Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confessions of a former bully.

I have a bit of a secret... I tried to make a go as a bully.  Preschool- Second grade I was an angel and then something happened.  In 2nd grade my good friend Kristen turned on me.  She was hot, then cold. Without warning she would decide not to eat her lunch with me one day, and be my best friend the next.  On the bad days I would go into the bathroom and cry. My mom let me wear a tiger eye ring she had buried in her jewelry box, she said, when I was sad, to look at it and know that she was with me, and surprisingly it worked.  By the time I was in 3rd grade I was callused by the harsh reality of elementary school. I decided to be a mean girl. There was a little boy named Adam. Unfortunately for him, his lunch had a tuna fish sandwich in it,  and because of that  I would declare that he smelled. I rallied and got everyone else to say that Adam stunk. For a moment on the playground I was queen bee.  Adam stood alone.  It wasn't until my mom packed me (gasp) tuna fish sandwich one day that the tables quickly turned.  My bullying days were over..for now.
For 4th -8th grades I wasn't the bully but there was a girl in our class that held that title very well.  All the little girls followed her around, except me. I got labeled as "weird" except on the soccer field when everyone wanted to be on my team. I was ok with that until one particular bad 12 year old day when I was getting into my locker. I overheard the group of girls openly talking about me and making fun of my dad, because he was not a doctor. Not only did it hurt, but it was nothing that I could change.  I went home and locked myself in my room.  I was low. I thought that my entire life was over.  I could NOT see past that moment. I wanted to die. Yes it sounds asinine. If my 33 year old self could go back to myself and say the next 21 years are going to be amazing,  don't define yourself by this one moment that in retrospect will mean nothing.  But I couldn't. In walked my dad. I told him I was in a very dark place. He knelt down next to my bed.  He was probably the last person I wanted to see, it was his career choice, after all, that the girls were making fun of me for.   He told me that I was smart and funny, and the world would be a much sadder place if I wasn't in it.  My dad didn't care what those girls said, he was very successful business man who not only provided for the family, but enjoyed what he did.
I like to think of a bully as a fire in a fireplace.  It might burn for awhile, but it needs to be fed paper, oxygen or logs to keep it going, with out an audience a bully can't burn anyone, at least that is the way it was.  Lets jump to the present day, specifically the recent suicides of teenage boys who were bullied so bad that they could not see past it.  The present day bully fire, doesn't need to be fed by people in person. It can be fed by cowards who also feel horrible about themselves and the only way they can make themselves feel better is by witnessing others misfortune...anonymously.

The truth is, I liked tuna fish, but I didn't want anyone to think I smelled.  Perhapes the bullies in this case also were uncomfortable with feelings they had, and needed to expose someone else, before they came out themselves.
Last year, my oldest son was the victim of a bully.  Parker was at a book fair and mentioned that he liked Goosebumps books.  Another little boy, told him that not only was that Goosbump book stupid, but that Parker was too and ANYTHING he liked was stupid. His sidekick laughed at my son.
I immediately went into mama-bear-mode. I wanted to punish that little sh*t,
1. for insulting my son and
2. for discouraging Parker from reading because we worked all summer telling him that books were cool.
I had to simmer down.  I realized that my feelings were more hurt than my sons. I tried not to expose my pain, hurt or fear that he would not be liked by his peers.  I explained to Parker that sometimes people say things as a way to express the pain that they feel inside.
A couple weeks passed and the first grade was studying Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of equality, they also used this opportunity to speak about bullying.  Parker raised his hand. His teacher called on him, even though she didn't ask a question, and he he stood up and explained that (blank) had been picking on him, but he forgives him, because it just means that ( blank)  is sad in his heart.  Nothing like a little humble pie to stuff (blank)'s mouth shut.
Guess what? It worked. He stopped. My son had confidence that his ideas are not worthless and he moved on.
That is the best case scenario, but I'm talking about 6 year olds, but in 12 years could this little boy have been the one cowardly putting a web cam up in his dorm room and violating his privacy?

I wish that one of those young guys would have felt comfortable to just look at someone, anyone and say, I'm in a really dark place right now, maybe it would have given just enough time to shed some light on their darkness.

Teach tolerance. 

1 comment:

  1. You are an amazing mother. More people need to teach their boys exactly what you are.