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.
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.