. Afterall, I was a tomboy; Constantly covered in scrapes and bruises, always getting my clothes dirty, grass stained, and muddy. It was just another day in the life.
As I started writing this today, I wondered wether or not my brother would remember it. I texted him to find out. At first he didn't really recall it, but after I gave him a few of the details it started to surface in his mind. I suppose that sometimes, a heroic act means more to the saved than it does to the savior.  I'm not sure what would've happened that day if the abuse had gone on much longer. I was helpless and hopeless; not even fighting back; just waiting for the conclusion. 
Anyone who knows me NOW knows that I'm a fighter. I never ever stand by and watch someone being attacked, wether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. At times I still have trouble standing up for myself, but not for others. Realizing this has helped me to understand that there will be times that Ezra goes through some horrible things that I can't protect him from. I know that going through things like this (there were plenty more where this came from) as a child helped to build and mold me into the compassionate, loving person that I am. 
They also taught me a lot about relationships; The trust that was destroyed in my friendship with Rebecca was instantly restored through the courageous act of compassion by my brother. Funny though, since this was the SAME brother who just weeks earlier had shot me in the butt with a BB gun, and who tortured me on countless occasions (sometimes with assistance from brothers 2 and 3, and sometimes solo). I guess it goes back to that sibling rule of: "I can hurt, tease, torture my sister...BUT YOU CAN'T!!" and I'm okay with that...... 

Jason and Me, going fishing. =)

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