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Cruel Kids

18 February, 2004 (23:00) | Growing Up

Last Friday an episode of CBS’s Without a Trace aired. The story revolved around a group of kids who, though they didn’t intend it, drove another to an attempt at suicide through their actions. The boy, who was attempting to impress a girl, called another girl in the class a dog. In return, he was lured to a stable, convinced to strip, tied up, and then ridiculed and photographed.

For about an hour after the episode, I tossed and turned in bed, trying to go to sleep so I could wake up early. Sleep couldn’t come because the episode renewed my own guilt. I know what kind of person I am now, and I know what kind of person I used to be, and I wonder how or even if I’ve changed, matured, or learned anything.

When I was in fifth or sixth grade in Hebrew school, I wasn’t exactly a popular kid. There aren’t very many kids in a Hebrew school class, so I figure I was at the bottom of the food chain. I think I’m mentioning that because it’s an excuse for my actions, or even because it, in some small way, qualifies them and puts them in perspective. Regardless, I don’t think my popularity has much to do with the story.

In class one day, another boy stood up to answer a question, or perhaps to make a comment. I wish I could remember his name. I feel as though I should be even more guilty for forgetting his name than I should be for my actions. As he rose, I glanced down, staring at the orange seat of his chair. I’m not sure what I thought, but it was likely something in the vein of, “it would be really funny if I stuck a tack on his chair. Then when he jumps up, everyone will laugh, and he’ll be a little angry, but it’s only a tack. They do it all the time on TV.”

That’s what you call flawed logic. If I place a tack on his chair, it will stick in his ass. I didn’t have a tack anyway. So I substituted a pencil. A newly sharpened, full size pencil.

He sat down and in screams of pain immediately rose back up. I don’t remember if I was laughing or crying, and the rest of the experience is pretty much a blur. I remember being yelled at. I remember feeling terrible. I remember breaking into tears as I sat in the stairwell waiting for my ride. I remember going to his house a few days later and apologizing to him and his family. I remember he never came back to the school.

I don’t remember who told me, but the graphite tip of the pencil embedded itself into his butt. He spent nearly an hour in surgery getting it fully removed. He had to sit on one of those pillows for people who use large amounts of preparation H. He was ridiculed for it.

I know I didn’t intend any of it to happy. Not like that. For my mistake, my misdeed, my injury to his person, he was forced to suffer far more than I’d ever wish on anyone. I want to say it’s all because I was a stupid kid who watched too many cartoons, but I can’t blame TV, ignorance, or even age. I can’t even imagine how I could’ve done such a thing.

But I did. And I will wear the scars of it like an albatross around my neck.

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  • As cliched as it sounds, only situations like those can help us grow and mature into well-adjusted human beings. I’m sure he knows now that you didn’t mean to do it. I’m sure he’s forgiven you. I’ve forgiven the many, many people who taunted me all throughout grade school, and I still hold regrets for even the littlest things I did to people that may have hurt.

    Those who have no regrets are the scariest ones of all.

  • As cliched as it sounds, only situations like those can help us grow and mature into well-adjusted human beings. I’m sure he knows now that you didn’t mean to do it. I’m sure he’s forgiven you. I’ve forgiven the many, many people who taunted me all throughout grade school, and I still hold regrets for even the littlest things I did to people that may have hurt.

    Those who have no regrets are the scariest ones of all.

  • I’m preety sure he understands I didn’t mean anything. But my guilt isn’t just about my actions. For him, the images in his mind will be the searing pain, the surgery, and the weeks of ridicule while on that pillow. For me, I can barely remember who he was in the first place. It’s almost as if my memory has done him a diservice.

  • I’m preety sure he understands I didn’t mean anything. But my guilt isn’t just about my actions. For him, the images in his mind will be the searing pain, the surgery, and the weeks of ridicule while on that pillow. For me, I can barely remember who he was in the first place. It’s almost as if my memory has done him a diservice.

  • Wow. That’s sad. I do think you are a better person now– I mean, you made a stupid, spur-of-the-moment decision. Yes, it was wrong. But hopefully, he’s over it now and tells the story at parties and laughs at you. Have you thought about trying to find him and tell him how sorry you are, how you’ve changed? I don’t know. I think it was brave of you to post this.
    I saw that WaT episode too. I think it had a strong impact on everyone who watched it. I know it did on me.

  • Wow. That’s sad. I do think you are a better person now– I mean, you made a stupid, spur-of-the-moment decision. Yes, it was wrong. But hopefully, he’s over it now and tells the story at parties and laughs at you. Have you thought about trying to find him and tell him how sorry you are, how you’ve changed? I don’t know. I think it was brave of you to post this.
    I saw that WaT episode too. I think it had a strong impact on everyone who watched it. I know it did on me.

  • I don’t think finding him would be right. I can’t explain why, but I think it would just be uncomortable for him.

  • I don’t think finding him would be right. I can’t explain why, but I think it would just be uncomortable for him.

  • Yeah, it definitely has the potential to be weird.

  • Yeah, it definitely has the potential to be weird.