Anne Rider was shocked when she was called into her teenage daughter's school and informed that her beloved girl has been bullying a poor student.
Anne Rider a successful, well-known author was stunned to discover that her daughter Emily had become the type of girl who had once tormented her throughout her own adolescence.
Gianna was Anne's only child, and she had lavished on her all the love and attention she'd lacked as a child, as well as the benefits of her considerable wealth. Gianna never wore hand-me-downs or went to school with worn-out shoes as Anne had done.
But Anne discovered to her horror that to Gianna, wealth had become synonymous with worth, and she had now been caught for the third time targeting a scholarship student. Anne knew she had to put a stop to it, but to do so she'd have to reveal her darkest secret.
The beautiful popular daughter | Source: Unsplash
It all started with a phone call summoning Anne to the expensive and exclusive private school her fifteen.-year-old daughter Gianna attended. She was surprised. Gianna was an A student, a star athlete, and, as far as Anne knew, a sweet, popular girl.
Anne was in for a rude awakening. Her beautiful, brilliant, and athletic Gianna was popular, but she was also a merciless and relentless bully. The headmaster had decided that since neither he nor the school had managed to curb Gianna's bullying it was time for her mother to step in.
Anne drove home after the meeting going over what the headmaster had revealed. Gianna's main victim was a young girl who had been offered a scholarship because of her academic potential, a girl who came from a dysfunctional family and lived on the edge of poverty.
Gianna had zeroed n on the girl's clothes, her shyness, and her fear of not fitting in, and made her life a living hell, so much so that the girl was on the verge of leaving the school, and giving up a brilliant future.
Bullied at school Source: Unsplash
The headmaster explained that even though Gianna was an excellent student and one of the school's star athletes, she was influencing other students with her behavior. If Gianna didn't change, she had to go.
Anne thought about her own past, the dark painful past she'd spared her child from knowing about, and made a difficult decision. She made a phone call to the headmaster, another to her husband, and packed two overnight bags.
When her daughter arrived, smiling and bouncing with energy, Anne was waiting for her. "Hey, mom!" Gianna cried, hugging and kissing her mother affectionately. "I'm starving!"
Anne said: "Sorry, Gianna, no time for a snack. Your bag is packed we have to go."
Spoiled daughter, indulgent mom | Source: Pexels
Gianna was stunned. "Go where? What do you mean my bag is packed? I'm HUNGRY mom!"
Anne snapped: "We are going away for the weekend, the two of us. Now. Leave your phone on the dining room table please."
Gianna had never seen her mom so cold, and it frightened her. She placed her phone on the table and followed her mother to the car. Anne waited until her daughter had buckled up before she drove away.
For the first two hours, she drove in silence, and Giana was too fearful of this new side to her mother to speak. Then she ventured: "Mom, I'm really hungry..."
"Gianna, you don't know what hungry is. But if you have an appetite there are sandwiches and water in the back."
Roadtrip with mom | Source: Pexels
Her confidence restored, Gianna quizzed her mother: "Where are we going, mom? What's this all about?"
"Your headmaster called me, Gianna. He told me about Lois, and how you've been treating her, and encouraging others to do the same."
"Oh please! That girl is a complete loser! She's trailer trash mom, she's going nowhere! We don't need someone like that at our school. You should see her parents..."
"Your headmaster told me Lois comes from a dysfunctional family, with a lot of problems, but that doesn't mean she's a loser."
"Come on, mom! You haven't seen where she lives! We drove by the other day..."
"You went to this girl's house? What for?"
I was bullied too | Source: Pexels
Gianna blushed: "Well...You know Sharon has her license...We just wanted to see..."
"See what? Or did you go to shout at her, humiliate her?"
Gianna was silent, and Anne said: "You know nothing about that girl, or what suffering she endures every day, and you add to at suffering. "Well," cried Gianna indignantly, "Neither do you!"
"You are wrong about that. I grew up as poor, if not poorer than Lois. I know what its like, and I know what its like to be bullied by someone who has everything, someone like you Gianna."
"Mom, what are you talking about? You went to Harvard and Oxford..."
Where mom grew up | Source: Pexels
"On scholarships, Gianna. My family had no money, my father had abandoned us, my mother drank. Sometimes, the only meal I had was the one the school gave me as a scholarship student. I was hungry most of the time."
They had driven for nearly three hours and now arrived at a pretty picture-perfect small town but Anne drove through the picturesque center, through the outskirts with its beautiful homes surrounded by picket fences.
A few miles out of town, Anne turned into a dirt road and drove until they came to a ramshackle old farmhouse. There were rotting hulks of old cars rusting in the yard, and three or four mangy-looking dogs sleeping on the porch.
As the car pulled in, a woman walked out, cradling a cat. "Well!" she cried in a harsh voice, "If it ain't the Prodigal herself! Come slummin' Annie, have you?"
Anne stepped out of the car and signaled Gianna to do the same. "Hello, mother. I want you to meet your granddaughter."
The old house | Source: Unsplash
The woman walked down the steps and dropped the cat, who landed gracefully and sped away. She extended her arms to Gianna. "My grandbaby! Come to grandma, sweet thing!"
And the woman embraced Gianna. She smelled of cheap whiskey and sour sweat, and Gianna quickly stepped back. "You too fancy for your grandma?" the woman cried harshly, "Just like your fancy mama! I see she missed out on whipping you as I did her. Spoil the rod, I always told her, and spoil the child!"
Anne watched the sad scene in silence. Watched her mother's sneer as she looked her daughter up and down. "Well at least you're prettier than your mama. she was an ugly skinny thing..."
"Mom!" Gianna cried desperately, turning away from the woman, "Please mom, let's go." Anne could see she was on the verge of tears.
Anne nodded. "Yes, Gianna, let's go."
Drinking problem | Source: Pexels
The woman screeched: "You're leaving already, Miss Fancy Pants? Don't forget that check! That's all you're good for!"
Anne drove away from the house in silence. Gianna finally whispered: "Why didn't you tell me, Mom?"
Anne sighed: "I wanted to leave that all behind me. I made a new life for myself, I didn't want my past to touch you."
"That terrible woman...You send her money?"
"Yes. If I didn't she'd starve. She still spends most of it on drink, but my conscience is clear."
"Mom, she's hateful and mean..."
"You know, I used to go to school in my grandmother's clothes. They laughed at me, mocked me, as you do with Lois."
Reconciled | Source: Pexels
Gianna started weeping. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...I didn't know..."
"It's not me you need to apologize to, Gianna. It's to Lois."
Gianna was sobbing. "I will mom, I promise..."
"Just remember one thing Gianna, you may know where someone comes from, but you don't know where they are going. We make our own future."
After that weekend with her mother, in which she learned every painful step of Anne's long hard journey, Gianna was a changed girl. She went out of her way to befriend Lois and defended her when other students tried to bully her.
What can we learn from Anne and Gianna's story?
1. Wealth isn't worth. Gianna believed that worth was measured in material wellbeing and that Lois' poverty meant she was worthless until she learned that her successful mother had traveled the same path.
2. The past is valuable. Anne showered her daughter with luxury and her daughter from her past until she realized her past was a valuable piece of Gianna's own history.
3. We make our own future. Our past shapes us, but it doesn't define who we are, or condition what we can become, or achieve.
4. Put yourself in someone's shoes. Knowing her mother's past, which by extension was her own, taught Gianna to feel empathy for others and grow as a person.
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Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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