Friday, April 24, 2009

I wish I had all the answers...

I didn't experience bullies until I was in sixth grade. My little elementary school was pretty tight knit and though there were more and less popular kids, no one was really bullied. Middle school, however, was a whole different story.

I remember the first time I had to deal with another kid being really mean to me. It was on the bus. We were crammed into that bus like sardines, 3 kids to a seat. Worse than that, the bus driver assigned our seats in some lame attempt to keep the noise level down on the bus. I was sandwiched between two girls who were in the 8th grade. In front of us sat the most popular boy in the entirety of Jefferson Davis Middle School. His name was Brian.

Brian had a reputation with the girls of the school. He was cute, he was a class clown, he wore all the right clothes, and always had a popular girlfriend. In my head, though, he was evil incarnate.

I was a chubby little sixth grader and I had no clue how to dress myself or style my hair like all the other girls did. Sitting there, in the middle of those two 8th grade girls, I remember feeling small. Even as porky as I was, I was still a lot smaller than they were. Brian turned around and hung over the back of the seat to taunt me.

He told me how ugly I was. He told me how fat I was. He told me I didn't deserve to be in the presence of those beautiful 8th grade girls.

And all I did was sit and stare back at him and try not to cry until I got off the bus.

I was lucky, though. I simply refused to ride the bus (if my mom wouldn't pick me up and I couldn't get a ride I'd just walk the 4 miles home) and tried not to make any waves for the rest of my 6th grade year. By 7th grade I slimmed down, learned how to do that nifty flip thing with my bangs, and bought some Guess Jeans. All was just fine at that point.

What scares me is that a lot of kids aren't quite so lucky. For me it was a matter of looking the part to fit in, but unfortunately that's not going to cut it for every kid. I can be sure my three are dressed in the latest styles and have the cool haircuts but I can't protect them from the bullies.

Just yesterday Munchkin told me how another little girl called her a "Crybaby" and a "Thumbsucker" and pushed her out of the seat on the bus. Bug came home a few weeks ago and told me how a little boy picked on him during bathroom time and how he doesn't know what to do about it.

So what do I tell my kids? Do I tell them to tattle? Do I contact the teacher or the bus driver? The parents? What if it gets worse? What do I do if I think my child might be thinking life isn't worth living because he or she has to deal with this?

Articles like that one strike a fear inside of me I can't even explain. My heart is crying for this poor child's mother. Selfishly, though, I can't help but see an article like this and look at it as a warning sign. I can't imagine what I might have done if I had been forced to endure those fat jokes all throughout middle school. I suppose it might have damaged my self-worth so much and made my life so miserable that I might not have seen any other way out.

I was lucky... and I hope my own kids are, too. Unfortunately, I think I need a lot more than hope to help them make it through unscarred.


Bahama Shores Mama said...[Reply to comment]

I wish *I* had the answers to give you. I have one in middle school now and another going next year and we've had incidents with both already. It breaks my heart. I just listen and reassure and love on them. Let's make a pact to share if any answers do come to us. *hugs*

Jason, as himself said...[Reply to comment]

WHY do kids feel the need to be so damn mean? I, too was a bully victim. Big time. And not one adult stood up to help me.

But, I know I probably said a few things of my own to make others feel bad.

I swear if I hear about one more kid who kills himself because he was being bullied....

Anonymous said...[Reply to comment]

oh dear... where are those bullies, lemme get sommeh dat teenage anger outta my sistem. Bam Pow Slug!! those kids will be taught a lesson.

mah-meeee said...[Reply to comment]

my eyes welled up as i read your post today. i always feared my kids getting picked on and eventually scars them for life. but aside from giving them the material things to not be the ill-dressed kid, i can only pray that i raised them to be confident girls to know that mean people say things that are not true.

anyhow, i totally feel you in the post today.

hang in there.