In the last several weeks, we’ve been posting items related to Bird Face , written by our own Cynthia Toney. We interviewed the author, shared tales from junior high school, and reflected on where we are today because of our experiences. Bullies and bullying have existed since Cain and Abel, yet we humans need to periodically discuss the issue and make sure we continue to battle our fallen human natures.
On one of those rare days when I could sit and read to my heart’s content, I picked up Bird Face and never put it down until “The End.” Whether you’re a parent or a teen or a kid old enough to read a chapter book, you’ll be able to relate. While a few of the characters initially seem as stiff as one of those cardboard cutouts of a celebrity advertising the latest soft drink in your local convenience store, that’s not the author’s fault. It’s Wendy’s. And who of us has never done that – made a judgment on a person we don’t know very well and relegated them to a flat rendition of their true selves?
Like some of the other Scriblerians, I can relate to more than one of the characters. I had Wendy’s total lack of self confidence, Alice’s reticence, and Tookie’s desire to be popular. The combination came off as arrogant snob, and I assume the In Group labeled me a Wannabe. Wannabes may or may not have excellent qualities, but they want, they covet, recognition.
I hung around the fringes of the in-group, what Wendy calls the Sticks and the Suaves. I went to their parties, but was too self-conscious to enjoy myself. I made the cheerleading squad. Yay! Rah! And at a whopping 120 pounds, I provided a nice, solid base for our pyramids. Instead of being grateful for an excellent singing voice, I noticed who sang with more pizzazz, and I was green-eyed jealous.
Unlike Wendy, it took until my senior year of high school to get comfortable with myself. With no regrets, I walked away from the Sticks and the Suaves and discovered new and true friendships. I began to search for what I could learn from others instead of seek their admiration, but it wasn’t until I surrendered my life to Jesus, that I truly learned how to give of myself without the desire to get something back.
Does Wendy learn how to thrive by the end of eighth grade? Or does she keep messing up for more years than I did? I won’t tell you. Don’t want to be a spoiler. But if you choose to learn the answer, you’ll enjoy a great read.