Today’s “it” word for mean people is: bullying. When we elders think of the term bully, we imagine the kid that used to prank us. That prankster would grab your knapsack or hide your lunch bag or move your coat. This led to endless laughter from classmates. What did this bully teach us? The one thing that I recall the most was thinking “I will never be like that person.” I think that is the greatest lesson learned.
In school we siblings were lucky to be the Chosen One for many of the bullies. My parents were typical parents in some ways and yet extremely different in others. Not fashion forward at all. When puberty hit and there a growth spurt coming, there was no point in buying clothes that you were going to outgrow. Hand me downs, or clothes that we had outgrown were fine. Really? Oh yes, really. My parents grew up in a village where they were lucky to have shoes in the winter. Yup, those were my parents. We didn’t invite kids from school to our house. Our parents had us hang out with “our nationality” of people. There was mass on Sundays (prayed in the “mother tongue”). During the week we had choir practice (in the “homeland” language). There were the musical instruments we learned to play (something that resembled a mandolin). Dance group…yup, you got it: the folk dancing of our ancestors. These were all fantastic things to keep their heritage alive in another country. In hindsight I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful upbringing. As a child I wanted to break free. I wanted to be like everyone else. Why? Here is the simple equation:
DIFFERENT = MISUNDERSTOOD = CHOSEN ONE
The Chosen One was NOT a good thing. That meant you were prime target for being picked on. Did we tell our parents about any of the verbal or physical abuse we received at school? Heck no! That would lead you to becoming a bigger outcast because then you were a snitch. Equation:
SNITCH = UNRELIABLE = CHOSEN ONE
I wonder how my life would have been different if I had all the protection that is available nowadays. Parents are told everything about what happens in school. If there is a volatile child doing “bullying activities” they get sent to the principal’s office. Why? Due to past indiscretions of previous educators, teachers no longer have the right to say or do anything that will upset the bully. The bully sits in the principal’s office. The principal will tell them that what they are doing is wrong (which the bully already knows) and is told that if they reoffend it will lead to suspension or expulsion. This should remedy the situation right? In the majority of cases…no.
This system might work if parents would believe that their child is a bully. However, the parent(s) will not believe any of this malarkey. Here is how it plays out:
- Meeting with principal
- Parent(s) argues that their child is misunderstood and someone or something provoked their child
- Principal stands firm
- Parent(s) meets with Superintendent who then overturns the principal’s ruling
- Game, set, match!
- Bully returns to class
- Cycle continues
I believe that what makes matters worse now is that everything is recorded and uploaded to be shared and viewed over and over and over again. My generation didn’t have to deal with that. If something happened, people would tell the story and laugh about it, but no one would be able to flash a phone at you and replay the indignation you had to deal with.
How do you get children to understand that their “joke” is not funny? How can you teach them that it’s wrong to make people feel dumb or ugly when our “reality” shows are demeaning people all the time. Children learn by example. What example is our society providing them with? Which makes me think about how we survived in our day.
Friends. I truly believe that whenever you feel down and lonely there will always be that one Chosen One who will be there for you. You are not alone. I find it interesting that in a world full of people, there are no human connections. The connections are made through “text messages” and “likes” and “unlikes” and pictures. We elders are the examples for our youth and we are constantly texting, e-mailing, talking on the phone and ignoring them, so why would they respect others when they get no respect themselves? Are we really too busy to spend time with the youth of today?
I will agree that you need to love yourself first. The reason is simple: Equation:
LOVE YOURSELF = BARRIER TO BULLIES = HAPPY LIFE
If you can love yourself, then the mean people can’t bring you down. If you live each day being grateful for something, then the little things won’t depress you. If you take time to listen to your child and their day, oftentimes it helps you forget about any stress you have had in your day. Why? Their distress is usually something that we can resolve. More often than not, your bit of advice will not only make them feel appreciated and loved, but it will make you feel like a genius!
This was a long one, but I am very passionate about this topic. What can be done to get rid of the bully. Are you going to the Chosen One (victim) or the Chosen One (friend)? The choice is up to you.
Your friend (The Chosen One)
“Be the friend you always wanted to have.” – Maryann