The first sign that this was going to be a bad day was when I saw Shaina, my best bud for as long as I could remember.
“Hi, Shaina!” I yelled across the crowded hallway. But Shaina didn’t look up. Was it my imagination, or did she turn and walk away on purpose?
No, she wouldn’t ignore me. We had been best friends for years! She probably didn’t hear me above the noise of the hall.
But during second period I realized that something really was wrong. When it was time to pick partners for a class project, no one wanted to be my partner. I tried talking to my friends, but they all turned away. What had I done?
Maybe this was just a big misunderstanding—or a joke. I really hoped it was a joke. But as I approached “our table” at lunch, everyone turned away from me. What was going on?!
Tears began to burn my eyes, but I blinked them back. Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Jennifer, a girl I’d met this year at school. “Amy,” she whispered, leading me to another table, “Samantha has started a club against you. She is calling the club ‘The Haters of Amy Club,’ and everyone is supposed to walk away when you come around. She asked me to join but I told her to forget it.”
I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to scream! So that’s why everyone had turned away from me! I could hardly wait for school to end. It seemed as if those last few hours just dragged on and on!
Mom to the Rescue
“Why would my friends do this to me?” I asked my mom later that afternoon.
“Kids can be cruel sometimes,” she said. “I’m sure the school wouldn’t be happy to hear about this club.”
I started to feel better, and at my mom’s suggestion, we headed for school. As we passed the parking lot I saw Samantha and her mom speaking to Lizzy and her mom. “Maybe we can all talk this out and solve the problem without involving the school,” my mom said as she pulled into the parking lot.
When we approached the group, Samantha got a weird look on her face and leaned over the car window and whispered something to Lizzy.
“Excuse me,” my mom said. “I think we need to talk about this club you girls have started.”
“Well,” Samantha began, “everyone has their own reasons for not liking you, Amy—I didn’t make anyone treat you mean!”
“Your daughter is only getting what she deserves,” Samantha’s mom said. “Last year Amy was very mean to Samantha, and I had to go to the teacher,” she said. It took a minute, but I finally remembered what she was talking about. Samantha had been new to the school and Shaina and I hadn’t made any effort to include her. We weren’t trying to be mean—we just didn’t know her very well. When our teacher let us know how this made Samantha feel, we made a real effort to make her part of our group, even though she made demands that we thought were unfair. We went along just to keep the peace.
“I never heard there was a problem,” my mom said. “But that was a whole year ago. What you’re doing is mean right now.”
“I think as parents we should step out of this and let the girls work it out for themselves,” Samantha’s mom said. And with that, she and Samantha got in their car and drove off.
I was shaking. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. “We’ll just see about that,” my mom said. “C’mon.”
Would Real Friends Do This?
In the dean’s office, I told my story again. The dean told me how mean kids can be, and she assured me that the next day all the girls involved would be called to her office to explain their behavior. Before we left, she said something I hadn’t thought about. “Amy, I think you and your mom should have a talk about friends—real friends. Would girls who were your real friends do this to you?” She paused. “You’re very special, and your friendship is special. I’m not sure these girls deserve to be your friends.”
That night, my mom and I did talk about friends, and I decided that I would wait and see what happened the next day at school. After all, some of these girls had been my friends for a long time—especially Shaina.
The next morning, the girls were called to the dean’s office one by one. Finally, I was called in to join them and each girl apologized for what she had done. I couldn’t help wondering where Shaina was, though. Later, I learned that Shaina had lied to the dean and told her that she and I had worked it out already. She just didn’t want to get in trouble.
Everyone left the office with smiles, but when we were in the hall, Samantha turned to me and hissed, “I thought we were going to work this out by ourselves, without the dean!” Then she walked away.
New Friends—and Lessons—for the Future
I was relieved it was over, but I was hurting too. Had these girls ever really been my friends? I had never felt so alone. Then I remembered someone, Jennifer, who had tipped me off to the club in the first place. She had refused to join.
The next day, I told Samantha that I thought it was best if we were no longer friends. The other girls and I talk sometimes, but it’s not like before. The hardest part was losing Shaina. Even though we still say “hi” in the hall, we don’t talk on the phone or spend time together, and I miss that.
But some good came out of this whole thing. Now I have some great new friends—Jennifer and others—whom I know I can trust. And I learned a lesson about friendship that I know I’ll take with me always. My friendship is a gift that I can give to someone if I want to, and take away if it’s abused.
*Note: Names have been changed.