Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Of All The Days. ... A Lesson In Bullies

Today was a very special day for the twins; it was they're sixth birthday.  And it was also National Anti-Bullying Day.  But more importantly it was their birthday.  But more importantly, it was also National Anti-Bullying Day.  And Genevieve had her first taste of a bully.

It's not unexpected for us to think our kids would go through this; I think most kids have to deal with it at some point.  But, believe it or not, Gina and I were not always ever the cool kids growing up.  Gina was the awkward girl who preferred reading to playing at recess.  I was the kid with glasses that would make Mr. Magoo giggle, an affinity for musical theater and very poor choices in wardrobe. And yes, that is a mini glow worm doll in lanyard pouch around my neck in this photo.  Trust me, I know bullies.  I recall hiding in the playground tubes while my tormentors sat on top and sang out a clever little rhyme they made up at my expense.  I remember taunts and tricks that kids can play.  It all left it's mark, still there some 30 years later.  And those scars sting a little today.

When Gina went to pick the girls up from school and whisk them away to Chuck E. Cheese in celebration of the big Six Nothing, Genevieve was already in tears.  There's a apparently a little girl in her class who has been something of a thorn.  On this special day Genevieve got to be birthday girl in the class.  One of her duties is appointing a helper who has special privileges too.  Well the thorn used the classic "if you pick me I'll be nice to you and you can be my friend" (oh the old "if you pick me").  Needless to say, Genevieve sacrificed her choice and the bargain was not upheld.  Little thorn became a prick.  Even worse it shifted into a higher gear at lunch with the thorn pursuing Genevieve on the playground and taunting her with hurtful words (I won't repeat them because what's hurtful to a six year old doesn't always carry much weight with adults who aren't their parents and I don't want to lose sight of the fact that the words DID in fact hurt).  When the lunch monitors intervened it stopped, but "the mati" as we call it seemed to worsen through an unapologetic apology.  It struck her deep, this first of many blows.  So much so that after Mr. Cheese's and birthday dinner, ice cream and more presents, it was still a touchy subject when I brought it up during tuck in.  But I wanted to make sure she saw the bigger picture, so we talked.

It's important for her to know that the four eyed boy in bad clothes and after school plays learned what bullies really are.  They're children and adults who aren't as happy as you.  Their mission is not to bring themselves up, but to bring others down so they're not so lonely in the depths of their own misery.  It's awfully sad, and we really should feel compassion for them in between our own tears of hurt.  But we can't give them too much credence.  Words will always hurt, long after the sticks and stones have done their damage, but we can't lose ourselves in all of it, because that's the special light that draws them to us.  That special light is so important that they have to put it out.  They can't stand to see it shine.  But if we keep it lit, in spite of any pressure to dim, the glasses will eventually go into a drawer.  The fashion sense will improve. ... slightly.  And the degree in musical theater is how I met her mother.  I really don't know what to say about the glow worm necklace.

The light she carries is so strong, and the future before her is so bright.  She'll do amazing things as long as she doesn't let those little pricks of the world detract her.  It's easier said then done.  And parents words of comfort and support can often fall short.  But as long as she knows I've been right there with her, that I'm right here with her now. ... maybe I can drown out the negative.  If not me, maybe the outfit I'm wearing in this picture can.

At the end of our conversation, there was still one things that just bothers her to no end about this.

"Why did it have to be on my birthday?! ... And why on National Anti-Bullying day?!!!"

We concluded that the little thorn was not wearing orange today like the rest of the school to show support for the day and it's meaning.  I'm hoping it's because she and her parents did not know (that's easier to swallow then an intentional decision NOT to support Anti-Bullying, in which case our problems may increase with this one moving forward).  Perhaps that's a reflection of the lack of education and awareness that's still out there.  Just because your kid didn't come home crying today because they were bullied does not mean you should not address this topic with your children.  Maybe they didn't come home crying because they're the bully in this story.  And if that's the case, you've got a lot more damage to deal with tonight then I do. 

Despite all of this, a very Happy Birthday to my oldest girls
 I can't hold as well as I used to, but I'll never let you go.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic writing on this subject and should be published in something that all will see.