The Youth Performance Company is staging a play called Mean about how mean a kid's *friends* can be. Bullying, cruelty — all that crap. Remember being in grade school and/or junior high? You may have your own memories of that hell.
I am going to share with you two of mine.
I grew up in southern Minnesota in a very, very small town — population 585. There were 25 kids in my class, so the groups and cliques were necessarily very small, too. In the spring of seventh grade, one day our girls' phy ed class went for a walk in the country instead of playing volleyball or whatever else we used to do. During that hour-long walk, certain of my *friends* decided that they would not talk to me. Ever.
It took a little while before I caught on, but by the next day I knew. I was being ostracized, and it was happening for — as far as I could tell — no reason. As far as I knew, I had not hurt anyone or been mean to anyone or done anything to warrant the silent treatment. It is possible that I had done something — FSM knows I was not the nicest person on the planet — but I never knew what it was and no one ever explained.
Eventually, days later, my *friends* began to speak to me if I spoke to them directly, but never again did I feel like I had any actual friends in that school. I spent two more hellish years there, then my family moved 250 miles away and I had the benefit of a fresh start. The move was related to my father's work and had nothing to do with my experience. I never told my parents or anyone else about it until years and years later. High school in the new school was fine, but I still have the tiny scar from the actions of my *friends.*
I was on the other side, too. I still remember the day in second grade when a couple other girls and I persisted in tickling and physically tormenting another girl for far too long during recess. I don't remember if she cried, but she certainly had reason to. We were bullying her. Mary, wherever you are, I have regretted that day for years.
The Youth Performance Theatre is giving two free tickets to a performance of this play to anyone who blogs about it, and that is what I am doing. I probably will not be able to attend a performance so I will try to find someone else who can.
Go see the show. Encourage your friends to go. Help foster an atmosphere of civility in your world. Our children are depending on you.