( Intermediate level )
Jenny grew up in a small town in Iowa. She had lived with her grandparents from the age of four. Now, at 15 years old, Jenny wondered about her future. She dreamt of her future. Was she ever to get out of this little town?
The odds were against her. Her grandparents lived a modest farming life. As most farmers, they struggled from year to year. Barely making enough to pay the bills and having enough left, to tide them over, until the next planting season.
Her mother, Amy, was a struggling young and unwed teenager herself, when Jenny was born. Living in a small conservative community, she was met with much disapproval.
After Jenny was born, Amy left her small town to get a fresh start. Leaving the disappointment of her parents and community behind her. She knew her daughter would be just fine in her parents’ care.
One day, she hoped to return to reunite with Jenny. Hoping she understood why she had to leave her with her grandparents.
As for Jenny, she had her own struggles. Going to school took great effort. For most of her middle school and now in her high school years, Jenny was bullied.
Her grandparents did the best they could in raising her, but the extras they could not afford. They bought her clothes from the second hand store, in the center of town, or relied on donations from families, when their children had outgrown them.
Wearing second hand clothes never really bothered Jenny until she was made fun of one day in class in fifth grade. One of her classmates laughed and pointed at her saying that the dress used to be hers. She had recognized the stain on the collar and proceeded to say how that stain happened.
From that day forward, Jenny was the target for her classmates. Taking every chance they could to point out what she was wearing and whose clothes they might have belonged to.
Jenny would keep to herself, both at school and at home. She would spend hours in her small bedroom, just dreaming. Wishing things could be different.
Every Sunday, Jenny would help her grandfather with his daily farming chores. She helped tend to the animals, mend fencing and even helped in the fields.
She spent many hours with him and listened to his stories. Some were true and some, she knew, he made up just to see her reaction.
He asked her, one day, why she was spending so much time, alone and not out with friends. She, reluctantly, told him why. Jenny knew her grandparents worked very hard and were proud of what they have. She did not want to hurt his feelings but she told her story.
Her grandfather stood quiet for, what seemed to be forever, then looked down at her, smiled and said, “My dear Jenny, when people are unhappy ,with their own lives, they lash out at others. You showed a reaction, by visibly getting upset. This is what they look for. Somehow, they feel better about themselves when they make another miserable. Next time, try not to show them how upset or embarrassed you are. They will soon become bored and find the next person to intimidate.”
Jenny hugged her grandfather for understanding. He, always, knew the right words to say.
That evening, Jenny thought about her grandfather’s words. Wondering if it would make a difference. She knew how mean her classmates could be.
Summer vacation is coming soon. Another month to go and school would be out for three months. Jenny knew this last month would be long. She had to study for her finals and face her classmates.
Jenny realized this was the process of growing up. Finding yourself. Realizing what matters in life. She was not going to let others damper her dreams.
Since she had grown up around animals, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She needed to achieve the best grades she could.
With her grandparents not having a lot of money, she needed to get a scholarship to a university. This was her dream and she wanted to make it come true. No one would take away from her.
One thing she knew, be happy for what you have and not what you don’t have. Why should the opinions of others matter? Why do we need acceptance, from people, to be happy?
Jenny had loving grandparents, a warm, cozy home, and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy and loved.
Written by: Angel
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dream: images, thoughts
modest: one’s abilities, achievements, limited or small
conservative: traditional values
disapproval: unfavorable opinion
bully: a person who harms or intimidates those who are vulnerable
second-hand: already been owned or used
target: aim of an attack
chores: a routine task or job
miserable: unhappy or uncomfortable
intimidate: to make someone feel timid or fearful using words or actions
damper: influencing in a negative way
disappointment: sadness over an action
Question ( s ):
Have you ever been bullied or bullied another?
Do you think bullying is a real concern?
What advise would you give someone if they told you they were being bullied?