Lost in my thoughts I walked slowly through the mall. Remnants of Christmas still lingered in the store front windows, next to large sale signs. Unlike the weeks before Christmas the crowds of mall shoppers had diminished. However, tonight youthful noise bustled all around me. I noticed a few groups of challenged young adults casually strolled around shopping with PCA's. No doubt the mild weather and low crowds made for a pleasant evening out. I smiled to my self as I watched one group gather at the pet store window. Laughing, as they watched two playful puppies wrestle around. It reminded me of my Cody and Josiah when occasionally we ventured out to the mall stopping at the same pet shop. I envision momentarily Cody with his classroom, a group very similar. I continued on my way to my next stop, feeling very happy to have been able to see how much joy watching those puppies gave them.

Behind me as I walked to one end of the mall I could not help but over hear the giggling of a small group of teenage girls. At one point it was almost as if the girls were walking next to me. As I glanced over, I immediately discovered what they had found so entertaining. Held out in one young females hand was a cell phone. On the screen she had captured in video the young man that had been walking ahead of me. Pointing and laughing, the group of (little Barbie want to be's) followed him filming. Partially slumped forward and slightly limping he strolled along. Hopefully I prayed, he was unaware. I felt absolute sorrow that his difficulties were an amusement. Turning to the girl holding the cell phone I remarked her behavior along with her friends was absolutely cruel. Not to any surprise she retorted back "old bitch" and laughed. I know that at best I only managed to brake up their mean girl party momentarily. While the groups attention was diverted to me and what they had managed to capture on tape, I watched as he exited the mall.

As the girls walked past me giggling I wanted to say something more. The impact of what had happened hovered over me, moving me more than I wanted. I could not help but think, this was the same mall my Cody had visited with his special Living Skills class. It saddened me deeply that perhaps this was the welcome my own beautiful son and his friends may have experienced at some time. On many occasions Cody has preferred to stay home rather than venture out into the community. Desperately, I did not want this to be the reason. I did not want imagine that some how he had been subjected to bullying with out my or his teachers awareness. Both my sons have commented on the fact, they are very aware some people stare at times and it makes them a bit uncomfortable. Angered a bit at myself that I did not do more I left the mall. I knew that had it been my son I saw being victimized, I would have reacted much, much more.

I talked to my sons the next day about bullying. Cody very casually said "yep, sometimes people are just mean". "You just got to move away from them." Josiah simply told me he did not like mean people very much. I felt better that they did not have some deep hurt they were carrying around.

I wish I could have been more forward or found some way to humiliate those girls. I have to forgive myself for not being more courageous. It is my hope that I can grow from the courage I see in those suffering day to day, in a world that can be very unkind at times, and not so caring. I can embrace being called an old bitch, look out. On that note I now understand why Cody gave a Barbie he had gotten a hold of when he was young a haircut.

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Comment by Michelle Scaglione on January 2, 2012 at 3:55pm

Dont worry Rita what goes around, comes around.  Those girls shouldnt spit in the wind!  With any luck they will experience some pain of their own so they can reflect on their sickening behavior. 

Comment by Andrea Cleary on December 30, 2011 at 9:38pm

"I have to forgive myself for not being more courageous".

Rita, you drew the fire away from that boy, giving him the time to escape those nasty little tormentors, with his dignity intact. I call that an intelligent courage.You did not stoop to their low level. I am not sure I could have kept my cool like you.

And you can be proud that you have raised such caring and common sense children.

I gave a Barbie a haircut just a few years ago, and I was no kid! It felt GREAT! I even think the Barbie felt liberated too (she looked like the singer Pink).

Keep up the good fight, Rebel Rita!

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