The Bully Transcendence

The past twenty-four hours has allowed me to think about what kids may be encountering at schools.

I am baffled.

I look back at my own childhood with rose-colored glasses that hindsight offers and I don’t recall anything of this magnitude. There may have been the occasional bully or two but I just learned to avoid them or maybe I learned to avoid trouble altogether.

My husband doesn’t recall his own childhood with my fondness. He has said he was in fights every day and that’s just what they did at his elementary school.

I was baffled.

I don’t recall bullying at my high school. I remember cliques but not to the point of The Breakfast Club

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or Mean Girls.

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There weren’t Slushees thrown like on Glee.

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Maybe there was all of this and I just didn’t see it.

Whatever the case may be, my heart goes out to kids who are dealing with bullying, who are helpless victims, and who just want to get through the day.

Then I came to a rather shocking conclusion: AREN’T WE ALL BULLIES?

We laugh when we see pics from the People of Wal-Mart site. We stare when we see someone’s outfit is out of the ordinary; we may even giggle when they walk away. Some may even not even wait.

Isn’t THAT bullying?

Case in point: Three weeks ago we are at Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth. My daughter A and I are waiting outside of Pirates of the Carribean ride because this year she deemed it to frightening. While we were waiting for my husband and the other two kids, a woman walked by with her family. I didn’t even notice her until a man next to me leaned over to his wife or daughter and pointed.

She was a larger woman in a couple of layered tanks, facial piercings, and maybe even brightly dyed hair. Maybe she stuck out a bit since I did notice that Disneyland attracts a conservative crowd. I don’t know. I really didn’t care.

I did care though when she walked by, the man standing next to me whipped out his camera, took a picture of her, and said, “Got it!” to the woman next to him. They laughed.

I couldn’t believe it. What the hell? What was next? Uploading the picture to Facebook so his friends can point and laugh at the freak walking around in Disneyland?

There was nothing remarkable about this man. He wasn’t paparazzi. He wasn’t a celebrity. He was just a man with a camera who wanted to laugh at someone else because she was different.

He was an asshole.

I really wanted to say something but would I have been next? Would I have been “too brown”, “too chubby”, “too many gray hairs”, “part of a token interracial couple”? What would I have said?

“Excuse me, sir. Your BULLY is showing.”

I sent out an email to my son M’s teacher about what I heard and the advice I gave to him the other night. I wrote that I did not expect any action from her, only that she be aware about the conversation on the playground.

Mostly because I wanted to wait and see.

Call me crazy but I think things might be changing. Hear me out.

Last night I asked my son if his friends talked about that “stuff” again. Yes, I read parenting books. I was trying to be non-threatening, creating a path of communication should he decide to converse with me.

Him: Yeah, we did.

Me: (Silence)

Him: Well, that kid wasn’t in school today.

Me: Hmmm… [This invites kids to give more information without being overbearing. Thank you, Faber and Mazlish from How to Talk to Your Kids So They Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk.]

Him: Yeah, we decided that that wasn’t true.

Me: Really?

Him: Yeah, I mean. Who cares how you look at your nails? My other friend got really mad about that too.

Me: (Silence)

Him: He thought that was dumb.

Me: (Nodding)

Him: And plus, who cares? Right? Who cares if someone is gay? If they’re gay, they’re gay. Who cares?

Me: (Recognizing quotes from my husband and me, trying to suppress a grin this big is like trying to hug the sun.) Cool.

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4 thoughts on “The Bully Transcendence

  1. I think there is a fine line between being rude and bullying. If you are actively going out of your way to make someone else feel like dirt, then it’s bullying by the definition. Otherwise, not everyone is 100 percent polite all the time.

    • Thank you for your comment. I agree, being rude and bullying are two completely different things but (okay, not attacking you, just playing devil’s advocate because that’s what I do 🙂 ) what if that lady had heard? Maybe she did and ignored it. I don’t know. He didn’t go out of his way to make her feel like dirt but it was pretty clear that he was being a jerk. Does this fall under the same construct of feeling better about yourself by putting someone else down? Let me tell you. That was disheartening to see. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Alma

      • I think we all are prone to blurt out a snarky/out-of-line comment here or there, but it doesn’t necessarily make someone a bad person. It’s those who do it frequently who are the problem.

  2. I’m just catching up with Blogger after taking quite a hiatus, but wanted to peek in to say hi. I read your previous post about this. I’m a preschool teacher & I already see signs of bullying here. But I do think the line is really fuzzy. And it sickens me to think of what goes on elsewhere, thanks to our warped society. HUGE props to you for having the energy to educate yourself on communicating with your kids, and digging deeper when needed. Your kids should be honored 🙂

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