The first week of April in fifth grade, I got off the bus and started walking toward home. I felt something hit my back. I turned quickly and saw Lonnie, who lived three houses from the corner, picking up more rocks.
“What are you doing?” I yelled. He threw another at me. Then another. I turned and ran home. He laughed.
This happened the next day and the next and the next. Finally, I couldn’t stand it.
“Stop it,” I yelled at him. He kept aiming for me.
“Mama,” I yelled as I threw open the door. “You told me to never tattle, but I can’t take it anymore.” By this time, I was in tears.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Mama put her arm around me and we sat on the davenport.
“Lonnie won’t quit throwing rocks at me.” I managed to say between sobs.
“What? Why would he do that? Did you do something to upset him?” she asked.
“I don’t think so. I hardly ever talk to him. I can’t think why he’s being so mean.”
I began to get my breath. “I don’t know what to do. He’s been doing it for a week.”
“Let’s go talk to his mom. I bet Ann doesn’t know.” We walked back down the street toward their house. His mother, Ann, was the daughter of my favorite neighbors, the Yarbers. That made Lonnie their grandson. They’re so kind and loving. How could they have such a mean grandson?
Ann was surprised to see us. I saw Lonnie run down the hall and hide. Mama explained why we were here.
“Lonnie, come here!” Ann yelled. He came down the hall with his head down and wouldn’t even look at us. “Why in the world are you throwing rocks at Sharon? She’s a nice girl. You don’t treat her like that.” He mumbled something. “I can’t hear you, Lonnie. Look at me and tell me.”
Slowly he raised his head and looked at his Mama.
“I do it because I like her,” he finally said.
Silence — then Mama cleared her throat. I could hear a smile in her voice, but it wasn’t on her face.
“Lonnie, when you like someone, you’re good to them and you do nice things for them. Throwing rocks at someone doesn’t make them like you.”
“Sorry,” Lonnie muttered. Then he looked at me. “Will you sit by me on the bus on Monday?”
I didn’t know how to answer.
Mama squeezed my hand and I said, “OK.”
It seemed like that was all he needed. I was never hit by another rock.
This memory makes me wonder: Why do people throw verbal, emotional and sometimes even physical rocks at people? Might there be some secret “like” or yearning? Is there a discontent so deep they no longer hold respect or kindness as a priority? Maybe it’s jealousy that blinds the thrower to a better solution? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn’t making our world better.
Rock throwers create anger, hurt, revenge and distance. These reactions are based in fear. They’re the response of self-protection. Maybe it’s time to climb out of our protective cocoons and take a closer look at our relationships. We can change the world one person at a time by putting into practice the words from Glenn Campbell’s song from the ’60s.
You’ve got to try a little kindness
Yes, show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.
Chase Hoseley is a freelance writer and retired kindergarten teacher who lives in Clarkston. She looks forward to sharing her out-of-the-box, out-loud thoughts with you each month. She can be reached at email@example.com.