I thought you should know that I still remember the way that you made fun of me in the lunch line. The way that my spine curved because of a condition I had when I was still a kid, and how you got all of the other students to laugh at me, too, as you mockingly jeered about it.
To you, it was no big deal.
I remember the time you let all of your friends cut in front of me in the lunch line.
Every. single. time you did it.
I still remember all the laughing—probably nothing to you—poking fun at my expense.
You were a jerk.
I say that now, years later.
A score of years separate that time between my twelve year-old self, and the self that exists in the here and now.
Today I’d have told you to knock it off. I’d have had the nerve to stand up to you and tell you that it wasn’t cool.
I’d tell you that being mean to others isn’t anything to be proud of.
I’d show you what being cool was really all about.
Did you know that I grew up and became a teacher?
I still see you from time to time…in the faces of some of my students.
I do everything I can to help them to realize that being a bully just isn’t cool.
I realize that many of them have been hurt, too.
Sometimes, I rail on them for being mean to somebody else.
Then I put my arm around them, and I remind them that Mr. Z is on their side, too.
I let them know that I care about them…even when they do wrong.
I wanted to thank you.
You gave me a heart.
It was partially due to you that I learned what it felt like to be shunned, to be ridiculed, and to be the butt of jokes.
You want to know what you did to me?
You made me stronger.
No, not at the time. At the time, you destroyed me. Words can’t express how much it hurt all those years ago, nor can they convey just how much it helped build me and make me who I am today.
Did I mention that I’m a teacher?
I see you all the time.
Sometimes in the faces of my students.
I do everything in my power to help them not to become like you were.
For that, I thank you.
And I’m no longer angry.