Cross the Road
I just watched a video about a young woman with a terrible skin condition, and it's caused her to deal with bullying and horrific treatment from others. It gave me a grade-school flashback from my days as a young girl when we lived in Washington state.
School had just let out and all the kids who rode buses were waiting in the long bus lines. Those of us who were "walkers" started down the road in a pretty big pack. This was back in the day when walking to and from school was no big deal. There were about 20 of us walking/skipping/running down the side of the road, happy that school was out for the day. I remember looking over at the other side of the road and there was a lone girl, appeared to be about my age. I stayed with the pack, but continued to glance her way every few minutes. Then I heard a few comments from some of the walkers regarding this girl...and I remember those comments were not nice at all. This made me glance a little harder at her, and I realized she looked different. Something was wrong with her skin. Well, being raised how I was, I knew the comments the other kids were making were wrong and hurtful. I felt terrible for this girl. I'm sure she probably heard what they were saying, too, because they weren't exactly remarks made quietly.
So I decided to do something that, to this day, I will always remember in great detail...I crossed the road. She looked at me quite bewildered. I'm sure she was wondering what on earth I was doing. I introduced myself in a very elementary-school manner "Hi!!! I'm Tammy! Who are you?!?" (Makes me smile just thinking about that). She told me her name was Bobbi. Then, once again, in a very gradeschool-like way, I bluntly asked her what was wrong with her skin. She explained she was born with incredibly dry skin that cracked and peeled and she had to stay covered up as much as possible...which explained why she had on long sleeves and pants, whereas I had on shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. Her skin was VERY red, looked like one big scab all over her body. She said it hurt a lot because of how dry it was; she had to use a special lotion to try and help it heal. Can you imagine?!? I'm pretty sure I had an "oh-wow" sort of shocked look on my face. But we continued to walk down the road, talking, and by the time we had reached the point where she was to turn right and I was to go left, we were friends. She was funny and friendly and liked to do the same things I did...run, climb trees, explore, play outside. She invited me to come over to her house and play sometime. Which I did. 😊
Bobbi became one of my best friends in elementary school. She did not stay at Shelton View (our school) very long. I remember her family had to move, but I can't remember exactly why. I was sad that she was no longer there, but I will never forget her. She was funny and kind and sweet and my fun new friend.
I encourage everyone, young and old, to not cave and go with the crowd. Be kind. Be nice. Cross the road.
- Tammy Dixon