It seems like for as long as there have been human beings, there’s been bullying. Maybe it even stretches farther than that, I don’t know. My miniature pinscher has it out for our cat. That poor thing can’t even stretch out on the rug without being attacked. It’s no wonder she’s nuts. Forever though, there have been stories about lunch money being taken, wedgies and swirlies being administered, kids being shoved into trash cans, whatever. In some way it was a rite of passage for some kids. Fight back and you’d earn the respect from the bully to keep your underwear out of your butt-crack, and your head out of the toilet. I’m not saying it was right or o.k., I’m just saying that for a lot of kids growing up, it was just a part of life. It continues today, but I feel like it’s so, so much worse than it ever was. It happens with such severity now that we have mass school shootings. (Don’t you dare tell me it’s the guns… Just don’t.) Kids are committing suicide and receiving national media attention in their wakes. I suppose the silver lining to all of this media attention is that there is light being shed on the subject. I think it’s probably happening more now than it ever has, but at least the schools (for the most part) are less tolerant of the behavior, and awareness is being raised. At least to some extent. The whole thing - it’s just horrible.
My husband has never been bullied. This is probably due to the fact that he’s an enormous bear and I doubt anyone’s got big enough balls to try to bully him. Also, my husband can and does get along with everyone. He’s that guy. No enemies. Nice to everyone. He just stays away from the people he doesn’t like. He’s never even been in a fight. I admire this greatly about him, because I’m not that girl. Not naturally anyway. My instinct is to be defensive all of the time. I have to work hard to keep that at bay, because it’s not an attractive quality even to my own self. I remember a girl in 3rd or 4th grade who bullied me. Her name was Gladys. She was in my grade and she was in a gang at 9 years old. She was a full-fledged badass, and I was (and still am) a sheltered white-girl. She was mad because I liked the New Kids on the Block. No joke. That right there is why she hated me. One day I beat her at handball, and she dragged me across the playground by my hair. Just for that reason. No one came to my defense. I don’t even remember if I told my parents. It was just playground crap that happened. I, unfortunately was a victim. We moved away from there not long after that, and I never saw her again. When I was in 8th grade, there was a girl named Amanda who hated me with a passion. I don’t know if I ever even knew why, but she spread rumors that she was going to beat me up one day. Or maybe she didn’t and some even meaner girls just told me she said that so that I would stay home from school. I will never know. I also don’t care. The last time I saw her was when we drove away from that school to move to the house where I’d eventually meet my husband. I flipped her off through the window of the back seat of our little hatch-back. I still remember the look on her face as she mouthed the words “That bitch just flipped me off!!” I remember a gay boy named Daniel who came out in high school. He was cornered into the bed of a truck in the student parking lot and nearly lost his life from the beating he took that day by a bunch of guys who had a problem with the fact that he was gay. He spent nearly the entirety of my freshman year in the hospital recovering from that attack. Because he was gay, and because it apparently mattered to people who otherwise had nothing to do with his life. He never came back to school. Not to that one anyway. I was a bully to a small extent in high-school to one girl in particular. I can’t even remember her name, but I hated her for spreading rumors about a friend of mine that she’d slept with him. It was none of my business, it didn’t affect me in any way shape or form, but I stuck my nose right in the middle of it to be what I though was a good friend. I was an idiot. I never, ever did anything physical to her but I knew how to run my mouth, and I got my point across to her. It doesn’t matter. It was wrong either way. I think about it a lot more than I probably should. That behavior is at the tip-top of the list of things I wish I could take back in my own life. I am ashamed of that girl. It wasn’t a proud period in my life, that’s for sure.
I have written a lot on this site about bullying. About the problems we’ve had as they pertained to our own child and a certain little boy at her school. These problems have been ongoing for 2-1/2 years now. It’s still happening. I think finally came to a head two or so weeks ago when he tried to swing a wooden scooter at my daughters face. On purpose. After threatening her that he was going to do just that. I lost it a little bit and then I had multiple lengthy conversations (again) with the owner of the school and the teacher. The owner of the school even had the audacity to ask me what I thought my child was doing to this little boy before he attacked her each time. She never said it, but I felt like she was implying that my child was at fault for the attacks. A) F-you. No she wasn’t. B) I don’t care what she did, no kid deserves to go through the crap she’s been dealing with from him for all of this time. August cannot come soon enough for me, I promise you that. I begged to set up a meeting between myself, the school and the mom of the demon child. My request was denied because they didn’t want her to feel like she was being ganged up on. They said they’d speak directly to her and let me know how it went. It’s been two and a half years. I don’t have a lot of faith that the school is going to resolve the issue that this point. Two and a half years of closed-door meetings, whispered conversations in the hallways, conferences and phone calls and a slew of other attempts to correct the problem. Finally, some time ago, we just decided to tell Louie, “You know what? Hit him back.” We’ve tried so hard to do it their way. To talk things out, to say “No Thank You,” like they’re taught, to walk away, to get a grown-up – to do all of the things they’ve told her to do. None of it has worked. He is not responsive to any of this. So, even though she told us that hitting back isn’t a “nice friend,” and that she was seriously concerned about having to sit on the wall at recess, she understood that while she was never allowed to hit first, she was always allowed to defend herself if she felt she had to. The owner of the school told me wide-eyed that she could never tell a child to hit another child. I told her I didn’t think it’d ever be something I’d have to say either, but that I felt like we were out of options. The teacher even told me she wouldn’t bust my child for defending herself. She told me she was appalled that this had gone on for as long as it had, and that the threats and the behavior were horrifying. She was quick to point out that in public school, this student would have been suspended multiple times. I think one time Louie punched him back. He left her alone for about a month after that. She did not get in trouble.
Today I posted a link to my Facebook page about a 12-year-old little boy named Bailey who was attacked by a couple of boys on the school playground last month. He was beaten so badly that he started having seizures the next day. He was placed in a medically induced coma to try to control the brain damage he’d received, and he finally lost his life after a 3 week struggle, sometime yesterday. TWELVE YEARS OLD. He was essentially beaten to death. By his peers. My heart breaks for him. I cried when I read the story. I can’t imagine what his family must be going through. I can’t imagine how the families of the boys who essentially killed a child must feel. I hope there is remorse. I do not understand.
In my household, the #1 rule that applies to my daughter when she is among her peers is that while she does not have to be friends with everyone, she does have to be nice. I don’t want her to be a pushover, and I don’t want her to be taken advantage of, but I don’t want her to think that it’s o.k. to be mean just for the sake of being mean. It’s not o.k. I am thankful beyond words – beyond belief that she is an inherently nice person. Genuinely, down to her core, deep in her soul, nice. She is sweet-natured and she worries so much about being a good friend and doing the right thing. I adore this about her. I wish we could bottle that up and pass it around to the other kids she’ll be around in her life.
I don’t know that I had a point to this post. I just needed to write about it. I needed to get the words out of my brain and off of my heart.
I can’t say it enough. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be nice.
Rest in peace, Bailey. Rest in peace.