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.