“You’re doing the right thing,” my mom said. “But you should know something before you go through with it.”
I was in the 6th grade and terrified of my math teacher, Mr. W—. A group of us had decided to go complain about him. We wanted him to stop calling us stupid and ignorant.
“What’s answer to number 5?”
“Are you stupid?”
“Gimme number 12.”
“You’re pathetic. Do we have any smart people in here?”
I thought name-calling was rude and we didn’t have to take it. So, I got a group of classmates to come with me to complain–Mr. W— calls us names, he shouts if we sharpen our pencils or are too slow turning in our folders, he slams our books shut on us or knocks them to the floor, he frightens us.
My mom looked at me. “If it is important to you and you believe what you’re doing, then you have my support,” she said. “But just know that when people say they’re behind you, you take a look back and you’ll find you’re alone on the hill.”
At the appointed time I stood in front of the 6th grade building waiting. When it was clear that no one else was coming, I trudged up to the office anyway. My step-sister was waiting for me at the counselor’s door. “Where is everybody?” N. asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You sure you want to do this? It’s not going to help.”
Our school counselor opened his office door. “You girls wanted to see me?” he asked with his wild curly hair and big grin. I went inside, and sighing my step-sister followed me.
Later, we were sitting in English class when the classroom door opened and another student came with a paper in her hand. Our English teacher looked at it. “Marta,” she said. “N. Mr. W– would like to see you. Do you know what this is about?”
Our classmates whispering behind us, N. and I shook our heads and left the room.
I tell more and more people I write and make art. Often I’m surprised by who cares and who doesn’t, who wants to know more and who changes the subject, who takes it seriously and who forgets. People you barely know may be more supportive than people you’ve known for years. You shouldn’t measure a person’s love this way, but it’s hard not to.
Have you ever been surprised by who supported you and who didn’t?