Mean: a post especially for Twin Cities area readers.

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 Bully7 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.

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0 Responses to Mean: a post especially for Twin Cities area readers.

  1. Chris says:

    I read a bit about this play in Minnesota Monthly. I’m glad that people are working to raise awareness about bullying… I just wish that suicides hadn’t been the reason people started to pay attention recently. 😦

  2. Kim says:

    Thank you for this. Someone who needs these words will read them. You will make a difference.

  3. gayle says:

    I was a victim of bullying in school, just because I was shy and therefore socially awkward. Which just made me shyer and even more socially awkward. By the time I got to high school, I had almost perfected the art of being Invisible…

  4. Cookie says:

    People always talk about how bad boys can be, but I really think there is nothing crueler than girls. Unless it’s grown women who are still mean little girls at heart.

  5. Amanda says:

    I think every girl/woman has a story of when she was ostracized by a group. I liked that you shared a time when you were bullied as well as when you may have been considered a bully.

  6. Carrie K says:

    Do the bullying students get vaporized on stage? I don’t think I could watch that play without having a wartime flashback. I mean, elementary school. I still think that my ninth year was the worst I’ve ever had.

  7. AlisonH says:

    Boy does that sound familiar. I went through that, although thankfully only at a school bus stop. For months. The silent treatment from the older-than-me girls at that stop. I never did find out what it was about other than a pure power trip for the sake of it.
    I think in the end I grew up a nicer person because I sure didn’t want to be like that to anybody ever. I’m sorry you had to go through it too.

  8. kate says:

    I had no idea that being ostracized was such a common form of bullying. I’m from a very small town too… and when I was 13, a “representative” of the class took me aside and informed me that they (the whole class)had taken a vote and decided that none of them would speak to me again. It was horrible. Eventually, some months later, a small group relented and said that they felt awful about what was done. Sadly, there was no moving away for me and I had to complete highschool in the company of these people (who continued to turn on me at the drop of some imaginary hat…for years…). I’m still a little afraid of people…

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