Monday, September 19, 2011
Reunions - Love 'em or Hate 'em
Some people I know would NEVER attend a reunion of their high school or college graduating classes. Other people I know would not miss attending any sort of reunion. Personally, I love reunions. However, I remember when I first realized that not everyone has a happy time in high school, and I felt terrible that I had not realized that when I was in school. Perhaps I could have done something, or made an effort, and encouraged others to make an effort to reach out to those that could barely tolerate being there. How naive and thoughtless of me to assume everyone felt as I did, looking forward to going to school daily, waiting for the weekends for the football games and dances and all the things that contributed to my enjoyment of high school. I graduated in a class of 656 students, and I have to say I absolutely loved high school. I certainly did not know all of my classmates, but in retrospect I regret that I was oblivious to any of them who might have been hurting or suffering for any reason. My recent blog about bullies in schools has made me think more and more about children who are not able to enjoy their school days and years because of mistreatment by others, because of feeling excluded from groups, because of not fitting in, because of not being able to dress as others do, or not coming from a great neighborhood, or coming from a troubled home where any form of abuse is occurring. Out of the 656 students in my class, I wonder now who was perhaps physically abused, sexually abused, or verbally and emotionally abused at home. There were no published statistics about those things when I was in school, and people did not talk about those subjects in front of us. That does not mean they did not happen. I was not aware of any bullies in school, but I seem to have been such a Pollyanna loving my own life that I surrounded myself with friends just like myself. In reflecting on those years there are several students whom I do remember who may have hated school, and I wish I could find them and tell them that I regret I was so oblivious that I did nothing to help them. I actually have looked for them on line but have never found them, and they have never attended any of our class reunions. No one seems to know what happened to them after high school. I comfort myself by hoping that they became extremely happy and successful adults and do not attend reunions because they felt no connection to others, but I also fear that perhaps their lives have not been happy or successful and that maybe my friends and I could have done something to change that for them. Of course, I will probably never know but it makes me want even more to encourage you to teach your children to be kind to every classmate, to include them at lunch or recess, and to stand up for them if others are mistreating them. We pass through life only once. It is not a dress rehearsal, so let's help today's children have the best beginnings possible for themselves and all the others whose lives they will touch.