Hailey has had a lot of battles in the last year and although she’s not ashamed of any of it her struggles are hers to share so I don’t really post details here. What I can say is that her struggles (like all of ours, in fact) are so much more common than we think. We all feel alone in our pain, and are so easily convinced of the terrible things our minds tell us. Add to that the fact that middle school kids can be real bastards sometimes. They’re finding themselves and sometimes they are racist, homophobic assholes. Sometimes they are shockingly abusive. Sometimes they are hurting and they lash out at others. Sometimes they don’t know the damage they are doing to others, or are just afraid to stand up against the crowd. And sometimes they’re just fuckers. This is a big part of why Hailey will be taking online classes next year rather than going back to public school and although we all know it’s the right choice (and Hailey is very excited about it) I worry about her not being able to explore her personality out in the world.
We decided to look into other activities that she can do, like volunteering or community theater and one of the things she wanted to do was this Rock camp that she got a partial scholarship for last year. I was really, really scared to let her go. She so much stronger than I am but she’s still fragile, and naive and far too trusting and easily hurt and I honestly didn’t want her to go but she was so sure she could do it.
So yesterday she flew to Kansas to attend camp. (KANSAS, y’all.) I got some nervous texts from her but mostly she was quiet and I was on edge and pretended I was totally fine but when my phone dinged at 2am I jumped out of bed certain I was going to have to fly to Kansas to get her.
But instead she texted that she couldn’t sleep because she was happy to have found such amazing people to learn from and learn with. She told me that she’d gotten on stage and sang Pi Jesu in front of everyone and got a standing ovation. She told me that her singing teacher loved the audition she sent in (that she worked on for so many hours she lost her voice) so much that she gave her a solo. She said that so many of the kids were so kind and supportive and weird but in a good way and that no one gave her shit for being too strange or too emotional or too gay. And I texted back that I wasn’t surprised because I think most people are awesome if given the chance but in real life I cried a bit in relief and I wanted to go out and hug every damn person who was kind to her and then send a giant box of free tacos to all those kids’ parents.
I’m not sure what my point here is but I just wanted to say that if you are a kid who is nice to other kids, you are important. You make a difference. Not just to the people you are around but to the friends and family of those you touch. If you are a parent who encourages kindness and acceptance in your kid then you are doing an amazing job. And I know it’s hard. No one is perfect. Not me. Not you. None of us. We keep learning and keep trying and we fail and excel and we create positivity (or negativity) that ripples out in extraordinary ways. And if you are a kid (or adult) struggling to find your place or to find kindness in the world, know that you are not alone and that you will find your people. I promise. They are out there. Kindness isn’t as loud as anger so it doesn’t get the same press but if you look for it you will find it eventually. And until then you can create it for others.
Please keep trying. Because yesterday a girl experienced kindness and acceptance in Kansas and it rippled all the way back to Texas where I’m passing it along to you all over the world. You make a difference. And it’s up to you what kind of difference that will be.
This morning this was on the instagram feed. Hailey is in the back row, second to the right. She has a giant smile on her face. It is the same one I have when I watch it. And maybe you internet aunts and uncles will have it too: