“There’s this kid at school who is different and people always bother him,” Hannah told me on our morning drive to the bus stop.
“Like different how?” I asked.
“I dunno. Like he’ll sneak up behind you in the hall and scare you. And he doesn’t really talk much. I dunno…” she trailed off.
<imaginary question marks popping out of the top of my head>
“Mornings in the courtyard are getting so annoying because people won’t leave him alone. He likes to sit under the palm tree and save the ants and bugs and things. He builds them these little houses and tries to take care of them and then idiots just come up and step on them. They purposely taunt him until he reacts. So then he gets upset and chases them because, duh. But then the idiots turn it around on him and act like he’s crazy and they’re a victim,” she went on.
“Do you say anything?” I asked.
“Yeah Trista and I told them to leave him alone and that they could go be someplace else,” she said, getting worked up. “And the teachers tell them to get away from him, but don’t really do anything about it. This is how school shooters are born!” she exclaimed, her voice rising.
“Why do you think they pick on him?” I asked her, wanting to see what she thought.
“I guess people like to pick on the weak to make themselves feel stronger. Or maybe they need attention. They’re showing off. It’s SO ANNOYING!” Hannah sighed.
My heart broke for this kid, protector of the ants.
“Yes, people tend to pick on those who are different. They’re easy targets. I hope you stand up for him every chance you can. Maybe if they know someone is going to confront them when they harass him, they will be less likely to do it,” I said.
I realize we are at a fork in the road and wonder if I should call the principal. I play out different scenarios in my mind. Still cannot decide.
“I just don’t understand why people have to hurt other people for no reason,” she said. I like that she doesn’t understand this. I like that she questions this. I like that she chooses the path of growing toward the sun. I like her moxie.