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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today I have a confession to make.

It would be so much easier to do this if I were Catholic.
I'm not, so I can only imagine how it would be.
Rather than tossing and turning with the guilt I have been feeling
the last few days,
I would have just jumped in the car, gone to the church,
'fessed up to the Priest, done my time and felt completely absolved.

Gone. Poof.

But alas, I am not Catholic and yes, I get that I could pray
and ask for forgiveness and yada yada but somehow,
that just doesn't seem to cut it for me.

I just can't let it GO.

So, today you are my priests and this is my confession.
It's been 40 years and 7 months since my last confession.

Okay, all kidding aside, here we go.

One of my kids (who shall remain nameless)
came home from school last week and was really sad.
A couple of other children had something really hurtful
to him/her.
My child was sad and hurt;
in turn, I was absolutely FURIOUS with the other kids.

I did my best to comfort said child of mine
and in doing so, I told him/her:
"Those kids are just mean. They are mean kids
who are just being nasty.." etc etc.

Days later, that conversation is haunting me.

You see, in my small high school, in my sophomore or junior year,
a new kid came to our class.
Being that there were only 40 kids in my graduating class,
this was news.
But this kid named Doyle Grogan was different.
Really, really different.

Now, looking back on it, I would say with a great deal of certainty
that he fell somewhere on the autistic spectrum-
probably Aspergers.
I think he was probably very, very smart.

But as a kid, what I saw was someone who was disheveled and unkempt,
who kept to himself and muttered constantly aloud
and was completely odd.

Sadly, even in a Christian school, this made him a target.

To my knowledge, no one was physically mean to him
but really, I think we were meaner because we were emotionally mean.
We laughed at him, teased him and made fun of him.

To write that makes me feel awful.

Not surprisingly, after a year
Doyle Grogan was gone.
Maybe he moved, maybe we ran him out.

Looking back now, I am not sure why I behaved that way.
I don't think I am mean person.
What made me feel like it was okay to demean someone and find it funny?
Did that make me feel better about myself?
It might have then, perhaps, but it sure has backfired now.

So, I'm not sure that helped me feel better.
But, I do want to say this,
in a final attempt to absolve myself:

Doyle Grogan, if you are out there,
I am so sorry that I was mean to you
in high school.
You didn't deserve it
and I should have known better.


Michelle said...

Leeann - kids are mean. That's just how they are. What makes you different now is that you've realized what you have done and you're sorry for it.

I also went to a Christian school and when we got together a few years ago, we talked about how mean we were to each other and how mean we were to certain kids. We shed a ton of tears that day and it was cleansing. I hope that someday you can reach Doyle and let him know how you feel.

Hugs to you. :)

Anonymous said...

At my school Doyle Grogan was named Iva Karaman.

I just think all human beings all have a primitive hind brain that says something like different=bad, bad=potentially dangerous, fight or flight? Then the more evolved part of the brain has to tell the hind brain to calm down and that it's not a fight or flight situation. Sometimes it takes a while for the forebrain to kick in.

Melissa Simms

Anonymous said...


I remember Doyle too. I don't remember being mean to him specifically, I think I just ignored him. However, I sure was mean to a bunch of other kids myself (you'd probably remember them also if I mentioned them by name). I remember kids being mean to me, too. It's just a part of growing up.

I would tell my kid that those kids that make fun of him now will regret it when they grow up. If they don't, then they are heartless, souless and deserve to be pitied.

I know that wouldn't help him with his situation now, but it is a way of saying that this, too, will change. Life changes all the time. Sometimes you're the scumbag and sometimes you're the hero. Just try to be the hero and know that, in trying, plenty of people will call you a scumbag.

Kim L. said...

Kids can be mean, but frankly, I think it’s a cop-out for adults to write it off as something that all kids do. Kids can be taught from a young age that all people across communities are unique (appearance, intellect, socio-economic factors, athleticism, even personalities!) – and that people’s differences are never an excuse for being deliberately hurtful.
Hopefully this will be an isolated event for your child, Leeann. If not, then there’s an opportunity for him/her to learn to speak up and advocate for him/herself. That may have been something that Doyle was unable to do, due to his disability…. It’s also likely that the kids doing the hurting have been on the receiving end of considerable hurt themselves. This behavior is often about building themselves up by tearing others down.
Hugs to you and your family.

jen@odbt said...

Oh I dread the day my kids come home b/c they were teased for whatever reason. I'm constantly reminding them to treat others as they would like to be treated.

PS: As a Catholic, unfortunately guilt never seems to go away, even after a visit to the confessional.

Sarah R said...

From Kindergarten through 7th grade, Doyle Grogan was ME. It was an almost inconceivably painful experience. Instead of, like most kids, learning social skills and how to make friends, I learned how best to be invisible and that without exception "people" = "problems". I'm still trying to undo the damage done to me in those years. :)