Every day before I get on the bus, my mom always says to me, "Remember Who loves you, Sweet Pea." Sweet Pea is my nickname, 'cause I'm sweet, and my name is Paige.
I know God loves me, and I know my mom and dad love me too, but it doesn't make school much easier.
I just wish my classmates would see me for who I was, and I wish they didn't judge me by my looks. Yeah, I look a little bit different. I have Down Syndrome. But that doesn't mean I'm dumb.
I always sit by myself at the lunch table. It's almost like I'm invisible. But I know better, because I hear them talking about me and laughing at me as I walk down the halls and when they walk past my table.
The "R" word is the worst. I can't even make myself think it. I have to stop myself before I think the whole word or it sends shivers down my spine... Retar.... I hate it.
Do they think I'm deaf too? That I can't hear them? Or do they think I'm too stupid to know what they're saying? Do they think I don't know they're talking about me? Maybe they just think I don't have any feelings like they do. Or maybe they just like to be mean. They think it's cool, because the other kids laugh.
Sometimes at the end of the day there will be a note stuffed in a crack in my locker. I always hope itís a message from one of my few friends, but it never is. Obviously they think I can't read either. Have they noticed I'm in the regular classes just like them? It may take me a little bit longer to learn things and to do my assignments and take tests, but I'm doing the same work they are.
I wish they wouldn't make stereotypes and judge me before they know me.
It doesn't help that I'm a little bit over weight. They call me "Plushy Paige," or, "Porky Pig." Then they snort like a pig. I try to just walk away and ignore them, but it's hard.
Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," obviously was never bullied very much. 'Cause they do hurt. I try to guard my heart against the pain. Sometimes as I'm walking down the hall, I whisper to myself, "Remember Who loves you. Remember Who loves you." The only probably is it makes the kids laugh at me even more, 'cause I'm talking to myself.
Well, there's the bell. It's lunch time. Another day sitting alone, trying to ignore all the comments.
Someone's tapping on my shoulder. Oh great. It's a cheerleader. I'm sure she's going to make some mean comment. But I'll turn around anyway, I guess. Just to be nice.
"Hi. I'm Danielle, but you can call me Dani if you want. I noticed you normally sit by yourself at lunch. Would you like to sit with my friends and me today?"
Stunned, I nod my head and follow her to the table. They all look so nice, and they greet me. By name. My real name. Maybe the rest of the year won't be so bad after all.
And to think I thought she was going to say something mean. I guess stereotypes go both ways.
Fictional, but too many students today could tell similar stories about bullying in school.
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