February 25, 2021

The power of kindness in high school

High school can be tough. If you have ever watched the movie Mean Girls then you know what a judgemental place it can be. If you haven’t watched that movie then you really should, it is funny no matter who you are. It is not just girls that are mean though, boys are too. High school is like a jungle and it can often feel like only the strong will survive. This causes children to turn on each other in a moment and to take advantage of any slip-up. High school can be a scary place.

It was certainly a scary place for Michael Todd. Todd came from a poor family who struggled to put food on the table and provide clothes for the entire family. Todd had one outfit that he used for school and wore it every day. It didn’t take the other children long to notice. Soon they started to mock him. These were not bad kids, they were acting in a jungle environment. Kill or be killed. They mocked him so that they could be part of the group that mocks, instead of the group that is being mocked. It is classic group behavior and something that should be watched out for in all school environments.

Todd wasn’t surprised by the way the other boys mocked him. He had been bullied at a young age. He sat in the school cafeteria alone and had no friends. Michael Todd knew exactly how the rest of his time in high school was going to play out. Except he didn’t. One day he went to school and two of the boys who had mocked him asked him to step outside. The boy was visibly afraid but he knew he had no choice. He walked out with the two bigger boys and tried his best to stare him down. They saw the fear in his eyes and felt nothing but shame.

Earlier they had realized how hurtful their words had been. They were not just friendly mocking attempts, they were bullies. Once they saw this they weren’t happy and sought a way to make it better. They went home and looked through all of the drawers of clothes. They found many extra pairs of pants and T-shirts to give to Todd so that he could have a change of clothes. When they asked him to step outside it was not so they could mock him or hurt him, it was so they could apologize. 

They told Todd that they were sorry for ever mocking him and handed him a bag full of clean clothes. While the clothes were second hand, Todd was delighted. It was the greatest, kindest gesture he had ever received and he immediately forgave the boys for their earlier treatment. When he looked inside the bag he got an even bigger surprise. There was a brand new pair of sneakers in the bag, waiting for Todd, in his size. Todd was nearly brought to tears but managed to hold them back.

The best part of this story is that Todd never even sat alone in the cafeteria again. From that day on the three boys became close friends and looked out for one another. While Todd had expected his time in high school to be bullying and ignorance, it was something else entirely. He found new friends and made great memories. There is a lesson in this. Clearly, we must look out for others who are in need. We must think before we speak and try to understand how our actions hurt others. However, there is a lesson for all the Michael Todd’s out there too. Don’t lose hope. You never know when your luck will change and things will start to fall into place.