Okay, long explanation for the title of this piece is as follows:
Yesterday, the elementary school age child of a good friend of mine was submitted to a horrific attack by an older girl. The child was yanked around by her hair, shoved down in the dirt, scraped up, her glasses broken, and to top it off, the girl perpetrating the attack then pulled out a pair of scissors and tried to cut her hair off. The only provocation for this? The little girl is in gymnastics and has won several medals for her routines recently, things she's worked hard for and had brought in to school for show-and-tell. The older girl decided that meant my friend's daughter was a "show off" and had to be taken down a peg or two.
So she assaulted a younger girl, premeditated, without provocation, in front of the girl's siblings and teachers, and when called on her behavior, was utterly unapologetic. She submitted another child to something hideously traumatic, and yet believed she'd done nothing wrong. Now, the school took appropriate action, and has filed criminal charges in addition to suspending the child responsible for the attack, but what do criminal charges mean to a ten year old? Sure, her parents will face a fine and now she'll have to go to a different school, but doubtless their little bully has been insulated from the worst of the lesson she should be learning just because she's a kid, and kids do crazy things, right?
And that, more than anything else, set me off. I remember being that age. I remember the nasty things school kids did to each other, how the slightest thing that gave you joy might be enough to earn pummeling from someone else who couldn't stand to see you happy. I had very few friends in school while I was growing up. I remember the hurt, the abuse (mostly verbal) that I suffered at the hands of my nastier classmates. I wish someone would have stepped in for me and told me it gets better. My experiences left me bitter and distrustful and suspicious of overtures of friendship from others. It's something I still struggle with.
I don't want another little girl to suffer through the things I suffered, to be so anxious and so afraid of being hit with more abuse if she goes back to school that she loses her love of learning, to be afraid to compete at a sport she does well for being seen as showing off. That's wrong. That's bullying, and I won't stand for that sort of thing.
So I drew this for Sarah. She likes My Little Pony, and Star Trek Voyager, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She's into gymnastics, and she's learning how to draw. I've given her pointers here and there with her dad's permission and encouragement. She's a sweet, awesome, beautiful kid, and she deserves to feel good about herself, so this is for her. My one regret is it's really hard to replicate the MLP: Friendship is Magic look in traditional media (marker and crayon), but I tried. This is her personal pony, Sky Prancer. Her cutie mark is a pair of yellow ballet slippers tied with a purple bow. I will be laminating this and mailing it to her dad as a cheer up gift.
Bullying sucks. I know most of us have dealt with it at one time or another. Don't let it slide. Don't make excuses for bullies. And if for some reason you can't stop it, do what you can to help the bullied person rebuild their confidence and sense of self-worth, because nobody deserves to be treated that way. Stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.
If anyone else feels like doing art to cheer up a sweet kid who's been through some rough stuff, and more than deserves it, please feel free to participate. This is her pony, and her favorite animal is the cheetah. If anyone does, just drop a link here or contact me privately, and I'll make sure it gets to her dad so she can see it too.