She denied it was her handwriting. She denied she drew the picture. She may be telling the truth.
But it landed in my house; she erased the words. Lexi was party to making fun of a classmate.
I didn't freak out or call for an intervention. I know nine year-old girls can be cruel, but it still stung. She has always been kind, kinder than most.
She outed her friend as the one who drew the picture and justified it because this new girl was haughty and terrible. Thought she was better than everybody else.
I reminded her of her first day at her current school, when she transferred the week before Christmas. A small boy had poked her wrist with a pencil each day, because she was new. I found the holes in her white blouse first; she never would give up his name.
She lowered her head. She was ashamed. I never raised my voice, let her see how rattled I had become. I just asked her to consider how being cruel changes who you are, even when someone may deserve it. Could she understand that?
She squirmed in her chair. She tried to understand. I hope it sunk in because it is easy to jump on the mean girl express. I hope my words, my actions, sink in.
Stephanie and I went to see Lars and the Real Girl yesterday. The movie made me uncomfortable and at times, made me laugh as one might expect as the protagonist goes through his life with a anatomically correct, life-size doll.
But what stuck, stayed with me all night: the gentleness, kindness of strangers in the film. Sure, I imagine the fictional characters snickered privately at Lars's expense, but they showed him respect, gave him space to work through his delusion.
I wonder if a Real Boy Lars would be embraced in my town, cradled. Because I imagine we all know people on the fringe who could use a warm smile. Some encouragement.
I sat in my bed, after Greg had nodded off and wept for a bit; for the times I've been too quick to judge, and the times I've felt misunderstood.
I woke up puffy-eyed, a little raw.
My heart, stretched.