12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Unpopular One    

The Unpopular One

We never really know what’s going on inside a person, what stress or heartache they have in their life. All we see is the outer behavior, and that’s usually smiles…


Yesterday my son got punched in the stomach by a classmate. Ah, the joy of having boys.


I know, it’s no excuse. In reality, a boy has no more of a tendency to punch than a girl. Girls are just able to control it better. Wait. Let me rephrase. A boy has no more of a tendency to punch than an Iraqi girl. Since I’ve just offended all the Iraqi women, why not throw in the Moroccan woman as well? I get more for my money that way.


Actually, I was just referring to myself, ladies. Now put those fists away before you break a nail or someone’s head.


So I was home “working” and suddenly I heard someone walk through the door. I got a little bit nervous because no one else is home at that time. David is going to love reading what I just wrote because he’s always reminding me to lock the door and I’m always forgetting.


My oldest son walked over to me, crying and holding his hand over his stomach. “Someone punched me!” he cried in between his gasps for air. “WHAT?? WHO?!” My blood instantly got so hot that it broke the thermometer. “A boy in my class!”


“Well if you would have been learning Jiu Jitsu like your brothers, you could have beat him up back!” I yelled.


Did I really just say that?


What I meant to say was, “Oh, I’m so sorry! Tell me what happened as I make you a nice cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream.”




Of course I immediately did my parental duties and called the teacher and sent him a picture of the evidence, while demanding that full justice be carried out. Then, I went straight to the kid’s house and left a love note next to the front door. (Along with a chicken head drowning in ketchup.)


The teacher assured me he would take care of it, and I let it go at that.


The next day, the teacher told me that he had suspended the kid for a few days. I felt so much better, even though I knew that the kid would have to face his mother’s wrath for several days. Better than him facing my wrath, I figured.


We spoke about this kid, and the teacher said it was shocking what he did, because he’s a quiet, gentle kid. But then, he said something that threw me for a loop.


He said the kid doesn’t have many friends in class.


That just killed me.


Immediately, I felt so sorry for him.


It’s terrible, even torturous, to go to school every day knowing that most of the kids don’t like you. Believe me, I know. When I was in school, I was super unpopular. I had two good friends and that was it. I started a new school in third grade, and for whatever reason, the kids didn’t take a liking to me. Maybe it was my super cool mullet and unibrow. Didn’t they recognize good style when they saw it??


I grew up with this group all the way through high school. I was made fun of constantly, both by the girls and the boys. Even as I got older and became somewhat pretty, none of them wanted to be friends with me. All in all, school was a pretty horrible experience.


Unfortunately, this type of pain almost never goes away. We can bury it very deep and ignore it, but something will eventually trigger it and we’ll have to suffer with the painful realization that the wound is still there.


One of the character traits I’ve been trying to instill in my kids, especially my oldest son, is to be kind and sensitive to others’ feelings. We never really know what’s going on inside a person, what stress or heartache they have in their life. All we see is the outer behavior, and that’s usually smiles and “everything’s great!”


Parents, I urge you to make a consistent effort to teach your children to be kind to one another. Encourage them to make friends with the kid no one likes. Explain to them that they are literally saving that kid’s life from a life of gehinnom.


And as for the so-called adults, that goes for them too. They should stop being so wrapped up in their own troubles that they forget to treat another person with human decency. Only hypocrites say righteous things and then act like crude barbarians when dealing with others. It is disgusting, and a desecration of Hashem’s name.


The good news is that it’s easier to influence a child’s behavior when they’re still children. Because after, whoo boy! It’s like trying to influence the wall to move!


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