Bullying ....big topic, all over the news, tragic headlines showing suicides all linked to kids who just did not want to deal with the bullying. I have to say as a Mom bullying is one of the bigger fears I have. My sons are nice kids, the older one is friendly, social and yet he is a child who is different. He may have his "quirks" contained but it is because he knows that other children may not understand that he flaps, walks on his toes, talks to himself...that is reserved for the safety of his house. The outside world need not know he has these....he knows and he is only 7. My younger son has the personality that says "I do what I want and if you don't like I really do not care"...he is the kid who will continue to play with an activity regardless of the peer activity around him. He likes friends but really is mostly interested in being validated by his own needs.
Bullying...I swear bullies were just not this cruel when I was kid, or is that the beauty of memory helping me block out the bad and remember it through a better lens? I can never be sure but I do know that bullying did not follow kids home via social network and mobile devices..no respite from it in the sanctity of your own home. I do know that having something written about you on a bathroom wall could be erased or unknown to you but it was contained. I do know that there were kids who somehow attracted the negative attention...was it a hair do, clothes, demeanor? I do not remember bullying anyone and I am sure that I never tormented anyone but I was not so noble as not to have laughed when a girl in my HS known as Penny Pencil was made fun of, not so noble as to befriend her when she may have needed a friend, was not so innocent in adding to the gossip about her (behind her back) and for this I am ashamed. I am sure someone made fun of me but I was always lucky I had a very social personality that usually did not lend itself to making fun of me, I was too self deprecating and let's face it nothing you were going to say to me was not something I may not have thought of already about myself. I was always funny and friendly and saved from being an outcast by these traits. I always was able to make a lot of friends, and they were and are wonderful and somehow think more of me than I ever will. I did suffer for about a year when I transferred to private school in 6th grade, my tormentor teased me about being poor (am pretty sure we all were blue collar kids so bit ironic in retrospect) since I had not been in private schools my whole life, seems so ludicrous now but was so terrible then. She was tall and blonde and had the perfect flipped hair. I learned that being pretty outside and ugly inside could live in the same person. In that one year I learned to cry at home and shrug off Ms. Perfect at school. I found my own friends there and have since learned to feel bad for her ignorance. Funny I tried to be "adult" about it when she friended me on FB...but then thought nope do not need you and no ill feelings about it.
I am really uncomfortable with compliments, I am insecure about my appearance, my worth to people...I know my closest friends love me and do not judge me...I haven't often or with ease told men if I loved them madly for fear of rejection...yet without fail I get a lot of comments about how I probably was not bullied because I am so self-confident (ha...guess the Oscar goes to me). I am more confident today then I ever was and less vulnerable because of it. We need to teach our children to embrace the fact that people are different and not to delight in making those differences into outcasts. The old adage is "children are cruel"...probably due to their lack of editing but we can help them grow into the adults who will want to learn that cruelty and fear of differences will stagnate them, that from those differences they can learn together to make the world a slightly less scary place. I cannot protect my children from bullies and that frightens me but I can arm them with self-confidence. I cannot stop someone from hurting them with words or actions but you better believe I will contact those parents and tell them about their kids' behavior as often as needed until they know it is not "over reacting". I cannot change the pathetic people who can only gain happiness and validation at the expense of other people's pain but I can help my children know they always have a place to come and talk about this. I will not allow my children to be bigots, bullies, not embrace differences or in any way think I will show them any tolerance for friends who want to be like that. In the end I can do all that and hope for the best for my boys. If you as a parent think your child is a bully step in...it is not OK, it is not cool and it can be deadly. If you as a child are being bullied tell your parents and make them understand how this hurts...they will listen. If you are a bully ask yourself why ? I cannot change the world but I can tell you that I for all my fears of being rejected, being afraid that others will think I am not the person worthy of their affections, will be the toughest adversary you ever meet to protect my sons....bullying ..NOT COOL
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” ~ Harvey S. Firestone