Kindness Is More Powerful

Kindness Is More Powerful

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Kindness Is More Powerful

As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

~Albert Schweitzer

“Is she coming?” my shaky voice cracked. I didn’t dare look behind me. My sister, Kayleen, turned to see the front of the middle school where eager seventh- and eighth-graders were pushing their way to carpools or making their way down the sidewalk toward an evening of television and homework.

“No,” she whispered, “but if we walk faster, maybe we’ll miss her completely. I’ll bet she’s still waiting for you outside the gym door.”

I walked faster with my head bent down because tears were stinging my eyes and my nose had started to run. My heart was beating furiously and I had a sick feeling in my stomach.

Who was “she?” You might be wondering. Her name was Sabrina, and she was a bully. We were in gym class together, and I was less than athletic — more like pathetic! I didn’t run very fast, and I was afraid of being hit by a ball, so I was a ducker not a catcher.

That day during gym class, we had played soccer. I not only embarrassed myself, I also made Sabrina mad — basically because she was on my team, and we didn’t win. So, in the shower, she threatened me! “I’ll meet you after class,” she sneered, “and you will wish you and I had never met!”

I didn’t need to wait until after class, I already wished we had never met!

As soon as class was over, I snuck out the teacher’s entrance and ran to my locker where Kayleen was already waiting for me, so we could walk home together.

“What’s up with you?” she asked, noticing the look of panic in my eyes. “Sabrina!” I choked. “We lost the soccer game in gym and it was my fault. She was on my team.”

“Oh,” Kayleen simply stated, but she patted my back in understanding. “Well,” she said, “we’ll walk down Seventeenth South instead of Harrison. It’s out of the way enough that Sabrina won’t have a clue.”

Kayleen and I lived straight down the hill about a mile from Clayton Middle School. Sabrina lived somewhere in the middle. She had followed us most of the way chanting harassments since the first day of school. I couldn’t figure out what I had ever done to her. She couldn’t have had an idea of how bad I was at sports on the first day of school!

My mother said it was because I was quiet and kind and nonconfrontational that made me an easy target for bullies. I just felt like a loser! I was grateful for Kayleen, though. I always knew I could count on her. I think because she was my older sister, she felt like she needed to be my protector, and she was, always thinking of ways to avoid Sabrina or any of her sidekicks who enjoyed harassing me on a daily basis.

“Slow down!” Kayleen gasped. “You’re practically running. We’re far enough away now to be safe.”

I looked up and Kayleen noticed my tears. “What about tomorrow?” I sobbed. “She’ll just make it worse tomorrow!”

Kayleen stopped dead in her tracks, causing me to stop, as well. I turned to look at her. She stood there with her hands on her hips. “Well, then,” she said in her favorite grown-up voice, “I guess you just might have to tell someone, then!”

“It will just make it worse,” I mumbled.

The next day arrived in record time. As Kayleen and I made our way up the steep Harrison Avenue hill, I felt sick. “I still think you should tell somebody,” Kayleen chirped every few minutes.

I never replied until she had said that at least ten times, and then I burst out, “Tell somebody what? That Sabrina is mean and scary and just creeps me out? She’s never actually done anything! Am I supposed to just tell them I am a big, fat baby who can’t handle seventh grade because she is in it, too? What am I supposed to say?” Kayleen didn’t respond. We walked the rest of the way in silence.

In homeroom, Sabrina’s best friend passed me a note that stated, “At lunch, you will pay for running away!” I didn’t even look up, but I accidentally swallowed my gum and choked until Mr. McKonkie excused me to go and get a drink.

Walking down the hall, I felt a slight sense of relief and freedom. Still, the note had me scared, and I ducked into the girls’ bathroom and just cried. When I calmed down enough, I washed my face so I could go back to class without it being totally obvious. As I made my way down the hallway, I had a sick feeling that I was being followed.

Suddenly, someone kicked me in the back of the leg, hard. I almost fell over. “You little chicken!” Sabrina’s voice sneered. I didn’t turn around, I just walked faster. Why wasn’t she in class? I wondered in my panic. I turned to go into Mr. McKonkie’s class, but Sabrina blocked me. I turned again and started running down the hall. I had no idea what she was going to do, but three months of constant harassment was weighing heavily on my mind, and I was really freaked out.

Sabrina was now chasing me. At last, she caught up with me enough to kick the back of my legs, trying to knock me down. In a panic, I swung around to the staircase that led to the science and math department. Sabrina was so close to me by then that my sudden shift in direction knocked her off balance and she toppled down the stairs. I stood there watching her fall.

At first, I felt a sudden independence and victory. I turned to walk away from her when I noticed she hadn’t stood up yet. Instinct took over, and I suddenly wasn’t afraid of her anymore. I practically jumped down the stairs and touched her shoulder. “Can I help?” I asked. When she looked up, I could tell she was in pain. “I can’t walk,” she moaned. I helped her into a standing position, put her arm around my shoulder and together we hobbled to the nurse’s office.

Sabrina never harassed me after that. We never became friends, but from that moment at the foot of the stairs, I knew I had earned her respect. She still hated being on my team in gym class, but things were different. Her best friend would still start in on me sometimes, but Sabrina would shake her head and quietly say, “Leave her alone.”

And she always would.

~Janalea Jeppson

EDITORS’ NOTE: For more information about how to deal with bullies, log on to www.kidshealth.org (keyword search: “bullying”).

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