Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things I don't know.

The other night we were watching one of those news programs that my husband loves so freaking much and the topic turned to suicide because of bullying. I noticed that little eyes and ears were paying very close attention, but it didn't bother me because I felt like they should hear it. They should know what was going on.

"I'm just so glad the Boy and the Girl aren't bullied all the time," I remember saying to Jason and before he could say a word in response the Boy Child started laughing.

"Why are you laughing?" I asked.

"Mom," he said. "I'm bullied every single day at school."


I think my heart stopped beating in my chest for a second. I really did.

Because I knew my kids had been picked on in the past. I remember, vividly, telling Jason that I was going to get in my little SUV and run the Hell over these fourteen-year old douchebags who were mocking my son (age 8 at the time) for having glasses. Because glasses are just SO unusual, apparently. Last year the Girl child had a horrible bully who taunted her daily for weeks and weeks. She ignored her, wouldn't respond to her at all, until the other child finally shouted something vile in class which made the Girl child burst into tears of frustration. The other child was suspended (and, I later found out, pregnant) but only after the Girl reached her breaking point.

But all of that was dealt with. Right?

"What do you mean you get bullied every single day?"

In a clear, calm, rational voice my child, my TWELVE YEAR OLD CHILD, explained to me that people make fun of him because his hair is short. Because he wears glasses. Because he's skinny. Because he's not as tall as his best friend. Because he doesn't wear a certain kind of tennis shoes. Because he's stupid. Because he's in the smart kid classes (how that aligns with being stupid, I'll never understand). Because he's poor. Because he's friends with his twin sister. Because of his last name. Because he carries a water bottle in his lunch bag. Because he goes to church. Because the sky is blue and the Earth is round. Basically for every single reason you can think of, even if it makes absolutely no sense, my kid gets picked on.

And I had no idea.

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked him.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Mom. They'd make fun of me no matter what because they are assholes."

I didn't tell him not to say "assholes".

"I know I'm skinny. I know I'm short. I know I'm not poor. I know I'm not stupid. I know I have short hair and I know I can't see without my glasses. They're just assholes."

"Yes. They are," I agreed. (Again, I didn't tell him not to say assholes. I don't particularly care about that parenting fail, just FYI.)

"Mom, they must feel really bad about themselves to make fun of someone like me."

"Because you're awesome."

"Mom, I'm weird," he told me. "I know I'm weird. I like being weird. I like my friends. I like Girl Child. I like church. I don't care what they think."

"Bill Gates was probably weird," Girl Child piped in.

"Yes, he probably was. Those kids making fun of him are probably wishing they could work for him now," I said. But it wasn't necessary. Because my kid, for whatever reason, doesn't care.

And thank God for that, you know? Because I cannot imagine what a gift this world would be robbed of if my little son, my sweet, hilarious little son decided that the bullying was all too much for him to take.

And you know, the parents of those kids who are killing themselves because of the bullying? They are thinking the same thing.

I read this really great article on on CNN by a gent named Roland Martin. It's a call to action, basically, to parents. That we have to stand up for our kids and not accept the bullying as "something kids do".

I believe that. I feel like a Fail as a mother because I didn't know what my son was having to deal with.

I've heard all the celebrities say lately, "It gets better". I believe that too. I don't remember being actively bullied as a kid, but today people at work try to bully me into doing the wrong thing all the time. It's a different kind of bullying (and, um, it never works) but it's still happening. In my own neighborhood (admittedly full of assbags) I was threatened and harrassed and screamed at by a neighbor (who could only call me "fat" repeatedly because the one and only brain cell he possessed told him that particular insult was the worst thing he could say). My children saw him being carried off in handcuffs for robbing our neighbor in broad daylight (genius!) so maybe that's where they get the assurance that all idiots go to jail eventually. I don't know. I do know that the people bullying me, or trying to, don't know me at all. They are grown-up people who never grew up, never learned how to deal with people, and are entitled. They are raising kids the exact same way. It's really scary.

I hate that my kids have to grow up in this kind of world. Hate it.

I don't know the answer here. What I do know is it would be a tragedy if one more child died because of this ridiculous, petty, stupid crap.

It does get better. But until we all stop this lunacy, it's never going to be okay.

11 comments:

Carolyn said...

There is not ONE SINGLE parenting fail in that story. You have managed to instill such a strong sense of self and self confidence in those children. You guys are raising some wonderful human beings. And, my gorgeous 15 year old daughter thinks Boy Child is a hoot. She's seen all the videos you have posted of him....

Bexterrific said...

Your kids are wise. They get it, ya know? They shouldn't have to, at 12, but they do. And they have you to thank for that. :) I love you all so freaking bad. xoxoxo

Jill said...

Some good natured ribbing is okay, but I never experienced that. I got full out you name it I'm horrible taunting (down to the fact that I wasn't born in the same hospital as the other kids-- starting at 5 years old).. but the sexual harrassment was what really killed me. I knew they were being jerks, but that kind of thing easily gets under your skin. I'm glad you are raising your kids better than my parents did me. Their advice was ignore, make friends, or punch them. We all know ignoring doesn't work, making friends, yeah right, and I didn't think they were serious about the punching. Too bad they told me after 18. The harrasser? I should have beat the crap out of him, as much as a five ft 90 lb kid could have. I'd take a free shot if I got one now, I think Jesus would forgive me. When I finally decided to pretend that these people didn't even exist, you wouldn't believe how hard they tried to make up to me. I don't want bad things for them, but I certainly do pray when I think about how they treated me, that they pass better behavior down to their own kids.

queenrandom said...

Boy Child handles himself with so much grace. I went through near daily bullying when I was his age as well, for many of the same reasons (and a few different ones, like, the egregious insult of being female), and my home situation didn't help matters. I did attempt suicide when I was his age. I am amazed at the confidence and levelheadedness you have been able to instill in your children.

And you're right. Little bullies grow up to be adult bullies (I used to work for one!). Also, a lot of bullies are themselves bullied, either by other children, siblings, or even their parents. It's a cycle that has to stop first with us as adults. Kids model the behavior they see adults exhibit.

velocibadgergirl said...

I was bullied, too, in middle school, just like Boy Child. Made fun of every.single.day. Never anything super serious (well, other than one unrelated incident in high school). It sucked ass, but it did get better.

diane rene said...

I am so sorry boy child is going through this, that makes me sad.

this has been a huge topic in my house as well. my 10 and 6 year olds are learning what it means, not only to stand up for themselves, but to stand up for their peers. it breaks my heart that they have to, that other parents aren't teaching their children that it's okay to be different.

I am also finding that there are some who feel bullying is a fact of life, that it helps children determine how and when they will stick up for themselves, in turn, building confidence. while I can sort of see this, by stretching my imagination to limits that feel unnatural to me, I think what these people forget is that this is not your typical school yard bullying that a very few people take part in and can be left behind when you go home. this is spread worldwide on the internet so that people you have never met can jump in and tell you what a horrible, vile person you are. where lies can be spread, far and wide about what you may or may not have done. it's just not the same.

I do agree, it does get better and the things that matter now will not matter in 10 years, or even NEXT year. as parents, all we can do is teach our children to stand up, with their peers, against bullies and hope that it catches on and spreads.

Danielle said...

Please bottle up some of the Boy Child and send to me for use in raising my Boy. I too was bullied in elementary school and still remember names, faces & things they said. It was horrible. I so worry about my son being bullied and wonder how I could teach him to know that those that bully are assholes?

Ms. Marsha said...

Stephanie,
I LOVE this post. And I LOVE the kind of parent you are. Please do not ever doubt that. I am always amazed at how intelligent and perceptive your children are while still being down to earth and realistic.

I was bullied when I was little, and I still remember. I ran into the perp when we were both college aged, and you know what? He was still the same pain in the ass bully but now? He was a fraternity pain in the ass bully. Some things never change, I guess. My humble opinion to surviving bullying is your self awareness and self confidence can make or break you in these situations. Thank goodness your children appear to have tons of both.

I heart you so much!

Menopause Dairies said...

Middle school sucks eggs BIG time. The very worst bullying occurs during this most delicate time in a kid's life. It seems that conforming is critical to some of these kids and if you don't fit their very narrow definition of "cool" they think it gives them the right to taunt other kids to death (no pun intended) over stupid things like your (very wise) son mentioned. I was tall, wore glasses and was a "nerd" in middle school, because I got good grades and my mother dressed me funny (I wasn't allowed to wear short skirts and I had curly hair instead of long, straight hair -- I went to middle school in the early 70s; what can I say?!?). I was teased, bullied, pushed, spat on, had epithets hurled at me in the hallway -- all because I didn't have cool clothes, was tall, wore glasses and was a band geek. I pretended not to care but I did care... I was devastated that I was not "acceptable" in the eyes of my peers. I wanted to disappear into the ground each and every day of the torture that was middle school. High school wasn't a whole lot better but it was better. Your Boy Child has a good head on his shoulders. I say "bravo" to him!! And bravo to you for raising such a resilient, wise child. And Girl Child also, for her comment about Bill Gates. High fives all around! :)

Mary said...

Good for your son! Good for him for being confident in who he is to know that the other kids have a problem!
This is my first visit to your blog...I'll be back!

Victoria Dehlbom said...

Your son is going to be an awesome man! He is right though, those kids would find something to make fun of him for and it is sad that kids do that to each other. My youngest son, who is 17, has had kids say things to him. He doesn't even tell me anymore I had to hear it from one of his friends' mother. She told though her son and the other guys he is on the football team with told those kids to, "Shut up you a-holes. You just aren't as cool as Randy...leave him alone." Surprisingly they do. I've learned my son walks to the beat of his own drummer and is very self-assured in himself, much as boy child sounds to be. That is all you can hope for...that he is cool with his own "weirdness" and other things. He will be an awesome man some day!

However, some of those kids will never outgrow it. My oldest son, who was in the Army ROTC program at his college got made fun of all the time, plus got called lots of nasty things. He has always loved his country and the military, which is now proudly serving overseas. The fact is the people making fun of him weren't just peers, but faculty who should know better. Some of who were probably made fun of as a child for liking books, science, or math, yet they didn't remember, they just saw it as a chance to finally make fun of someone for being different. All in all it is a sad commentary on our society.