I find it only fitting that I take the time on this #SpiritDay to publicly thank a couple individuals who got this kid through his worst of years (junior high).
To Mr. Bob Adams,
Right off the bat you saw my spark for creating and pushed me both out of my comfort zone and in the arts with projects and daily tasks that I wouldn’t normally have tackled (or even attempted). You understood me often times more than I did myself, and I always trusted your guidance for I felt you truly had my best interests whether or not you went about it in the way I expected: you were rougher around the edges. I needed that.
A perfect example of “you” would have to be that first sewing mural I completed. You were impressed. I was proud. It was a great feat that was quickly tarnished when a certain someone left a note on my piece that ever-so-eloquently stated “faggy.” Short, sweet and at least a teensy bit more clever than just writing “fag.” Still, I took it and ripped it up. Visibly upset I’m sure. You said nothing for what felt like the longest minute or so. No hug. No reaction. That wasn’t your style. Instead, you gathered the tiny pieces of paper and walked them over to a sewing machine. You opened the cabinet doors to the scrap piles, smiled that occasional “fuck this noise” grin and waited for me to get off my self-pitying arse.
“Make something he never could.”
And I did.
To Ms. Pam Dahnke,
I’ll admit that I feared you my first semester. You were so abrasive. So dry. So odd. You always called me “Bohs” in that harsh, deep manner (that I later would look forward to hearing). At first I thought you hated me because you’d always call on me and talk with me. I remember a specific moment when you called on me and I quipped back with some rude response reminding you how many other students were in the class. You gave me a lunch detention (which was your clever way of talking with me more since you were in charge of lunch detentions). It was after that lunch when I started to realize what you were truly doing: watching out for me.
When things got fairly rough that year in the locker room, you took me aside and told me what I was going to do. You didn’t ask what I wanted to do about the bullying or have a conference with the principal to see what “action” to take next. No, you just had a solution. Done. Solved. I couldn’t have been more surprised and relieved. You took a great deal off my shoulders by simply allowing me to change clothes in your locker room.
To put it simply, things just always got better when you were in the picture, Ms. Dahnke and I can’t thank you enough for being my mentor, disciplinarian and friend those three impressionable years.
It’s because of people like these two that kids like me were able to come out the other side of that deplorable act called bullying. Not everyone has a Mr. Adams or Ms. Dahnke and for those individuals, I open my arms and send all my love your way. Seek out the positive individuals in your life. There’s always someone there whether you realize it or not.
I’m living proof.