Mentor text: Courage by Bernard Waber

Some days in middle school go well. . . some days go right down the toilet. . . and you are crushed!  My best friends in elementary school suddenly turned on me like a avalanche racing down a mountain.  They wrote a note to me: Don’t talk to us. Don’t eat with us. We don’t want to be seen with you!!!

The note was signed by all five friends and passed to me on the way to lunch. I was crushed!  WHY? WHY? WHY?  I reached to the bathroom and I sobbed!  I stayed there all lunch period.  At home when I could think more clearly. . . I knew why.  I LOVED school. I wanted to be a teacher. . . I wanted to study. . . I wanted to learn all that I could.  They wanted to hang out at the corner and flirt with the high school boys, acting all silly and weird.

. . . so every day for two weeks, I went to the bathroom, locked in a stall. Folded my knees up so on one could see me, and I sobbed with a silent sadness that no one could really hear.  My heart was broken!

Then. . . I decided with some stored up courage from deep inside that five silly girls were not going to cripple me.  I walked to lunch that day with my head up. . . standing tall. I walked right past them, staring straight ahead.  I had to wait in line FOREVER!   . . . maybe I would change my mind and run back to my stall like prison cell. Breathe in and out. . . B R E A T H E!

Finally, with tray in hand, I sat down at a table by myself. . . a girl in my class named Judi came up and asked to sit down.  We ate. We talked.  We even laughed!  I don’t think she even knew of the drama. We became good friends. The other girls soon acted like nothing had ever happened. They didn’t know how much they hurt me.  I kept that note for some dumb reason. . . I burned it 25 years later when I told the story to my daughters.

It takes courage to do what you know is right. . . to be yourself and not try to please others. . . .it takes courage to change your group of friends to find out the ones that really believe and support you.


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