Indian Prayer

Years ago when I was just a little tike, I had this plaque up on the entrance of the hallway going into my bedroom. It was an Indian Prayer. I always asked Mom to read it to me. And although I never fully understood what it meant, she explained it to me the best she can. She said, "Don't make fun of other kids because they may have a harder life than you do. So by walking in their moccasins, you can see what they go through." I still was kind of confused. I knew not to make fun of other kids, but I didn't get the whole concept of "walk in my shoes" type of thing. Give me credit, I was only around four years old or so. I nodded and went about my day. That plaque stayed up on the wall for a very long time, until one day I finally got it. I finally knew what it meant to walk in somebody else's "moccasins".  While I was in second grade, one of my friends in my homeroom class would make fun of me - about everything. We even had sleep overs, and yet we still fought. She made fun of me for wearing boy's clothes that my mom bought me grudgingly. It was then I retaliated and made fun of her because I knew she wore her sisters' hand me downs. I began to call her "poor" and how she couldn't afford new clothes. I was defending myself, but when I came home, I saw the plaque. This time, it spoke to me. I thought about the times I went to her house, a small house on a tiny dirt road. They got their food from their very own backyard. They had chicken coops to get their eggs as well as their own chicken. They had goats so they could have milk. There was no TV to watch and all four sisters slept in the same room with bunk beds lined up on each wall. I always crammed into the single bed with my friend when I stayed over. That day I read the plaque again with new eyes, I put myself in her shoes and I never made fun of her again. I felt bad for a very long time.

I'm not sure if kids truly understand what they're doing when they bully one another. Do they think of the aftereffects of all the insults and verbal abuse? Or do they think the other kid will just forget about it? As a kid, "defending myself" meant that there were no consequences or 'aftereffects' when I threw my insults back. "She did it first" was my rebuttal. It was justified and "right" in my eyes. But what I didn't understand was that this girl was a foster child living in a house full of other kids from parents who had abandoned them. I never understood the insecurities and self-loathing that went into feeling abandoned. I just didn't get it, until I kept reading the plaque. While we all grew up, moved out while things shuffled about and eventually got lost, I still haven't been able to find this plaque. This photo was taken from the internet, but it's the same exact plaque I had up on my wall. I wish I could find it because it made me who I am today.

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