Friday, October 25, 2013

I still don't know what to do! Against Bullying Series:Part 1

When my sisters, brother, and I were younger, we got picked on quite a bit.  Little things, like spitting in our hair, or food, or pulling down our pants, or calling us names.

This is Bubba, Jo, and Scary-we were pretty cool!
 Oh the names.  Like warthog, I hated to be called warthog!  But, when your hands and arms have warts on them, what can you do, you must be a warthog.  I also have a pretty rare genetic mutation, that makes it so I have white spots on my legs, and a white streak in my hair.  The white streak in my hair made me look, to an elementary child, like a skunk.  So, skunk was a common nickname.  And the white spots on my legs made people follow me around in stores and stare, or in swimming lessons, kids sort of treated me like a leper.  

                     

Don't I look like a fat, skunky warthog?  No?, that is what I thought then.  My hair is short in this
picture, because a girl decided to be my friend one day, in second grade, if I didn't have a white streak,  so we took scissors to the bathroom at school and tried to cut it off.   It looked so bad, she changed her mind. 



I didn't really know what to do about it.  I found out quickly that if you cried or complained to a teacher or your parent, the next time they bullied, it would be much much worse.  What can you do?  Its hard to laugh.  And, walking away doesn't really work, because they follow you- until they see you crying, and then they tease about that.
If no one will swing on the swing you sat on or use the same toilet stall, because they don't want to get warts, or let you slide on the slide, because they would get your germs, how can they play "ring around the Rosie", or tag with you?  Pretty soon everything you come to accept as normal and good starts to be questioned.  Are you normal, are you good, are home sewn clothes normal, are they good, is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich normal and good when everyone else eats hot lunch,  is your hair normal, is being taller than all of the other girls normal, is turning the other cheek normal?  And, then, at least for me, it turned into a huge cycle of self loathing.  Would I ever be a short girl, or a skinny girl?  Would anyone ever be brave enough to be my friend?
Aren't my parents so cool?!
There were several children who made my elementary years a nightmare.  I am sure they did for others too, but I couldn't see others pain, past my own.  I am sure that is why the kids who weren't bullies didn't step in and help-they didn't want to be the next target of ridicule.
Jo, Al, and Scary.  Scary was still bullied in to highschool.  By the time we took this picture I was dating my husband, in college. 
Even though writing this, makes me sad, for that little lonely girl, I am not her anymore.  My husband and children love me.  I have friends that I am still amazed, like me, for me!  And, besides the occasional moment of "not feeling good enough", I am a happy, hard working, goal oriented, spiritual, beautiful person.  So, why bring up these childhood memories?  Because of what happened today.
Today my sweet Hulk got up at 6 am to make pizza for a school market day.  While we were making the pizza's, he told me that maybe no one would buy them, because one of the girls at school told everyone they would be gross.  I told him that was OK, because then he could bring them all home and we could eat them. We laughed about it, and he seemed fine.  He made a couple of signs, and a table cloth, and three pizzas.  He wore an apron, and he was ready for business.  He kept telling me, "it doesn't matter what happens at school today, because I had the best time making pizzas with you mom!"


So, we load the car, and all of the kids and go to school.  Then, I spot the mean girl.  She is standing there at the door of the school, hands on her hips, and snotty expression on her face, entourage in toe.  "So, what did you bring for market day?" she snarls.  "Pizza"!  He says, with the excitement that hard work produces.  "EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW Sick Gross Pizza!  That is going to be sooo disgusting since you made it with your!"
  Do you know what I wanted to do?  I really wanted to just punch her in the nose.  All of those old bullied emotions came flooding back.  Then I wanted to pick up my little boy and his pizzas and bring him home for the most fun pizza party he had ever had.  He still had a smile on his face and he walked past her like a champ.  He put his stuff away, and he was so excited.  I, on the other hand, got in my car and sulked all of the way home.  Then I called my sisters, and we talked about bullying.  We talked about some of the oger bullies that messed with us when we were kids, and how we have made peace with them.   They told me all about the bullying drama in the blog sphere right now.  We talked about how sad it was, and even to this day, we still don't know really what to do.
So, I am asking for ideas. What do you do when your kids bully or are bullied?  What do you do when adults bully adults, or adults bully kids?   I still don't know what to do!
with love,
-Jo

9 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say about the bullying. Reading this made me cry. I am thankful I came out mostly unscathed. However, one time two cute guys made fun of my legs and I've worn long pants and skirts ever since. So I totally get it! What I want to tell you is that you are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. And I'm not just saying that. Even looking at the photos you posted. You are a true beauty. Maybe it's because I know you and you have a completely beautiful heart and it radiates light all around you. You influenced me greatly when you lived in our ward and I've never forgotten you. Flower was bullied a little in her 1st grade year by 3rd grade boys. They made fun of her name, her lunch box, her race and pulled her hair. It made me so mad! Thankfully it stopped as soon as it started but it's so hard to see our kids go through those things. Love and hugs to you as you navigate this. I'm anxious to see some responses. It definitely makes me regret anyone I ever teased out of my own insecurities. Makes me want to find them and apologize.

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  2. Well, I guess I was a brave child. I hated to see others bullying anyone else and I would stand up and defend everyone. I didn't feel scared, I certainly was no angel and knew pretty well how to answer those bullies back. Of course there were always other kids trying to make me feel bad about myself, or the fact that I was too short, or too thin, or whatever. I was always in a fight, so I guess I might have been a bullier myself at some point... I guess. This is something that really scares me, and I believe it is happening to my nephew who is now in 3rd grade. My heart bleeds just by thinking of it.

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  3. Our schools now are extra vigilant with bullying. The intermediate school actually has anti-bullying seminars every week, for one hour. There are open discussions and the kids know they are safe if they report unkind behavior.
    It doesn't mean it never happens though.
    My oldest was being bullied by people calling themselves her friends. We had a few talks together, she and I, about the fact that true friends should make you feel good about yourself.
    She distanced herself from them and they left her alone.
    A few years later, she saw one of the same people choking one of her friends. My daughter went up to them, broke up t he fight, and then encouraged her friend to report it (and even went with her as support). She found her bravery.
    I am so sorry that anyone ever made you feel that way. Those scars run deep and take a long time to fade.
    BTW: That stripe in your hair is awesome.
    Thank you for sharing this. I hope your son finds a way to get past this girl's immature nasty behavior. He seems like a sweetheart!
    ~Michelle

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  4. This post makes me so unbelievably sad. It's a good reminder that bullying has been around longer than most people would have I believe. The news media focuses in cyber bullying and how we can stop kids from terrorizing their peers over Facebook or twitter, but the truth is that it's just as hurtful (or in my opinion even more so) in person. I worry so much about this with my girl. She doesn't have a ton of peer interaction at 2.5, but sooner than I realize she'll be off to school and who knows how things will go from there. I will say though, as much as it would kill me to know she was bullied, I'd be much more devastated to find out she was the bully. I know that those who bully are themselves in so much pain and usually turn out to not be very nice adults either. Whereas someone like you or your siblings are still the sweet and kind person you were back then. I'm not sure how well I'll deal with it if it happens to my girl, but it sounds like you're doing a great job. He sounds like a confident young man and that starts at home. :)

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  5. Sorry about your experiences as a child. That's awful. I was also bullied but never to this extent, mostly silly nicknames. But I can relate. It made me feel so awful. I am a former teacher, and I have certainly seen bullying many times. Kids can be so mean. I always taught my students and my own kids, that bullies are are miserable, insecure people who bully others so they can feel better about themselves. I think it helps to have that attitude when you are bullied and have to deal with bullies. Your son sounds like an awesome young man! Obviously, you are doing a great job as a mom. Also, as a teacher, I would strongly encourage you to speak to your son's teacher/principal etc about the girl's behavior. I understand how kids who are bullied are reluctant to bring up the issue, but it's absolutely crucial, otherwise the cycle will continue. The girl learned that she can be mean and say cruel things with no consequences. That needs to stop.

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  6. I still don't know what to do either :( This story is so familiar and so raw. Thanks for talking and for posting. It's in my mind and I am thinking so I will come back if I think of anything else to say. For now though THANK YOU :)

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  7. I was homeschooled so I probably missed a lot of bullying because of that (thankful!) but I also was always the one who noticed when someone felt out of place or uncomfortable and I would reach out to them. I never was part of a popular crowd in college but I feel like I was always true to myself. As far as blogging bullying goes - I've felt it and it hurts. Thankful for you guys and your story! :)
    "Show me how to love the unlovable
    Show me how to reach the unreachable
    Help me now to do the impossible" -Matthew West

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  8. So sad but so true. One solution is to constantly drum it into our children that they are beautifully and wonderfully made by God. That everything about them is just perfect as it is. That God thought of them before He made them and made them specially for a purpose.
    Growing up my father always made me feel special and nothing could change that, not even what another person thought!!
    I felt so special and didn't need any validation from any guy or person, and thought them weird if they had any negative thing to say.
    I would have thought the white streak in your hair made you even more special and different, that's what I would have told those people that had nothing different about them. God help us to know we are really special and so loved by Him. Consider this there are millions of people in this world and there is no two persons with the same DNA or fingerprint!!! we are all individually and specially made. Awesome!!!

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  9. Oh man, Jo. I'm bawling my eyes out here. I was teased in high school only (and then when I left and realised that what those horrible people said wasn't what the majority of the world thought), but my sister was bullied pretty bad when she was in primary school (the two years when I was not at the same school as her) and she had a massive stress disorder that she started to pull out her hair and had a bald spot :(

    I think you're GORGEOUS, inside AND outside!

    Honestly I am super envious of your white streak!! It's so cool, in fact I used to wear a white fake hair extension for a few years ^_^

    I hate that bullying is still around, and that it's on the Internet now too. It's something I was fearful of when Vincent started kindy, and while he has handled hanging out with other kids pretty well, he goes to *real* school next year and I'm worried about bullies.

    How was your son after school? Did the horrible little girl say anything or did he brush it off? If it doesn't bother him, then I suppose it's best to just let it go. It's great that he could talk to you about it though!!

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