Mira Opens Up
Jenna finished her homework and sat back to rub her forehead. She had a bit of a headache. “What a day,” she thought. Her tennis team competed against their rivals. A team that hardly ever lost and liked to rub it in their faces. They had won again. At least Jenna’s team lost with grace while their rivals acted like sore winners.
After tennis, Katie’s little sister wanted some help. Danielle has two best friends that don’t get along and want to play alone with Dani at recess. Her one friend Daisy is very bossy and makes others play what she wants to play and how she wants to play it. If they don’t, she storms off crying. Plus, she has a younger brother Tommy that their mother apparently said Daisy and her friends have to play with at recess. If that wasn’t enough, Tommy could be whatever character he wanted when they played. However everyone else had to be who Daisy said they had to be. Then Dani’s other friend Morgan only wanted to play double-dutch or hopscotch. What a dilemma when your two best friends don’t get along.
Jenna tried to explain to Danielle that just because she and her friends are all the same age academically, doesn’t mean they are all at the same place socially and emotionally. It seems like Daisy hasn’t learned to take turns and share. She might be a little immature and controlling. Jenna suggested that instead of giving in to her every time that she explain that she needs to let her friends choose who they want to be when playing and to try out others’ ideas too. If she gets all upset, let her storm off and don’t apologize. Tell her when she is ready to play fair she can come and join you. Jenna couldn’t believe those words came out of her mouth. She sounded just like... her mother!
Katie and Jenna decided the best advice they could think up was to alternate playing with each friend. Dani had two recesses a day so she could play with one friend first recess and the other second recess. At least until they could hopefully all play together one day. Danielle said she would give it a try.
Trying to give out good advice to everyone was not easy. Jenna was only thirteen. She struggled enough with her own problems! Even though she felt like she was in over her head quite often she still needed to make the B.U.L.L.Y. Club work. When others were involved she wouldn’t feel so much pressure, she would hopefully have a lot more help.
Friday morning, Jenna’s mother drove the three girls to school early. They were going to try to get more signatures from students in before school activities like choir and track. Then they would get as many as they could as the halls filled before first period. They were doing great until they heard a fight broke out five minutes before the bell rang. The vice principal was trying to shoo everyone off to class, while some teachers went to break up the fight. Jenna wondered where the principal was.
In first period, the room was buzzing with rumors and questions about the rumble in the East wing of the school. The bell rang and their teacher walked in demanding silence. There was no information about the fight, of course, in the morning announcements over the loud speaker. There was quite a positive cheer when it was announced that pizza was one of the choices for lunch, though.
In English class, Mr. Washburn had everyone tally up all their signatures so far. Jenna made sure he added in the 28 votes Mira had, too. So far they had a total of 576 signatures! Mr. Washburn was impressed. They voted on how long they wanted to get as many signatures as possible. It was decided that they would collect signatures through next Wednesday. Then they would schedule a walk out for next Friday at 1:00 PM sharp. Jenna was both excited and nervous. It was a risky move. After 20 minutes Mr. Washburn ended their discussion about the walk out and had them pull out their copies of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was hard to concentrate on the book with all her emotions swirling around about the walk out.
Saturday morning, Jenna was up bright and early. She made brownies for the B.U.L.L.Y. Club with her secret ingredient, thin mint candies. She had a feeling this was going to be a good meeting. The boys couldn’t make it, so it was just the girl’s. Jenna was sure Mira would open up a bit today.
“Ooh! Brownies!” Said Steven excitedly.
“Don’t you dare touch them!” Warned Jenna. “They are for club members only.”
“You know, I was thinking today would be a good day to come to one of your meetings,” said Steven.
“Nice try, but no,” said Jenna. “Today is just for the girls.”
“No fair!” Pouted Steven.
Jenna brought the brownies into the room above her garage. The door opened as she put out some napkins.
“Hey, hey,” said Katie.
“Hey!” Jenna repeated back.
“Brownies!!” Yelled Katie as she put down a bag with two six packs of soda.
“That’s a lot of soda,” said Jenna. “I told you it was just us girls today, right?”
“Yep. I figure I can just leave any extra cans for our next meeting,” said Katie.
“Hi,” said a quiet voice. Mira walked in with a bag of chips.
“Hi!” Said Jenna and Katie at the same time.
“Jinx you owe me a coke,” Katie said to Jenna.
“Thanks for bringing chips,” said Jenna. “You didn’t have to bring anything.”
“I know,” said Mira shyly. “I wanted to.”
The door opened again and Mary came in with a plate of oatmeal cookies. Katie’s mouth dropped open.
Mary smiled, “You can close your mouth. These are homemade oatmeal cookies. I used applesauce instead of sugar.”
“So you brought oatmeal and applesauce, that is more believable,” said Katie.
“Trust me they taste just as good as your sugar one’s,” said Mary.
“Yeah right,” Katie said quietly to Jenna and Mira.
“I heard that,” said Mary.
They all sat down and officially started the meeting. They talked about the petition, the walk out, and they told Mira what she missed in English class. Then Katie asked if anyone learned anything about the fight Friday morning. Mary had heard it was a group of girls. But that was all she knew.
Then it happened! Mira started to speak. The other girls made sure they stayed quiet so Mira would keep talking.
“So, I’m sorry I let you think I was sick that day I missed. I… I just faked being sick,” Mira explained as she looked down at her hands as she appeared to be pretending to scrape something off one of her nails. “This group of girls that pick on me all the time, said they were going to get me good the next day if I didn’t give them the answers to the math test I took that day. I’m in advanced math as well as English with you guys. Even though I’m not in the same class as those girls they were taking the same test the next day. I couldn’t do it. If I didn’t give them the answers the next morning who knows what they would have done. I figured it would be better if I skipped a day and said I was sick. I mean, maybe they would let me off the hook for being sick. I felt so bad because my Grandma had to come over to take care of me. I’m so sick and tired of being picked on because I’m short, brainy, freckled, wear glasses, and I don’t have fancy clothes. Even if my Dad hadn’t been laid off work for six months last year and we had plenty of money, I wouldn’t wear the clothes those popular girls wear. Maybe I’m weird, but I like overalls, turtle necks, sneakers, jeans and tees. That’s just me. I like my hair in pigtails best, even though they say that is so first grade. My Mom and Grandma just tell me to ignore them. These girls won’t let me just ignore them though! They get in my face, tease me, embarrass me, chase me into restrooms and corner me all the time. I wish I could just ignore them and they’d go away.” Mira paused as some tears ran down her face.
Mary grabbed some tissues out of her bag and handed them to Mira. Jenna hugged her.
“You are beautiful Mira,” said Jenna.
“You don’t have to say that. I know I’m not,” said Mira as she wiped her tears. “But thanks for being nice to me.”
“You really are beautiful,” said Mary and Katie agreed.
“Maybe we aren’t ‘model’ beautiful but we are all beautiful girls,” said Jenna honestly. “You are smart, talented, caring, brave, and very nice. You should be proud to be you and not let a bunch of silly mean girls make you think otherwise. They may seem pretty and have expensive clothes but their meanness makes them ugly.”
“That is so true,” said Katie.
“Please don’t listen to those mean girls,” said Mary. “There is seriously nothing wrong with you, they just want you to think there is. That’s what bullies do. They want to make you miserable, and feel bad about yourself.”
“Don’t let them do that to you Mira,” said Katie.
“So many people that are bullied keep it to themselves,” explained Jenna. “When you are isolated it gets you down, and eats you up, and then you start believing their nonsense. Then some people don’t even want to live anymore or live alone in misery. The bullies win. We need to stop that. I want you to be proud of who you are Mira. When those mean girls try to make you feel bad, don’t let them! Get mad and think to yourself, ‘How dare you treat me like this! I don’t deserve this.’ Stand up for yourself. Even if you feel you can’t when you are out-numbered, tell someone as soon as you can. It is not being a tattle-tail. You need to talk about it, find people that will listen and help you out. If we all started standing up for ourselves and others we can really make a difference.”
“Wow,” said Katie as she looked at Jenna in awe. “I never realized just how passionate you were about this until just now.”
“We are always here for you Mira,” said Mary. “I mean with Jenna on your side, you know things are going to get better.”
Mira smiled. “Thank you. You guys are good friends. I will try to stand up for myself and definitely keep telling.”
“Good for you,” said Jenna.
They all kept talking for a couple of hours. Not just about bullying. They chatted about all kinds of things and had a great time. Jenna was surprised to find out she had a lot in common with Mira.
Time seemed to speed up and before they knew it, it was Thursday afternoon. Between all 23 students in Mr. Washburn’s class they had tallied up 1, 762 signatures in class Wednesday. The class had cheered. Jenna even got a few teachers to sign the petition. Mr. Washburn agreed to deliver the petition to Principal Miller at the end of the day. Jenna had attached a note to the front of the petition explaining their plan and that they hoped it proved how much bully awareness was wanted and needed at their school.
Just as we were discussing our book and why Boo hid presents inside the tree, the speaker in the room beeped and Principal Miller began talking. He explained that he had been given a petition and was informed there would be a walk out on Friday. He then said that it is his job to make decisions that are in the best interests of all students and their academic success. So basically any student that participated in the walk out tomorrow would be suspended for three days. Panic and boo’s echoed in the classroom.
“Quiet down,” said Mr. Washburn holding his hand up. “I know you are all upset but this is a normal response. I’ve never heard of a principal saying, ‘Hey cool, a walk out. Good luck with that kids.’ So, let’s all just relax.”
“Are you saying we should still do the walk-out?” Asked Kevin.
“I am not in a position to tell you what to do. The principal has spoken,” said Mr. Washburn.
Jenna raised her hand. Mr. Washburn nodded his okay for her to speak.
“Not as a teacher, but as a person who sticks up for what he believes in, would you support us walking out tomorrow?” Jenna asked anxiously.
“As a person, I think people should always stand up for what they believe is important, and I would support them,” said Mr. Washburn. “As your teacher I need to get back to our discussion.”
After class Jenna quietly talked with some of her friends and classmates out in the hall. They agreed they would spread the word by mouth, texting, and internet that the walk out was happening. Jenna took every opportunity to spread the word to any students in view whether she knew them or not. In her last class and on the bus she started a whisper chain telling the person next to her that the walk out was happening and to pass it on. The girls felt they were getting mostly positive responses. Some were afraid of the three day suspension on their record and what their parents would say.
When they got off the bus Katie checked in with her Mom and then ran over to Jenna’s house. Jenna put announcements on the B.U.L.L.Y. Blog and a couple of other sites she was on. Katie did the same. They pulled out the school directory when Mary came over and they started calling students on their cell phones and asking them to call their friends and let them know the walk out was happening.
That night Jenna had butterflies in her belly. She had not been this nervous in a long time. She prayed this would work out.; however, it could be a huge disaster. What if only she and her friends walked out? They would be suspended and the whole school would be laughing at them. She had to trust that everything would be okay. She tossed and turned until 2:00 AM trying to convince herself just that.
The next morning Jenna could not eat. She put a pop-tart in her backpack in case she got hungry before lunch. The seconds ticked away much slower than normal. Jenna was sure the school clocks were stopping here and there. She was convinced she was in first period for an hour and forty-five minutes instead of the normal hour. At lunch she did not eat much. Mary was a little nervous too. Katie was just fine.
At 12:55 PM the class was reading silently. None of the girls were actually reading as much as they tried to, their minds and eyes kept moving to the clock on the wall. It was torture. Never in all of history had it taken so long for a working clock to get from 12:55 to 1:00PM. A mere five minutes stretched out for hours of foot wiggling, nail biting, thumb twiddling, and sighs that became longer and more audible the closer the big hand got to the twelve.
Finally it was time!
Jenna’s heart somehow managed to jump up toward her throat. Her palms were sweaty and she felt a bit dizzy. She looked at Mary who gave her a nod.
Jenna stood up and walked out of the room. The hallway was quiet. She felt a bit panicky. She looked behind her and saw Mary and Katie walking out into the hall.
Jenna kept going. She walked out the backdoor and toward the track field, their meeting place. It was slightly uphill. She stood by the bleachers afraid to look back. Suddenly Katie was standing to her right and Mary to her left. Then she saw Mira and Kevin. At least her friends were there.
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