She CAN’T Sing!

 In Featured Stories

Age 13, Baltimore, USA

When I was in eighth grade, I was friends with Leslie (not her real name), a Jewish girl in a predominantly black school who wore raggedy clothes and often smelled of urine. I didn’t care. We became friends in seventh grade. I had been sitting at a lunch table with her when I discovered that she was funny and a girly girl just like me. Besides, I knew what it was like to not have much money and feel less than pretty.

Each morning, at Falstaff Middle School, students gave morning announcements. Leslie was particularly good at it. As she had great reading skills and a pretty solid speaking voice. One particular morning, she was brave enough to SING the national anthem. Problem is, Leslie couldn’t sing. At all. This gave the kids in our class another reason to tease her. During art class, a class Leslie and I shared, the teasing continued. Leslie didn’t seem to care so much. She was strong that way. Until someone asked me, “What did you think of Leslie’s singing?” I didn’t answer. They kept asking. “Do you think Leslie can sing?”

“No” I responded.

Leslie exclaimed, “But you’re supposed to be my friend.” Another friend chimed in. “Well, she said, “a good friend tells you the truth.”

At that moment, I agreed.

Leslie didn’t, and that was the last day she considered me her friend.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, Leslie. A good friend, I now know, sticks up for you when others are against you. Please forgive me.

What did you learn?


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