I’ve been corresponding with Ruby’s teachers about the so-called bullying. One of her teachers, an insightful sort, asked Ruby to write her a letter and express how she was feeling. Here, sans spelling mistakes, is that letter:
Dear Mrs. B,
I am feeling unwelcomed at school because I’m being bumped and pushed around and I have pets so my cat wakes me up like 5:00 in the morning so that makes me tired, cranky, unsmart, unintelligent and makes it feel like the day is taking forever. So people just rush through me and it feels like I’m invisible. Every day it feels like this so I’m not so happy. I don’t get so much attention every day.
Your best student,
The kindly Mrs. B. read the letter to me over the phone yesterday afternoon. I must confess I did laugh outright when she finished. Ruby’s angst is real but her expressions – what Mrs. B. calls “her narrative voice” – are priceless.
“I will reach out to her every day,” the kindly Mrs. B. offered in closing.
Taking the letter’s advice, I confined the feline alarm clock Chloe to the downstairs last night. I carried the muppet mass downstairs, purring in my arms, and placed her outside the pocket door. She looked stunned. But then she always looks like that.
Today was Children’s Day at Ruby’s school. No school work! They did crafts. They devoured cupcakes and juice. They saw a live show. They knocked pinatas around in the covered area and played games out on the adjacent field. I got to show up for a little while.
“Mom!” Ruby gasped when she saw me. She ran over to me and grabbed me. She wouldn’t let me go. I was only able to stay for an hour, helping the kids make bracelets, necklaces or keychains with beads and gimp (anybody remember that substance?). But my making the time to enter her world thrilled her. The kids seemed to like it, too.
As I tied one of the girls’ necklaces off: “You look like Ruby,” she said, shyly.
This always surprises me. It shouldn’t, but it does.
“You think so?” I asked, twisting the slippery plastic around my finger. “I think she looks more like her dad.”
My comrade looked stumped. “Ruby has a dad?”
Uh. Yeah. Guess now’s not the time for the “everybody has a mom and a dad” life lesson.
It got me thinking, Ruby’s letter. How many people feel “unwelcomed” all around us? Maybe they take it out on us by cutting us off in traffic. Maybe they shoot staples at us, trying to get our attention. Maybe they talk back when they should be silent, or simply ignore us all together. What are we doing about it? How can we help? I aim to change that, as much as I can. What would Jesus do?