STORY TIME: FLOWERS FOR A BULLY
It had been a rough first week for Betty Lamb in her Kindergarten. The school building was much bigger than her cozy preschool, there were so many kids around her and her teachers always seemed to be very busy tending other kids, paying almost no attention to her, or so she felt.
It seemed to her like the louder children got all the attention from her teachers, and she was a quiet, shy little lamb, smaller than the rest of her classmates.
Betty wore glasses with a thick purple frame and the rubber bands in her braces matched them. She was very proud of them, she always thought they allowed her to express her creative mind.
She loved mismatched clothes, and paid special attention to mismatching her socks: She wore a black-and-white striped sock in one leg and a green-and-yellow polka dot in the other. Her skirt was red and her top was electric blue. She added a special touch with a hot pink beanie and a neon orange scarf. One shoe was red, the other one was black. Looking at herself in the mirror, wearing clothes that expressed what was inside her mind made her very happy. It was as if clothes spoke what she was too shy to say out loud.
She loved school, but it was overwhelming. She wished she could make everyone stop and lay on the grass with her, imagining shapes on the clouds and comfortably share a silence for a moment, but everything at school seemed to be rushed: bell rang, run, make a line, march together, get into the classroom, grab your pencil, work on whatever the teacher asks you to do.
Betty’s teacher was very kind, but she always seemed busy. She sat Betty next to Ollie Hare, a very pretty, very popular hare with beautiful long ears and bright dark eyes. Ollie was loud, and she always
seemed to have an opinion about everything.
To be honest, Betty Lamb was a bit
intimidated by her.
Betty Lamb loved to draw and she used her special pencil for that, one that she bought in a garage sale. She drew a mushroom house with little elves living in it. Ollie Hare saw her drawing, and she liked it a lot
“That is pretty, teach me how to draw that,” Ollie said in a bossy tone. She was loud and Betty, being so shy didn’t know how to react so she just kept quiet. “Oh, I bet it’s your pencil that does the magic,” she said as she snatched Betty’s special pencil off her hands.
Betty Lamb was appalled, nothing like that happened to her before. In her preschool, teachers were always around and kids always were kind to each other. She didn’t know what to do.
The bell for lunchtime rang and as all the kids made a single file, Betty Lamb could hear Ollie Hare showing her special pencil to the other kids and saying how she could now draw better than Betty. It made her feel very sad.
As the class walked down the hall towards the cafeteria, Betty heard some giggles behind her. Ollie said to other girls “she looks like a clown” and pointed at her, while they laughed. Betty couldn’t understand what was wrong with her outfit, she wanted to explain it to Ollie but she couldn’t find the words.
At the cafeteria, Betty brought her new lunchbox. She tried to open it but the locks in the new lunchbox were so hard! Betty started to feel very anxious: Her tummy was rumbling, she couldn’t open her lunchbox, all the people around her were strangers, she missed her preschool so much, Miss Alex would have already opened her lunchbox for her in her preschool! she wanted her special pencil back, she thought of all the things Ollie said to and about her… and she started to cry, quietly.
Ollie Hare saw her in the distance and came to her. “Are you crying? Do you miss your mommy, little baby?” Ollie said, mockingly, as she took Betty’s lunchbox and violently opened it, spilling Betty’s food all over the table “here you go, crying baby” and turned around, leaving Betty scared, sad and confused.
Betty cried harder, one of the teachers noticed the situation and asked Ollie to clean up everything for Betty and to offer an apology. Which she did, with a smirk that made Betty feel even worse.
That school day came to an end and all the kids waited for their parents, except for Ollie. On her walk back home, Betty noticed Ollie sitting on a bench by herself and saw so much sadness and loneliness on her face. Something was going on with Ollie, could it be possible that her attitude was the result of her feeling so lonely? Seeing her sitting all alone made her look vulnerable and not so intimidating, Betty thought.
Back at home, Betty’s mom was aware of what had happened at school, the teacher had called her to notify the incident and naturally, mom lamb was not happy about it. “I don’t want you to be bullied, my dear! If she pushes you, you push her back!” she advised her daughter, still angry about what had happened.
That made no sense to Betty. “So, let’s say she hits me,” Betty said to her mom “so, I hit her back,” she continued. “Then of course she will hit me back, harder, then… am I supposed to hit her back again, harder?” she said with incredulity in her voice. “Well” her mom said “I just don’t want anyone to abuse you and get away with it”
“I don’t see how that would solve anything” said Betty with a sad voice, looking at the rug under her feet “I saw her at the park and she looked really sad and lonely. She is surrounded by kids, but in the end she doesn’t seem like she really has a friend. I will be her friend. I will bring her flowers to school tomorrow and I will ask her to be my friend”
Betty’s mom scratched her head with incredulity. But she knew her daughter, so she supported her decision “But you have to promise me that if she tries to hurt you, you will defend yourself” she said, hugging her daughter. “I have a feeling that won’t be necessary, mom,” Betty said with a smile.
The next day, Betty woke up earlier than usual and went to her backyard to pick fresh flowers for Ollie, which she carefully tied together with a yellow ribbon. As she got to school and saw Ollie in the playground, playing by herself, she presented her with the flowers.
- What… is that? Ollie asked, confused
- Flowers… for you
- For me? But… why?
- Because I want to be your friend
Ollie Hare scoffed, she was so confused. She wasn’t used to having anyone give her anything or being nice to her just because. And there she was, this girl, to whom she had not been nice to, giving her flowers and asking to be friends.
Ollie took the flowers and gave a crooked smile, the bell rang and they had to go into class. Ollie couldn’t concentrate, she was so intrigued by Betty’s gesture. When the time came for recess, Ollie walked to Betty’s desk and gave her a serious look.
Betty was scared, was Ollie upset? But to her surprise, Ollie stretched her paw to her, smiled, and said “friends?” Betty smiled a big smile and grabbed Ollie’s paw “friends!” she exclaimed. Ollie Hare put the flowers around her long ears and they both spent recess together.
Betty taught Ollie to lay on the grass and quietly find shapes on the clouds, while Ollie taught Betty how to be the fastest runner playing tag. I wouldn’t say Betty and Ollie’s friendship was perfect, they had disagreements, but they respected each other. Ollie even made a colorful beanie for Betty’s collection at knitting class!
Everyone at school was surprised by this unlikely friendship, especially by Betty’s kindness and braveness. But it was Betty’s mom who learned the most: you cannot fight violence with violence, and it took her little daughter to teach her that important lesson.
Betty was brave by being kind.
Ollie was open to learning from a new friend.
Betty’s mom didn’t push her daughter to do as she said, but listen to her ideas.
Friendships are not perfect, but we learn from each other and grow together.
People will always remember how you treat them.