So Not Okay

“Write about a scar.”

The prompt shouldn’t have put me in a quandary, but it did.  My new writing friends wrote passionate pieces, heart-clenching snapshots of pain and survival. I struggled to know what to write about.

Should I write about the time I tried to do a swan dive into a wading pool, using a turned-over wheelbarrow as a diving board?  Let’s just say I don’t recommend it. The damage to my pride was enormous.  The cut on my toe hurt. I can’t forget the freeze-less stitches by the small-town doctor.  He tried to convince me that chomping on an orange sucker would make me forget about the stabbing of his needle, and he was right–because I was too busy choking on candy.

I still don’t like orange suckers. Or orange-sucker flavoured anything.

I could tell the story of the boy who dared to steal my pillowcase at Halloween, the same pillowcase wonderful people in my small town had half-filled with generous donations of sticky toffee and chocolate and even popcorn balls, because back then, no one worried about needles in apples or poison in popcorn.  Okay, I shouldn’t have thrown his shoe in the river after he traded back. I was mad because he’d scared me and I didn’t like to be scared.

I still don’t think my punishment was deserved.

There’s the time I was told I was going to die.  Wait, that happened twice. And my wee bit of claustrophobia because my brother thought it was funny to lock me up in a storage room. Or my inability to relax in the car when it’s snowing, because other drivers don’t slow down. I’ve been in four accidents, and I don’t even have a license.

There’s the scar on my knee and the one on my back, and the little one on my hip.  I’ve got one on my pinky too, from a glass breaking in my hand right before I had to play my flute at a wedding. Physical scars of things gone wrong in days gone by.

But the real reason I can’t choose what personal scar to write about is because I’ve been thinking about bullying, and my scars seem so minor compared to the ones being formed on some kids today. I’m joining my friend Nancy Rue in her #SoNotOkay campaign. It’s focus is  girls, 8-12 because we know bullying starts with grade school–even before grade school. Nancy has a trio of books coming out soon (the Mean Girl Makeover series). The bully and the bullied will get a chance to be heard, but the first book is from the point of view of the bystanders.

ImageAnd lets face it, we’ve all been a bystander at one time or another. Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on a school playground. Adult intervention: 4%. Peer intervention: 11%. No intervention: 85%.

That’s just wrong.

Nancy’s cause is my cause too. The pain the kids feel is real. It’s lasting. The scars are invisible, but so deep they sometimes can’t be healed. Bullying can be a contributing factor to eating disorders, non-suicidal self-injury and even some suicide statistics. It’s not because girls, teens and young women are “trying to get attention” but because they just want to escape the pain.

We can help. Join the So Not Okay campaign and help stop bullying before it starts. Ask to have Nancy speak at schools and churches in your neighbourhood.  She’s an incredible speaker to all age groups, but she’s especially passionate about the kids, and they relate well to her. Help to develop tools for kids, parents and educators. It’s an important grassroots movement that you can be a part of.

Wouldn’t it be nice if in the future they face a writing prompt about scars, and being bullied doesn’t even occur to them?

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