Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Bullying & A First Time Experience.

The day before Chelsea's birthday last week she had an encounter and for the first time in her life had an experience of what the meaning of the word bully would feel like. In all her years of elementary school she has never, ever been bullied, mocked, made fun of, or even pushed around. She has always been the popular girl in her class. The one everyone will come to when they need a friend. The one they will go to when they need a pencil, an extra book to read, extra filler paper, a friend to walk, run, and play with at recess. A friend to go to in times of need, and even though she's 10, when it comes to her peers, and school...she's got the mentality of a 15 year old. She tends to be a peacemaker, and someone who knows the difference between tattle telling, and telling on someone who has done something wrong. She's always the first one to laugh, and smile which she was as I posted this picture of her. I hear the same thing every year since she started pre-school at parent/teacher conference. Her teachers have all said the very same thing about her, and it's never disappointing, "we'd like to reproduce Chelsea" "whatever y'all are doing mom and dad keep on doing it" "she's a breath of fresh air" "she's so sweet, and helpful" (you get the picture.) Each year that passes I am flattered at the results of what her teachers think of her, and in how well she does in her academics. I hear nice reviews from her teachers, and how they've never had any issues with her. 

It's always so wonderful to hear all the good things about your child, but when your child finally comes to terms to tell you that because she was defending a friend of hers who was being bullied while waiting for the bus to arrive to take them home got bullied herself. It's like a knife just stabbed my heart. Apparently she raised her voice at this kid, and told him to "stop it!" That's when the boy stepped forward making a fist as if he was going to hit her. Chelsea stepped back, and got nervous. Luckily the buses arrived, and all the kids went their separate ways. What do we say to our kids when, and why things like this happen to them, or anyone? I certainly wasn't prepared because as far as I know her two older sisters had never been bullied in grade school, and even though I went through off and on periods of bullying throughout my entire 12 years of school I had repressed some of those memories, and with all the media that's out there in this generation today about bullying helped me remember, and after watching this video is when I knew I really needed to go in depth with her about the whole bullying issue. 

Because even the best of kids, no matter who they are will once in their lifetime be bullied. 

Since this incident happened right after school Chelsea didn't tell anyone (including me) until the next day which was her birthday. Funny thing is she didn't show any signs of stress in the home when she came home from school. I think the fact that it was her birthday helped her to forget about the situation, and focus on her special day. It wasn't until she returned to school that her teacher noticed she was melancholy, and not herself. That's when Chelsea opened her mouth to tell her of the incident that took place, and why she was so sad. Luckily the situation was immediately resolved by the principal which resulted with the kid apologizing to both Chelsea, and her friend. Along with a future suspension. Let's just hope this kid learned a lesson, and doesn't grow up to be an even bigger bully.  

So, what would I tell my kid in cases like this? I, for one would never tell my kid to retaliate, or seek revenge. That is just not the answer. I know how it feels to be bullied. To be scared wondering why someone is attacking you when you are doing something right. Wondering why in the first place you're being picked on knowing that you've never done anything to hurt anyone. I was bullied as a young kid. Teased because of my Jackson Five, Afro looking curly hair. I had girls who hardly even knew me wanting to beat me up, and for no reason! There was even this one girl who lived near me up until I moved away who teased me in high school. Made fun of my hair even in the freaking ninth grade! Sad because we were childhood friends, and sometimes hung out after school listening to music outside on the sidewalk chewing on chaw gum, and sucking on hot cinnamon sticks. Oh yeah...even the friends you thought were your friends can become mean! 

But I let it go as I grew up, and became a mother. 

My very first encounter being bullied was by a girl named "Evie" who was from the neighborhood (that's not her real name) I was in the fourth grade. I had gotten off the bus, and as soon as the bus drove away Evie just ran up from behind me and yanked on my hair. Yeah...she just pulled it unexpectedly. I just stood there for like two seconds wondering what the heck just happened here. She began going off on a rant, and because I was in shock couldn't recall her words. All I was thinking at this point was making it home, and I had one block to do so. Evie was a big girl so yeah...I was petrified. Luckily I saw my mom from a distance walking towards me which was very rare. She always trusted me to walk home on my own, but on this day it was as if she knew I was in trouble. Evie had a reputation of being a troublemaker, and came from a broken home. I recall trying to be nice to her at one point before this incident took place, but she always came off rude, and scary so I just stayed away. I was so relieved that my mom was there because if she wasn't who knew what Evie would have done next. The next day my mother phoned the principal, and ever since that happened she never bothered me again. I have no idea what became of Evie, and as I look back to recall some of her actions she always looked sad. 

I was about the same age as Chelsea when this happened to me for the first time, and I told her my story the day before writing this post. I told her that she did the right thing by telling her teacher. I also reminded her to always, always-no matter if she feels she's going to get in trouble to always tell me, her father, or her sisters when bad things happen to her especially when it comes to bullying, and to let us know first! Sometimes kids are too scared to tell on the ones that are bullying them, and they continue to take it until it escalates to a point where that child may not want to live anymore. It's scary to think that, but it's the truth. Chelsea is a tough cookie, and I personally feel that she's a lot tougher than me when I was her age. No one wants to see their friends being made fun of or hurt. Instead of Chelsea joining in on those who pick on others, she defends them, and tells them to "stop it!" Most of the time they'll stop, but in this case...this kid scared her, and luckily her emotions upon returning to school caused her to tell her teacher. 

Bullying has gotten worse over the years, and as parents it is so important to reach out to our kids, and talk to them about that. Whether or not they get bullied it should still be an issue in the home so that our kids can defend those who are being bullied, and most importantly to speak up so that our kids don't become bullies themselves. We are the example to our children, and if we exhibit any kind of bullying ourselves they will pick up on it. They will think that's the way things ought to be, that it's okay because mom and dad do it, and that's how life is. 

Wrong!!

It shouldn't be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. We are the adult, and it is important to act accordingly because one thing I know is that life is tough. And it can end badly for both the bully, and the one who's being bullied. 

Luckily...I endured everything I went through while being bullied, and survived all the ridicule I took throughout my childhood years.

And I pray that when our kids leave the house for the day that they will always return home unscathed


Let's stop the bullying. 


***This movie also opened my eyes as well with all the social networking going on today. Cyberbullying has got to be the worst!! 

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