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Pork Chops and Karate Chops

February 21, 2013
This is my brother Jesse and me in high school in Iola, Kansas. I was 15, he was 17.

This is my brother Jesse and me in high school in Iola, Kansas. I was 15, he was 17.

Yesterday I was walking this sweet, smaller than me 9th grader to the office so he could call his mom. We’re half way across the yard when another student starts yelling, “HI! HI KENDALL! HI! HI KENDALL!” over and over and over. Kendall turns around, sees him, half waves and turns back. I ask him what the deal was. He shrugged. I asked him if the other kid was being mean. And he nodded. And I said some encouraging things to him about what a great student he was, that 9th grade is tough, that he should try to ignore the idiots that surround him.

I guess I was lucky because growing up I was neither a bully, nor was I bullied. And I had reason to be teased as I sat outside my classroom during holiday parties, and stayed seated every single day when the Pledge of Allegiance was said. Being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness set me up for ridicule but if anything I just recall my school friends being sad I couldn’t come to slumber parties or the skating rink. I digress.

Social status is bullshit. I only wish I could say this to him. I only wish I could tell him that kids who are cool in high school are peaking and will likely go on to live boring uneventful lives waiting tables at Olive Garden talking about parties they used to throw when mom and dad were out of town. Kids who aren’t cool in high school will be awesome adults, for the most part. But what 9th grader really cares about that when he’s getting teased?

Ninth grade is tricky. Hell, all grades are tricky. But 9th graders are tiny or huge, covered in zits, noses filled with the sickest blackheads, too-tight sweat pants that are now also too short. They have greasy hair because new hormones are surging. They wear bad makeup but still look like little girls carrying their flowered backpacks. They operate like little kids in giant bodies. They’re wrestling for a social place, or oblivious. Or worse.

Think about what you can do in your community. If you have an extra hour a week, be a mentor to a kid who needs it. Be tender to those who need more love. And be nice.

This spoken word, animated poem by Shane Koyczan (featured on today) is beautiful. Simply beautiful. For teachers and adminstrators, it would be a perfect classroom exercise for a lesson on bullying or a meaningful lesson in writing class on spoken word poetry. Watch it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2013 2:51 pm

    Yeah, being in Iola during middle school AND trying to downplay the whole J-Dub thing was tough allright. I really tried to downplay the fact. Because if everyone already hates you, you don’t want to stand out even more. Thank goodness I am free from that spiritual abuse. These days, I would say my life is more interesting than many of my peers who settled down in Iola, but I don’t know if it is any better. It is sad but true that although some people who were not well liked in school may go on to find happiness and success later in life, it doesn’t always end up that way…despite what all the movies about teens will lead you to believe about the underdog. I wish it were that simple. I wonder where the unpopular kids at our school are today. Interestingly, the person that used to bully me the most died last year, but I don’t know exactly how. Maybe it was from the collective sentiment of everyone he bullied who had a death wish for him. I forgave him (in my mind) a long time ago, because I knew that he was most likely a very unhappy person.

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