That One-eyed Girl on the Playground

Regrets, I have a few. One involves the way I treated a one-eye girl on the playground while in middle school.

Life during the middle school years was a time when kids who previously played together fairly and equally began to yield to peer pressure, evolved into social clichés and started to develop social biases and tendencies toward preferential treatment of others. I wasn’t a member of the most popular group but I wasn’t among the social outcasts either.

Combination playground equipment (plastic)

Combination playground equipment (plastic) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day while on the playground my friends and I noticed a new girl. She was extremely tall, much taller than any of us. She had short red curly hair, freckles and most notably she had a white eye-patch covering her right eye. She was standing completely alone and looking around as if she were lost. Thinking back upon it now, I realize how much she must have felt out of place.

As kids will do, my friends and I began daring each other to go up and speak to her. We had no intention of befriending her. Our plan was that one of us would run up to her and say something mean and then run back to the safety of our little group.

After several “Uh-uh, no, you do it” mutterings from the group I finally said that I would do it. The other girls smiled gleefully just waiting to see how much fun this would be.

I summoned up my courage, ran up to her and said, “HI!” I briefly locked eyes with her and just as she smiled and started to say something I panicked and quickly ran back to my group. They were all laughing and pointing back at her as I arrived. I looked over my shoulder and saw her standing there looking at us. I remember thinking that she looked hurt and for just the briefest of moments I felt badly for her. Of course that moment of empathy faded quickly because my friends encircled me and showered me with praise for my brave endeavor. The next day out of curiosity I looked for her on the playground but she wasn’t there. I never saw her again.

When I think about her now what I remember the most is the smile she gave me as I walked up to her. I know that smile now; it is a smile of hope. And because I understand the feeling behind that smile and because I can identify with the feeling behind that smile as it faded away, I realize now that what was an innocent prank to me was probably a mean and ugly rejection in her eyes.

If I could speak to her now I would ask her to forgive me for being so shallow. But since I have no idea whatever happened to her the only thing I can do to reverse my karma is to teach my children that cruel pranks sometimes have damaging consequences that not only affect the victim but often ourselves. The look on that girl’s face often comes to mind, especially when I feel rejected or unappreciated by others. It is a strong reminder that one way or the other we answer for what we do.

I think about how unkind we become toward each other after we exit the wonder of childhood. Perhaps that is when we begin a separation from God.




3 thoughts on “That One-eyed Girl on the Playground

  1. Bear in mind that you didn’t follow through with what your peers were pressuring you into. You didn’t yell obscenities or any other form of degradation. You said hi. And then you got scared. Could it be that part of you realized that the original plan would have been so anathemic to who you are that you couldn’t bring yourself to go through with it?

  2. Thank you for heart felt confession. It moved me empathically feeling the emotions of the little girl. I would venture to say, that hardly any one of us have passed through childhood without some kind of hurtful statement or action directed at someone less popular or weaker than us in some way. I can say that I too have acted in a way that may have felt wrong as I was doing it, but I did not stop. I carry those feeling with me today to some extent, as you do. I do not demean myself or beat myself up for those actions. I have forgiven myself for my childishness. I do, like you professed, try to teach my children to act differently.

    I may not have understood you completely when you said as we leave the wonder (innocence) of childhood is when we begin the separation from God. I would disagree. I feel that is when we begin to build a relationship of maturity and understanding with God.

    In 1999, I would beat myself up for acting in a way that I knew was wrong and destructive to my body and mind. I felt that separation that you referred to; how can God love me or even want me to talk to Him with my problem behavior? I was pulling myself away due to guilt and shame. I felt detached and alone. Then came a moment of inspiration where I realized that shame and guilt was an internal contrivence of my own imagination. I relaxed, allowed myself to feel the love of the creator and knew that the behavior would eventually fall away. It changed my consciousness and ultimately, changed my relationship with myself and the world.

    P.S. I personally believe in a spiritual essence and nature for myself and human kind, I do not assign anyone else those parameters. You can change those words to make it secular if that suits your understanding. My point being, as we recognize behavior we want to change, it requires, first an awareness and then some path to redeem yourself to whatever standard you have established for yourself.

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