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Sunday, October 17, 2010

bully to you

hubby told me some heart breaking news last night.  earlier this week the boy divulged to him that a bigger kid at school was picking on him.  the kid called him "germ germ germ of the jungle" becos he was sick a few weeks ago.  hubby was matter of fact about it, but my heart broke.  i knew how he felt, to be picked on.

i was picked on quite a bit when i was in school.  i was a PK, i wore ugly glasses (you know, those big frames that were oh so popular in the mid 80s), i was a band and music geek and most likely becos i was a big time brown noser, teacher suck up and a general whiny ass.

the names other kids called me stung.  i tried to laugh and shrug it off.  but it still hurt.  seventh grade was a bad year for me. i had a lot of sleepless nights wishing i could be anyone but me.  but as i got older, i learned who my friends were.  i had a small circle of friends, but they liked me for me and i could count on them.  i still have a small circle of friends - i do not desire an entourage of people around me.  farther on in high school, i wanted to be a complete opposite of everyone else (cue the punk/goth years that were 1990-1992).  it was my personal "fuck you" to those who picked on me.  if i was going to be different, then i was going to be different in style.

i was grateful for college where i could meet new friends, where my reputation didn't precede me (however, i gained a new one - "mrs. f's daughter" becos my mom worked at my school - but this reputation was easier to stomach).  i met people who made it cool to be a music/band geek.  i met guys who liked the fact that i was smart.  i met people who were way more punk/goth than me.  it felt good to be in a space where no one really cared who or what you were.

i suppose being picked on shaped who i was.  i grew a thicker skin and learned to deal with people who don't like me.  as i see it, it's their loss, becos i think i'm a pretty cool girl.  being picked on helped develop my snarky disposition - it's definitely a defense mechanism for me.  being picked on taught me to be proud of what i was - a smart, musical girl - and that a real me was better than a fake someone else.

i am fortunate that the ribbing i endured was simple stupid teasing.  i guess there's no such thing as simple stupid teasing.  i guess what i'm trying to say is i'm grateful the worst i got teased for was wearing glasses.  i was never called a slut or a fag (although being a PK pretty much cemented the fact that no high school guy wanted to date me becos God forbid you bang the preacher's daughter.  too bad for them...but lucky for hubby!! ;)  )  no one ever threw things at me.  i never had nasty messages written in my locker, or had my locker trashed.  my teasings were quite small potatoes compared to what others endure.

i am horrified at how vicious kids are nowadays.  i thought that in the nearly 20 years since i left high school, that kids would be more accepting of others who are different from themselves.  i am shocked at how mean girls are.  there were a few mean girls in my time, but they were kittens compared to the girls i read about in magazines, or see on tv.

i fear for my children.  the boy is a sweet, honest, good natured kid.  he is so accepting of others.  he is a good kid.  these days, "good" is a bad thing.  and i fear the day when some meanie will put him down for these admirable attributes.

i fear that freddie beans might get teased when he is older.  he's the still water that runs deep.  he will study something and figure out how it works.  he's a bit slower on motor skills - he's just beginning to walk, altho he'd rather crawl.  he's sweet.  i'm afraid someone will pick on him for the things that endure him to me.

my biggest fears are for petunia.  take your pick - she's a redhead (a rarity nowadays), she's tiny, she's smart, she's a spitfire.  the thought of someone making fun of her beautiful red hair, her quick smarts - makes me ill. girls can be vicious.  and i hope my petunia is ready to fend them off.

i wasn't always the victim.  there were other kids in school that got picked on as well, and more than once i joined in.  mostly name calling or teasing becos someone smelled.  it made me feel like i was on the same side as the kids who teased me (stockholm syndrome, anyone?)  20 years later, i feel badly i did that (c and j, if you read this, i really am sorry).  i realize that kids don't have that fully developed "inner conscience" and don't understand that their actions do have consequences for the victim.  i understand the "mob mentality".  or perhaps they do understand, and they just don't care.  that's sad.

i cannot believe a parent would condone their child teasing another child.  from little on up, i taught the boy to treat others as he would want to be treated.  even innocent questions such as "that lady is fat" or "that boy walks funny" earned a stern talking to.  i don't see how any parent would think their child was "cool" for picking on another child, nor neglecting to correct them.

i plan on inquiring about bullying policies at the boy's school.  i pray they have something in place.

my final thoughts on bullying:

to those who get picked on - it sucks.  it really does.  but you don't have to take it.  stand up, tell someone, keep telling someone until someone finally gets it.  let your bully know you will not tolerate their immature behavior.  you have rights.  you have the right to be you.

to the bullies - shame on you.  grow the hell up, and find something better to do with your time. your karma will catch up with you eventually.

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