A few months ago,  I read a post on BlogHer where RedneckMommy told a sad story about the way her child was ignored by society.  Her slant was that he had the super-power of invisibility.  She said, in part:

My son has a superpower.
He is invisible.
Most disabled people are, you know
They are born with it, alongside twisted limbs or broken minds.
My son, he can’t walk, or talk, or eat
He can’t hear and he will never fly.  But
He is invisible.
You may not have seen him.  But he saw you
He smiled at you.  A smile
Bright as a ray of light shining through a cracked window.
He looked at you.

You didn’t see him.
Or you wouldn’t see him.

You should go read the whole thing.  It will tug at your heartstrings.  It will make you want to shake your fist toward the sky and say “What the hell is wrong with people?”

Or you can keep reading this post, because it might do the same thing.  See, this morning, I felt like RedneckMommy must have.  I felt hot tears burning my eyes as I witnessed the world overlooking my child, acting as if she wasn’t there.

Oh, look at Linda bringing the drama.  Yes, yes – I am a drama queen on this topic.  I always have been.  I’ve posted on the topic of my daughter who struggles with carrying extra weight a few times.  Here and here and here.  About how unsure I am regarding how I should be helping her with her with this.  About how much it hurt to hear other little girls call her fat.

I knew that as she got older, it would manifest in her social interactions more and more.  Now she’s 9 and I’m seeing it happen.  The discrimination is bolder.  The invisibility is more visible, if that makes sense.

Last week, she told me that during recess she walked over to the kickball field where they were picking teams to play a game.  There were two children chosen as team captains who were taking turns picking individuals for their teams.  Jadie stood there among the not-yet-picked.  She stood there until she was the last one standing there.  I know it hurts a child to be the last one picked, but Jadie can be tough enough to handle that.  I’m not so sure she was tough enough to handle the way the two team captains fought over who had to take her, though.

“You take her.”

“No, we have too many – you take her.”

“I picked last – it’s your turn.  You have to take her.”

My child turned and walked away without a word.

In the retelling, she tried to keep an air of bravado, but this child – she may act tough on the outside, but she has a creamy nougat center and I could tell that she was hurt by the exchange.

And now?  She tells me she doesn’t really like kickball anyway.

In that story, she might have wished for invisibility.

What happened today, I was a first hand witness to.

My two youngest wanted to sign up for the mini-cheer camp run by the high school cheerleaders.  Today was the big day.  I dropped them off at 8 AM and went to run a few errands.  I came back a couple hours later and sat on the bleachers watching the girls all learn how to cheer.  My two were divided into separate groups – kindergarten through second grade in one group, and then third through fifth grade in the other.

It was the group with the older girls that caught my interest.  I watched for a long time and couldn’t help but think that my child was deemed invisible out there.  I watched a half dozen high school cheerleaders being playful and friendly with the adorable little girls and not even one interacted with my daughter.

Oh, sure – she’s got some culpability here.  She might have been hanging back a little.  She might have been anxiously chewing on her nails.  But, see, that’s what you do when you’re too afraid to put yourself out there.  When just last week, two team captains fought over who had to take you on one of their teams.  When you’ve had experiences with other children where you were called fat and ugly to your face.  You tend to start pulling away.  You tend to not want to put yourself out there for fear of more rejection.

But she was there – she was present.  She was learning the cheers and trying to be a part of the group.

I watched as the high school girls instructed the group to form a circle because they were going to play a game.  I saw my daughter alone on one side of the circle while the other girls were clustered on the opposite side.  I heard the older girls tell the grade-schoolers to spread out and form a full circle.  I heard my daughter say “There’s plenty of room over here.” and indicate with her arms that she had space on both sides of her.  I watched how no one came over to fill those spaces until finally the high school girls did.

And then they played Little Sally Walker, a fun little game that girls often play.  There is a subset of girls who skip around the inner circle while a song is sung.  When the end of the verse arrives, the girls in the inner circle each stop in front of a girl of their choosing from the outer circle and do a little dance.  The girl from the outer circle who was chosen now gets a turn skipping around the inner circle, and so it continues.

There were many rounds of the song and many girls got their turns skipping around the inner circle, some got multiple turns.

But not all of them.  Some of them didn’t even get one.

Some of them were invisible.  Some waited for their turns while they chewed nervously on their fingernails.

Or, more accurately – one.  One girl waited anxiously for her turn while she chewed nervously on her fingernails.

My child.  She was invisible today and I sat on the bleachers swiping away the tears that kept forming without my permission.

I silently implored the high school girls to notice what was going on – to correct the situation.  No one did, and the game ended.

At the end of the camp session, each of the groups put on a little performance for the parents.  Cameras flashed and parents clapped wildly.  The high school girls were looking up at the clock with the realization that they had 10 minutes to fill before they could go to Taco Bell or wherever they were planning to go.

The decision was made to play Little Sally Walker again, because the girls love it so much.

Well, most of them.

This time, it was both groups of girls forming a huge circle.  There were at least a dozen girls skipping around the inner-circle.

If I were a religious person, I would have lifted my voice in prayer to whatever god I believed in and asked him to please, please let my child be picked once.  I don’t know much about prayer, but it seems such an inconsequential thing to pray for, right?  “Dear God, please make this pimple on my chin go away before prom.”  I don’t know.  Prayer seems to be for things like intensive-care-unit patients and lumps found on breasts and stuff.

But my prayer (sent up to whom, I don’t know) was just that my child get a turn in Little Sally Walker.

It didn’t seem like too much to ask, really.

Frankly, though, I am not a religious person and I don’t believe there is a higher power who could intercede on this hard road my little girl is traveling.  I believe that it is down to us human beings here on this earth to regulate ourselves.  I believed that the only way my child would get chosen for Little Sally Walker would be because someone noticed that she wasn’t invisible and realized that she may want to participate in the game.

One of the high school girls did just that – she stopped in front of Jadyn and did her little dance, thus choosing my baby girl to have a turn skipping around the inner circle.  From across the gym, I saw my daughter’s face light up.

I’m glad it happened.  I’m glad for Jadie that she was drawn in, even if it was just for a minute.  Maybe next time the cheerleaders are having a mini-cheer camp, my child will want to sign up again.  Maybe she’ll gather her courage and go back to the kickball field.  Maybe.

I am grateful to that girl for noticing my child.  It’s not enough, though – one person, one time, one minute.  It’s just not enough. I know that for Jadie to keep putting herself out there, she needs to have people include her and notice her and accept her.  She needs more of these experiences that light up her face – they have to outnumber the other kind, the kind that make her put up walls and pull away.

I don’t believe there is a god who will help us with this.  I believe it’s up to us – to you, to me, to your kids, to my kids, to teachers, to playground monitors, to camp counselors, to Girl Scout leaders and bus drivers and cheerleaders.

Will you accept the challenge?  Will you keep an eye out for the child hanging back biting her nails and notice her and choose her?  Will you look at and smile at the little boy in the wheelchair with drool coming out of his mouth?  Will you teach your children to do the same?


For me?  For her?

EDITED TO ADD:  I wrote a bit  a follow up at the end of THIS post, if you want to go read it.   Thank you all for your comments.

53 Comments on Little Sally Walker

  1. That last photo… was the girl n your story?? She’s beautiful! My imagination drew her as much rounder, more homely, my hert broke for her. But this little girl, this beautiful child is the same one from the story? Please let her know it happens to EVERY one at some point or another, for ANY one of their faults. Please please just keep encouraging her to get out there. Maybe something like girl scouts would help?

    • JustLinda says:

      Oh, she’s gorgeous, especially when she’s all fancied up for photographs. No doubt. I’m not sure she believes that, but she truly is.

      And she’ll make her way. I know she will. I just hope that along the path, she doesn’t get too disillusioned with herself or others. Sometimes, it’s like I can see her building a wall to protect herself, brick by brick.

      But I must admit that I don’t see clearly on this issue.

      She is actively involved in Girl Scouts and goes to camp each summer. She’s also in karate and just belt-tested a few weeks ago for the first time. She had been avoiding it, saying she didn’t want to belt-test. She was so proud of herself earning that yellow belt – I think activities like that where she is her own person, rather than needing to count upon inclusion by others, are good for her. A mix of both, I suppose, because she is a good athlete…

      I’m feeling better now, and it’s possible that she has already forgotten all about the events of the morning. She’s been sledding and building snowmen all afternoon. <3

      I actually hope this is more of a mommy-issue than a child-issue. I hope it all rolls off her back.

    • Janine says:

      Tell your daughter it is hard but she will not always be invisible. I have been overweight my entire life. I was picked last, ignored and tormented. It is hard and it is painful…but I found people who accepted me and stuck with them. I told myself I could do it…just remind her how beautiful and capable she is (and that the bratty girls always get theirs ;-) )

      • Erin says:

        This. I was also the fat kid who was picked last, even by my so-called friends. I learned to find real friends, among the other last-picks. I was teased and tormented by boys and girls up until high school. I was still fat, but the kids seemed to be better at hiding their contempt. And I was also a great swimmer, despite my girth, so I lettered in swimming. I never looked at being fat as limiting to me, but I sure knew that others did. Keep telling her how capable she is and how wonderful. I’m still fat, but I’m happy and I have great friends now who don’t see that as a bad thing.

  2. Ohhh I know this pain. From both sides. ((hugs)) to you and to your beautiful Jadie.

  3. gingersquints says:

    I know you said that you aren’t religious, but I am. The times when I have lost the most weight and felt the most beautiful are when I stopped thinking about food– stopped giving it power to control my thinking, self-image, and actions. I thought I was doing well when I counted my veggie servings and kept away from carbs, but actually my weight fell off when I stopped thinking I needed 3 square meals a day. I ate when convenient and didn’t let my body boss me around by telling when and what to eat. I put my body out of thought, like it says in the Bible. Anyway, here’s an article that does a much better job of explaining what I’m trying to say: http://www.spirituality.com/ar.....for%20food

  4. Thank you for an inspiring story. I am sitting in the library with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing. I wish more parents and siblings would write/blog about their struggles. Sometimes, I wonder if it is hardest for the mom.

  5. I was almost always last chosen in team sports. I was the tall and thin but still, invisible. I wanted to be even more invisible so I could blend into the walls and avoid all of that and even to this day the thought of a teacher saying “Pair up, everyone” makes my stomach hurt and my heart race.

    She’ll find her spot in life and one day this will all be a memory. It’s a painful one to go through and to witness but it grows a type of compassion and empathy that will likely stay with her forever. Just lover her and support her unfailingly and she will find the place where she blooms.


  6. Yuan says:

    I used to be t

  7. Tam says:

    This won’t last forever, but the memories will. It is HARD being a parent, and it is HARD being a kid. My heart aches for her, and for you.

    I’ll accept the challenge. Thank you.

  8. Veronica says:

    I was always picked last in school teams, I was the weird kid, the daughter of the hippies living in the middle of an ultra conservative town. Reading this made my heart hurt, because I rememebr being the weird kid, the geeky kid, the strange one.

    Now, my daughter has aspergers and a connective tissue disorder that maybe isn’t going to be a problem at 4, but will be when she’s 10 and my heart aches for her, because that path, it’s not an easy one.

  9. kateanon says:

    I was picked last and sometimes sat alone at lunch. I was the nerdy young kid who skipped ahead. Then, I gained weight when I gained boobs and while I wasn’t THE big girl, I was not the size 0 norm at my school. She’ll find a way to not be invisible. It may take her a while. Maybe it’s making others laugh or showing off skills in a non-athletic way. Kids are cruel, especially girls, but don’t let her dwell on it. Make her feel OK with herself and she’ll figure the rest out. It may sometimes be painful, but growing up always is. The girls who grow up easy (if they exist) grow up without knowing what life is like, and are ill-prepared for life as an adult. You can protect her from a lot of things, but you can’t protect her from this.

  10. Robin says:

    Your daughter really is a beauty. And gutsy for putting herself out there. Even if she happened to be “much rounder, more homely” … the way she was treated still wouldn’t be right.

    I was the round, homely kid. Also much taller than everyone else, and I hit puberty early. Indeed, it sucked, and I often felt invisible, which was a blessing compared to the times when I was noticed. I was so lucky, though, because I had adults in my life who encouraged my talents. You’re definitely doing that for her, and that will make all the difference.

    I hope you talked to the organizers of the cheer clinic about how the older girls behaved. I’m co-leader of my daughter’s Daisy Scout troop. If any of our volunteers were ignoring a child – and it does happen – I’d be all over them. It’s not acceptable. This could be an excellent learning experience for the older girls on how to teach, and how to treat others.

    I’m still the roundest of my friends. And it’s okay. There are so many people out there who are loving and accepting. If I were to tell your daughter one thing, it would be to never settle for anyone who doesn’t accept her as she is. She deserve that. Everyone does, no matter how round or homely.

  11. Cindra says:

    Linked here from TheBloggess’ Twitter.

    That’s my superpower. Has been for as long as I can remember – to the point where I can now become invisible without even trying. It’s like a default setting. I’ve been tall and normal-height, skinny and chubby, sweet and tough, but always invisible.

    Thank you for writing this. I do look for that little girl. I believe in God (it’s cool that you don’t, just part of my personal story) and He melted my heart to look for the other invisibles. Because now I’m an adult and seem like a cool person who has things together, and because sometimes I still walk into rooms and wonder who will see me.

    She sounds like a great girl. It takes a special kind of courage to feel invisible and keep going out there anyway – keep going to kickball, cheerleading, karate, whatever. The same thing, new things. I wish you could give her a huge hug for me. It does get easier. More and more she’ll find her place, and it’ll become invisible moments that remind her of how far she’s come, and not an invisible cloak she feels like she wears and can’t get off.

    My love to you both, and to all the other Superheroes out there.

  12. Pam says:

    I have a favor to ask. As a parent trying to teach my daughter just what you asked, and if you haven’t already, if there is any way for you to thank that high school girl for her kindness and her time, please do.

    You have no idea how much that thank you does and means when it comes to reinforcing lessons being taught. Kids don’t get to hear thank you very much, what with their general lunacy and all. But when someone takes the time to explain the impact of their simple kindness – it’s down right magical to see.

    Your Jadie is beautiful. You tell her the Internet said so. :)

  13. The Sweetest says:

    When are teachers and coaches going to learn how to initiate an activity without a popularity contest? Because that’s what picking teams is. As a child I always dreaded this. Waiting, longing to be picked. I can only imagine how painful it was for my mother each time I was shunned by the popular girls. Thank you for sharing this and for reminding us that all kids need our love and attention. I hope that we can all teach our kids to feel empathy and not to exclude others.

  14. Lorren says:

    Her happiness is going to be more perfect than any size she could be.

    I want you to know that I see her. She’s beautiful. I’m fairly certain all the commenters of this blog think so too. If she can look in the mirror and see herself as she is, then she’ll be fine. From what you’ve said about her, it seems that’s going to be the case. You have an amazing daughter there, I wish I’d realised the same thing as early on as she clearly has. It’s wonderful.

  15. Honestly, I was always picked first. I’ve had an easy life and most things have come to me easily. Having said that, I grew up with a disfigured brother and I’ve seem up close and personal how people avoid what they can’t deal with.

    I like to think that I’m that one girl, the one who notices. I doubt that’s always true but I hope so.

    I’m sorry for the pain…I have a son who had issues and it’s hard not to want to beat the shit out of other kids and their parents.

    Good luck

  16. Wen Baragrey says:

    I was that little girl too, and I know how it feels. But you know what? Little girls like that grow up to be the ones who learn how to be themselves and not give a damn what anyone else thinks, who speak their mind, who do what they want with their lives. They’re the most inventive, original, creative, because they’ve HAD to think for themselves and rely on themselves.

    If you look at 9 out of 10 of the most creative people in this world, you can bet they were called ‘freak’ when they were kids, or were just plain invisible.

    We might not all end up being Lady Gaga, but we do become better people. I’m proud of who I became after years of being the small, shy, knock-kneed kid who didn’t get picked and more years of being the teen with the odd dress sense who spent most of her time in a dream world. Once you’re an adult, the qualities that made you invisible or a freak, make you interesting and admirable. They made me and artist and a writer. I’m grateful for every jibe I ever took because they make me so much better at what I am now.

    Please, tell her from me, it does get better.

  17. Bonnie says:

    I accept your challenge! I honor you and your daughter for you courage.

    Thanks so much for this post -


  18. Molly says:

    I am so glad you made this point. I volunteered with children all through high school, and just wanted to say, for the record, I always made sure everyone was included. When I graduated, I made sure to remind those taking my place to do the same. I was an awkward kid, and I know how it feels. Jadie is beautiful, and I love how positive you guys are with her.

  19. Meagan says:

    Also linked here from The Bloggess’s Twitter.

    I am your Jadie. I’m 25 now, but the names I was taunted with still haunt me to this day, & it’s been over a decade since I last heard them. I was your average girl. I began gaining weight in my 2nd grade year. In fact, if you held my 1st & 2nd grade pictures side by side, there’s a marked difference in how I look in both of them. On top of that, I kept gaining weight. I was that quiet, shy girl. I was perceived as nerdy because I had my head always stuck in books. I was never the athletic one, & always was picked last. I am hearing impaired, & I “talk” with my hands (sign language). I never fit in. The “hearing” people thought I was dumb, & the “deafies” thought I didn’t belong because I could speak & sing & I wasn’t like them.

    It doesn’t get easier, but once she surrounds herself with friends who genuinely don’t care how she looks or what she wears, she’ll be okay. As long as you stick up for her (like my parents did whenever possible), she’ll be okay. If any of them tease her with awful names, well… Those scars will take time to fade. She’ll still be okay. Keep letting her do things that let her shine.

    Your Jadie is absolutely beautiful. Don’t ever let her forget it. :)

  20. Brandee says:

    This goes hand in hand with kids that are bullied. It’s so hard to be the one that stands against the crowd…whether you stand voluntarily or not. I felt that I was sitting right beside you, with tears of rage, injustice and sympathy for your beautiful daughter streaming down my face as I read this.

    I am blessed with two average, blend in with the crowd type kids…but, they both have the instinct to step in and include those left out. I am a proud mom when I hear of this.

    I would be honored to share this.

  21. anthonynlee says:

    wow. thank you for opening up and sharing this story. we seem to have some in common. i don’t believe in god, and i am also a parent.
    when i was a child, my family was poor. i was a scrawny little kid, but that isn’t what drew the ill attention of bullies to me. it was my ragged appearance, as all of my clothing were hand me downs. i was always last picked, and always first picked on. i had no friends, and distinctly remember carefully studying the ramifications in my mind of suffocating myself. luckily, it isn’t so easy to do with nothing more than a blanket.
    i was treated so poorly, that i remember taking my opportunity at times to exact my revenge on those kids that were even smaller than me. it didn’t happen often, but i still feel wretched about it.
    so, when i had a child, i vowed that i would do everything i could to help her avoid the same fate. regardless of whether it is within my means, i provide everything i feel that a child my daughters age should have. aside from that, i enrolled her in kung fu. martial arts does AMAZING things for self esteem, as well as teaching self discipline. she made a friend or two in that class too, which was wonderful…but the important thing was that she was doing something she knew she was good at, and could be proud of. we traveled all over the place (once, 3 and a half hours a way JUST to be there for an hour) for her to receive the honors of a new sash (equivalent to a karate belt).
    well…i enjoyed your story. i am certain that your daughter will be fine though. all of the portly young ladies i grew up with either became devastatingly beautiful, or insanely intelligent…either way, their new traits given them with maturity has served them well.

  22. Betty Fokker says:

    I was that little girl once. Now I am successful, happy, in a loving marriage with three beautiful daughters. I am fat. Please read Susan Bordo’s unbearable weight and tell your daughter about it because knowing that it’s WRONG that others judge you for being overweight will help her not judge herself. Please show her the website http://www.fatnutritionist.com/ so she can learn that the culture “saying” she has a few extra pounds because she lazy and gluttonous is a LIE. I battle socio-cultural fat-hate frequently on my blog, but it uses VERY bad words so don’t let her see it … but it does have links to things that might help you fight the discrimination she faces. As both that former girl and now a mother, I hurt for you both. :cry:

  23. eldergeek says:

    I was a painfully shy child with no social skills. I had a learning disability at a time when nobody had ever heard of learning disabilities. Teachers constantly told me, and my parents, that I simply wasn’t trying hard enough and I sucked at all sports. Tell your daughter that it’s useless to get mad. Grow up and get even. Tell her it gets better and let her know that she is and will always be loved.

  24. I’m crying now remembering the time, when my daughter was nine, and I marched her back into dance class, fighting the tears, to tell her teacher that two of the kids had called her fat. I remember how she’d been ashamed to tell me what happened, even though I could tell something did, like it was HER fault those little beast children would be so cruel. I remember thinking, “I have to show her that she has a right to expect to be treated with respect and kindness.” Luckily for the both of us, her dance teacher was a wise and kind woman who told my daughter that she was beautiful and the great thing about people was they came in all shapes and sizes and that’s what made us special. I’m pretty sure she also spoke to the other moms, as it never happened again.

    Unfortunately, she’s 13 now and I can’t fight every battle for her. But I can tell her all the time how incredible she is and how beautiful she is. I teach her to always be kind to others and to expect the respect she deserves. She starts high school next year and these years will be the hardest, I know.

    Your daughter is beautiful. I hope she experiences more kindness and that she’ll continue to put herself out there.

  25. I cannot believe that they still break teams up in that way! It SUCKS to do it like that and how awful for the last kid! I should know, I was often the last kid picked b/c I have the natural athletic ability of a semicolon, and no one wanted me on their team. I remember thinking that I was invisible, something that still comes in handy at times.

    Your Jadie IS beautiful and I hope that she knows that. It sounds like she is a neat kid all around too which makes this so much harder to read. Hang in there mama. And to Jadie: Life gets SO MUCH BETTER once you get past all this crazy popularity crap. You’ll find your place and find the people who will adore you. And imagine all of us doing a Little Sally Walker gig all around you.

  26. marie says:

    Wow. this moved me to tears. I was that little girl too. It took me a long time to realize I could see and people could see me. Life and it’s events have a habit of becoming pretty disorted after years of feeling invisible. best wishes to you and your family. I love your work.

  27. Michael says:

    Wow. Overwhelmed with emotions. Beautiful writing. Wish the content were unnecessary.

    My heart goes out to you both.

  28. Oh Linda. I was that little girl too — not because of my weight, but because I have no athletic ability and my parents couldn’t buy us fancy clothes.

    And now I’m a mom, and wow.

    My heart ached knowing how your daughter must feel, but I know that she will grow up to be one of those kind people you ask us to be.

  29. The heartbreak I faced as a kid who could stand to lose 10-15 pounds is nothing in comparison to the heartbreak I face now, watching my daughter struggle with being the biggest girl in her grade.

    Thank you for your story. It is very appreciated.

  30. Caitlin says:

    Linda, I don’t know where you live, but maybe you could look into improv classes for your daughter? I have to admit I was never picked last, and usually had someone in class to pair up with for assignments or projects, but I was still pretty shy. I tended to not talk much in group situations. Improv helped me immensely. It taught me that every idea someone brings to the table is valuable, to put myself out there, and to, frankly, laugh at fear. You have a lovely daughter, and maybe improv could be beneficial to her like it was to me? I can also guarantee that any good improv teacher will make sure everyone is included, and valued. “That” is at the heart of improvisation.

  31. Laura says:

    I, too, was always chosen last…tall and thin…called Olive Oyl, for my thinnnes,or Medusa for my wild curling hair. Grade school and junior high were awful, I rarely had more than one friend at a time.

    I can’t say I enjoyed it, but it did make me more compassionate, more aware. My daughter is the same, sometimes. Sometimes, for no reason I can discern, she is the invisible one, and it breaks my heart.

    Thank you for writing this. I can only hope that group leaders and teachers and coaches will take note and find ways to encourage kids to include all the children without singling him or her out and thus leading to further exclusion.

  32. Also sent here via link from TheBloggess.

    I’m in tears for your sweet little girl and you’re going to hear this a lot in these comments but I was invisible as well. I was chubby, shy and would on many occasions come home from school crying because I wanted to be accepted so badly and never was. I’ll be honest…I’m not going to pretend that I grew up to be a model with a high paying job and a ton of money in the bank, I’m still mostly invisible.

    But, I’m happy, I have amazing friends and a husband that loves me with out condition. I am strong, out spoken, opinionated and still chubby.

    My heart breaks for Jadie, but she is going to be an amazing adult and somewhere down the road all the isolation she felt won’t matter because she’ll know that it’s that, that made her so amazing.

  33. Sidney says:

    At a small school I attended, the sixth grade would play volleyball against the seventh grade for phys ed. So I was ON a TEAM by default. To say my athletic skills left something to be desired is a gross understatement.

    But one v-ball game, my mother came into the gym to pick me up for a dentist appointment. I was SO relieved I didn’t have to fail any longer on the court, that I would rather visit the DENTIST!

    The referee / teacher ran up to my mother and tongue-in-cheekly said, “Thank God you’re here. Please, get her out of here!”

    Everyone laughed, including Mom and me, but I still remember that teacher’s comment.

  34. Terry says:

    This hurt to read. I’ve sooo been there.

    I do think the snubbings of my childhood and adolescence have made me a stronger, more sensitive person…and I get a perverse pleasure out of exceeding people’s expectations…!

    Still, I don’t wish this kind of experience on anyone.

  35. Daisy says:

    Linked here from The Bloggess’ twitter.

    Your daughter is beautiful. And she looks and sounds sweet and kind. The kind of child who would NEVER ostracize anyone, even unknowingly. I think that is so valuable in a person. Her empathy and her ability to make other people feel wanted and loved will be treasured in future – I only wish it were now.
    Don’t we all wish we could go back in time and give our child-selves a dose of our hindsight?

  36. Debra (wcdwmndeb) says:

    Linked here from the Bloggess’ twitter.

    Your daughter is stunning. Your story instantly broke my heart and reminded me of my childhood. I was always last, always heavier then everyone else, and always made fun of. She is going to grow up strong, beautiful, and with a kind heart.

  37. MzM says:

    Very touching story! I am hopeful that she is just going through a shy or insecure phase. She sounds like an awesome girl and hopefully that cloak of invisibility will fall off soon and other people will see it too. Keep filling her with positive affirmations & reaffirming how amazing she is and maybe she’ll start to see herself that way too! Unfortunately those feelings of insecurity never completely leave us (women) but she’s much too young to think herself anything other than fabulous!

  38. subWOW says:

    That was me. I hated dodge call. Absolutely hated it. I was the one left last whenever teams were chosen and yes the team captains always fought over NOT to take me on, and they scowled if the teacher made them. I did not even grow up in this country and I had the same experience. My heart goes out to you and your daughters. I was holding my breath when you were talking about the one prayer, the one thing you’d ask. SO relieved when that angel of a high schooler showed up in the story. I DO always watch out for those that are left out in a group situation. And I hope even with my sucky parenting style I could at least instill in my own children the “strength” it takes to reach out to those who just need a little kindness. {{{hugs}}} to you and your beautiful children.

  39. Pipbest says:

    Yes (via The Blogess) this moved me to tears too. Very young, I remember my mum being told at ballet class I couldn’t be in the Nutcracker because I was too big – a moment that has stayed with me. I was plump and picked last for sports, but also mocked for being clever, so i learnt how to hide that. As a teenager, I remember framing a ‘positive’ in that if boys liked me, I knew it couldn’t be for the ‘wrong reasons’ as surely they wouldn’t find me physically attractive. But now I know better about all these things – I’m still overweight but I definitely have my beautiful days. I know it has made me a more compassionate and empathetic person because I wouldn’t do that to anyone else – I know to help the child or adult on the outside. And I don’t hide my intelligence any more. In fact I am grateful every day for a joyful life – handsome kind husband, 2 beautiful children, stimulating and exciting work, amazing friends, and a home in a wonderful part of the world. All of these things I wish for your daughter – and my own. I remember the cruelty of girls and fear it – but like many of those responding above, I know that those days pass and make us stronger and better women who can surround ourselves with love and share that with others – whether they were the ‘popular’ or ‘unpopular’ kids, all of us have struggled in some way. Thank you for this inspiring and thought-provoking post. You are a wonderful mum and your daughter will get all that you wish for her, I know my loving mum and dad made all the difference to me.

  40. Cheryl S. says:

    So many of us were that little girl. I know I was. Glasses, too smart, buck teeth, uncoordinated. I stood in the back of the baseball field and prayed for it to be over.

    But, I made it through. And your gorgeous daughter will too. She has a great mommy looking out for her.

    I have already started teaching my daughter (blonde hair, blue eyes, picture perfect child) that everyone is different and that’s OK. I pray I do a good enough job that she does not turn out like those mean girls I knew it school.

  41. [...] have been overwhelmed, and quite pleased, at the response to my recent post, Little Sally Walker.  Well, pleased probably isn’t the right word – so many of your comments have brought [...]

  42. Miss M says:

    Kids can suck. I am so sorry that your daughter is going through a tough time. However, kids who have those social struggles end up being the most fun adults. Tell her to hang in there, life gets better… it did for me xo
    ~ Miss M

  43. {{{{HUGS}}}} Thank you for sharing this with us to start with. I’m so glad that your daughter took that step of participating to start with, so many kids who feel invisible stop participating if it happens enough sadly.

    This is one of those things I really have tried to teach my son his entire life. Do not judge a book by its cover, do not be fearful because someone is different, do not shun people because something makes you uncomfortable. We (the world) are all different and we need to give each other a chance always. I’m happy to say I’ve witnessed him purposefully taking a chance with other kids that his peers have shyed away from even. My son has his own issues and I think it really helps him to realize that we never know the story about a person unless we take a chance.

    You will hang on to that mental picture of her face lighting up that moment forever I am sure!

  44. Lisa Stone says:

    What a beautiful post. You’re an amazing mother Linda. xo L

  45. Susan says:

    I think your girl is beautiful and it makes me sad that’s she been left out. We all tend to think that being a kid is such a fun and easy time in life when in truth it’s not that way for a lot of kids.

    Your daughter is very lucky to have a mom who loves her so much. I know that with your love and guidance she will grow up to not only love other people but to love herself as well.

  46. It is awful to suffer at the hands of the bullies. As a mom it terrible to watch my own children suffer through it too. There should be more kindness and compassion in the world.

    I was bullied about my two front teeth, I drew this cartoon about it http://www.theanimatedwoman.com/2010/12/bully.html

  47. Betsey says:

    A few good friends make all the difference in the world. Much love to you guys.

  48. I was always the last chosen for sports, too. I was abnormally short, and although my abnormally-short best friend and I were the terrors of the tetherball court my family were not ‘sporty’ people so I didn’t know how to play any of the other games. It got a lot worse when my parents took us out of school to travel for several years, so when I came back I was not only invisible, I was weird.

    But now I am a crusty old 50-year-old, a long-time professional advocate for abused children, and I have shamed the cruel kids I grew up with by becoming expert at the profession I love beyond all others, fiction. And one evening in my early twenties I happened to run into one of the ‘popular’ athletes from my high school who confessed she’d always been intimidated by my brains.

    Read You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivian Gussin Paley.

    It’s all there.

    (And then listen to Christine Lavin’s classic song for all of us picked last for the team (we make a pretty big team!), Ballad of a Baseball Game”.)

  49. Chloe says:

    Hi there, thank you for this beautiful piece of writ. I was always the last one chosen, every single time teams were chosen. When the process started, my heart would beat so fast that it fluttered, then the pretence that it’s all okay, when it’s not. I’m now in my fifties and the other day at a family gathering I mentioned this in passing, about our school days and about this stuff, and suddenly I was so very tearful and my very elderly mom could not understand from where the emotion. The thing is it still hurst today. I daresay that it’s a form of bullying (why not draw names from a hat?) and that’s possible where further bullying my progress from. I was a very sickly kid, an asthmatic with limited abilities. Today I’m strong and I do vertical climbing with my sons. But can someone please lobby against this inhuman practice. If it makes me cry still at 50 the hurt is far too hidden. Gee now I have a lump in my throat again. You’re beautiful young lady!!!!

  50. [...] truth is that Jenny has already done more for me than most of you.  She retweeted me once regarding a post I wrote and for a few hours, I was famous on the Internet.  I put in my two weeks notice at work and [...]