The Mind of Anne

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November 3rd, 2017 The Dark Garage

Sweet Little Girl

Sweet Little Girl

There was a little girl who was 7 going on 8 years old. On a lovely summer day, she crossed the street to her best friend’s house to play. She was so happy in her play clothes – shorts and a T-shirt, bobbysocks and sneakers. It was so different from what she wore to school where girls had to wear dresses every day. It was summer. It was time to play.

The little girl crossed the street and her best friend’s house seemed unusually quiet. She was used to the constant banter with a little Italian mixed in. This fiery family loved each other fiercely. There were slamming doors and loud conversations. Their home was a fun and loving place to be. The little girl knocked on the door and was greeted with more silence. She was confused but figured they just weren’t home.

As she started to head home, the little girl noticed a neighborhood boy standing by the garage. She didn’t know him well. He was a friend of the older neighborhood kids and about 12 or 13 years old. He always seemed a little grouchy. He had diabetes and the other boys taunted him even though he was their friend. But he seemed nice right now. He told the little girl that her friend was in the backyard and he would show her how to cut through the garage to get back there. The little girl followed him into the dark garage.


Older Boy and the Garage

Older Boy and the Garage

That’s when things got scary for the little girl. As soon as she got in the garage, the older boy slid the door closed, plunging them into darkness. Then he grabbed her by the arm and pushed her onto a chair. While the little girl struggled, he tied her to the chair using jump ropes and whatever string he could find in the garage. He found colored chalk that the little girl and her best friend used to draw on the sidewalk and play hopscotch. He drew all over the little girl’s face and arms and legs over and over.

The older boy pressed down so hard with the chalk. She hated the feeling of his clammy hands on her face and arms and legs. The welts on the little girl’s face and arms and legs hurt. She was afraid of what the boy would do next. She was afraid he would never let her go. She was afraid to scream. She started to cry.

After what felt like hours, the boy untied the little girl, told her to quit being a baby and pushed her out the door. The little girl ran home as fast as she could. She was afraid to tell her mother. She was afraid the older boy would come after her. She was afraid she would get in trouble for following the boy into the garage.


Chalk and Welts

Chalk & Welts

But the little girl’s mother knew something had happened. The welts on the little girl’s face and arms and legs were red and angry. She questioned the little girl. In a fit of tears, the little girl told her mother what had happened. The little girl’s mother was angry. They were going to that boy’s house to confront him. The little girl cried because she didn’t want to see the boy. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

The little girl’s mother persisted. They marched down the street to the older boy’s house and knocked on the door. The boy’s mother answered the door and impatiently looked at the little girl as her mother revealed what the bad boy had done. Without a bit of empathy or remorse and ignoring the obvious welts all over the little girl’s face and arms and legs, the boy’s mother dismissed the issue saying her son’s sugar must have been off and quietly closed the door.

The little girl’s mother felt helpless. Obviously, the boy’s mother wasn’t going to do anything about her son’s behavior. That bad boy’s father was a big deal in town. The facts of the matter would be twisted and turned. There would be no justice for her little girl that day. They slowly walked home, cleaned up the little girl and went on with life.


Fargo - Season 3 Episode 10

Fargo – Season 3 Episode 10

This wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last time this little girl would feel injustice. Was it violence? Was it assault? What do you call an older boy overpowering a small girl? Was this gateway behavior that would escalate to sexual predation? Over 50 years later, these questions remain for the little girl and many like her. As a society, we need recognize how we continue to tolerate aggressive behavior. Parents need to work to raise sons who respect and value women and girls. And maybe men need to consider #HowIWillChange . Meaningful change starts in the home and in the heart. And the time for change is now.

Oh, and if you hadn’t guessed it by now, the little girl was me.

November 20th, 2015 I unfriended someone today. . .


Unfriend

Unfriend – The button I dread using

I felt compelled to unfriend someone on Facebook today. I’ve only done this two or three times ever so it is unsettling. I met this person just once through a mutual friend but we got along well so I thought we might become friends in real life.

I don’t agree with everything everyone posts and I’m sure people don’t agree with me all the time. I look at Facebook like a cocktail party. I try to keep my subjects light and avoid sex, politics and religion like my parents taught me to when at public functions. I primarily post original content or augment any memes with my own thoughts so my friends get a sense of me in my posts. Memes can be fun or clever but they are not a substitute for my thoughts.

So what did this person do to put me over the edge?

It’s been an especially sensitive time. Between the Syrian refugee crisis, the constant political banter and the ongoing terrorism worldwide culminated by the tragedy in Paris, I feel particularly emotional. I recognize that very few issues are absolutely black and white. And that’s the rub.

My “friend” copied/pasted/shared a number of extremely long tirades that were mean-spirited, venomous and filled with inaccurate characterizations – day after day after day. It didn’t matter whether I agreed or disagreed with any part of the posts, I didn’t want to see any of the posts because they were so full of hate.

The clever arguments that didn’t quite hold together for me made it worse. There were quotes taken out of context and actions twisted to the point where the actual intent or results were no longer recognizable. To me, the posts felt xenophobic, racist and full of hatred. They also felt like so much shortsighted rhetoric meant to polarize people.

The worst part of it is that I don’t actually know that my friend feels as strongly as the posts make it seem. A Hallmark card can’t possibly say exactly what you want to say to your mom or your sweetheart. And these tirades or memes written by armchair quarterback strangers can’t possibly represent your true thoughts and feelings with any degree of accuracy. It’s not all black and white. Yet they are so easy to copy/paste/share. My friend chose these strangers’ words over their own.

Another thing my parents taught me was to listen and learn from others. What the tirades and memes do is shut down communication. They form a monologue and prevent a dialogue. The message is: I am right and if you don’t agree, you are wrong. The comments often take a nasty turn for anyone who disagrees.

My method of forming an opinion entails pondering a number of viewpoints on an issue, making sure my research is accurate and thorough, working out the “what ifs” and then developing my own view, which may be a hybrid version all my own. This is something I have taught my own children: don’t let anyone do your thinking for you.

So there it is. My friend repeatedly expressed opinions using the canned thoughts of others and in such a vile way, I couldn’t stand it anymore and clicked – UNFRIEND. What happens if I ever see my friend in real life is yet to be seen but I know I’m going to wish I never saw those posts. I hope I always remember to think about how people might feel about me when they read what I write. Will you?