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
or Mean Girls.
There weren’t Slushees thrown like on Glee.
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.
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.
Him: Yeah, I mean. Who cares how you look at your nails? My other friend got really mad about that too.
Him: He thought that was dumb.
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.