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.

11/3 = 5K + 50K (or Wicked)

The best song lyric to describe what I’ve been feeling lately is from a musical I’ve never seen but worship the lead in everything she does, including her recent stint on Glee.

Idina Menzel, the goddess herself, sang, “Something has changed within me. Something I can’t explain.”

Our family goes through a depression whenever there is a huge adjustment. How effortless it was to get used to having R home when he was in recovery. How quickly we were at ease when we came home for a couple weeks in July for L’s birthday. How excited we will be when he’s home for a week this month.

Alas, there can be no rainbow without clouds. Or rain for that matter. [Note: There is a blog I follow called Rain into Rainbows. Give me 24 hours to figure out once again how to post the link. :)]

I recognized that a few weeks ago.

Last month I found a book called “Simple Abundance” at a used book booth at our parish festival. Flipping through it, I saw there was a brief essay for every day of the year and I thought, “Hmmm. Why not?”

I forgot about that book that I bought for two dollars until I decluttered my room. My room that included clothes the children outgrew, toys that were salvageable, and too many teaching aids. All intended for Goodwill, mind you.

That night I opened the book and read a handful of essays, one of which described keeping a gratitude journal. I remember a few episodes when Oprah talked about keeping that sort of journal but never did.

Until now.

When I remember and am not exhausted out of my mind, every evening I write down five things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal, summarize the highs and lows of my day in a few sentences, and read/reflect on one of the daily meditations from “Simple Abundance”. I can say with utmost certainty that I experience a deep, restful sleep those evenings.

Since starting the journal, I feel like I slow down, purposefully looking for things I can be and am grateful for, and living with purpose. The other day when R blew out a tire and had to pay over a hundred dollars to replace it, I listened. Didn’t bitch and moan about the cost, about how much we have (or haven’t got) in our bank account, about something that happen to anyone at any time. I was grateful that it happened on base and no one got hurt.

Would I have had that reaction last month? Who knows? I do know that I don’t waste another moment of my life taking anyone or anything for granted.

Keeping a journal is not everyone. So I beg the question, what rituals center you?

5K
Um.

Oops…?

I did not make it to the gym as you can see by the pics above. I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m not going to feel guilty either. The weather has dropped at least twenty degrees without warning. But I suppose fall weather doesn’t need any warning because it’s fall. Luckily my personal goal is to jog ten miles a week. Did I forget to share that? Anyhoo, I’m almost up to seven miles this week and I have the weekend to catch up. Tomorrow is Friday, glorious Friday, in which I have a sub job in… wait for it… my middle daughter’s class. Should be interesting, fun, exciting, scary, nerve-wracking, hair-pulling, and Starbucks-inducing all at the same time.

Luckily I’ve got most of a peppermint mocha in the fridge for tomorrow. I have found that while I still have a healthy (for a six foot tall man) appetite, there are less voracious moments. I’m not sure how to explain that. I am definitely a stress eater, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart, the kids, my husband, etc. When I have these moments, I feel empty and the only thing that can temporarily satiate those hungry-for-anything-but-food moments is when I’ve stuffed myself full with food I cannot recall. So yes, it exists but not with the frequency and faux appetite that it once was.

Huh. Highly profound at 10:30 in the evening. I suppose that’s what happens when I limit my Red Vine intake from a handful to… (gasp) two.

#

50K

I brought my laptop fully charged to my sub job this morning in case I had free time.

And I did!

Signs that I knew it was going to be a productive writing day:

1. this particular classroom had a wonderful and talented special education aid who really knew these kids and helped me immensely! I thanked her profusely and asked her why I even bothered to come to work. Yes, she was that good. No, I was not offended that she took charge over some activities.

2. this particular school had a minimum day and had dismissal over two hours earlier than a regular school day.

3. this particular school office had nothing for me to do after the kids were dismissed. Yes, I asked because technically I am supposed to be there until 3 pm and I’ve gotten to know which schools are sticklers for that rule which I do not oppose at all. I just try to avoid sub jobs at those schools, lol!

4. my friend agreed to pick up my kids and let them play at her house with her kids for an hour or so.

5. there was not a long line at the grocery store because the worse possible time to figure out when you’ve run out of milk is in between bowls of cereal. Yikes!

6. my peppermint mocha was served in a the signature red cup. Ahhhh… fall is here.

Expected Word Count for Day 3: 5,000
Total Word Count for Day 3: 5,458

You don’t know

You don’t know…

… how good a hot bath feels on a random school night, reading the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly, and playing NKOTB softly in the background.

… how fast my feelings for Mr. Schuester have changed in a year. No longer swoon-worthy, sorry to say. I have a new love and he is Blaine.

… how much I love Idina back on Glee. FAAAAABULOUS!

… how disappointing Zumba was this morning. One should not hear the phrase “bow-and-arrow” in any fitness class, let alone a Zumba class!

… how silly Quinn’s storyline is. REALLY?!

… how adorable Puck was when he saw his daughter for the first time.

… how hard it is not to write about Glee when it’s on right now.

… how frickin’ pitiful I am when I try to quit sugar. I think about it all the time. It should be an indication of how stressful life is and I should find other ways to cope but dammit, sometimes I need a handful of chocolate chips and I’m good.

… how my junk drawers became junk-y again, do you?

… how difficult it is to wake up some days and force myself to think happy thoughts. Usually it works. Usually.

… how fast our kids are growing up.

… how many plans the kids have already made for Daddy when he gets out here in November.

… how many times a day each kid asks about Daddy. When is he coming home? Can he stay a long time this time?

… why my dog is chasing her tail and in the meantime scratching my arm, do you?

… how odd it is to celebrate eleven years of marriage when the number of years actually spent under the same of your true love is less than half that time!

… how wonderful it is to have kids who are okay with going to bed at 7 pm for the girls and 8 pm for the boy. Hence my bubble bath and Glee!

… how incredibly lonely it is some nights when you think of something seemingly important or hilarious right before you go to bed but then realize your spouse has been asleep for three hours… three time zones away.

You DO know…

… I get sad sometimes but I get over it eventually. It might take a few thousand calories but oh well. What are ya gonna do?

… I’m thankful and grateful for everything and everyone in my life, for my past experiences and even past mistakes, and excited about what tomorrow may bring.

… I’m going to get a bowl of rocky road ice cream before New Girl starts!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #11

So over on Wife of a Sailor, Wife posts questions for other bloggers to answer on their own military spouse blogs. (Still with me so far?) And since I put the kids to bed and started a load of laundry, I thought this might be fun to fill out while watching yet another Glee rerun. This week is “Fill in the Blank” (or clozes to my teacher peeps out there!).

1. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and…

First thought: … he’ll live forever. Reminds me of that early 90s group Arrested Development. I loved them.

Second thought: … he’ll figure out a way to get out of work early and go fishing without me. We were stationed at Fort Gordon the first three years of our marriage and I didn’t think lake and river fishing weren’t the same as ocean fishing.

I have too many memories of going with my dad to Winchell’s Donuts for breakfast and heading to Moss Landing in one of his many beat-up cars to go fishing. I learned to never turn your back on the ocean and marine mammals were responsible for bad fishing days. (I now know, of course, those cute sea otters have nothing to do with it. Duh.)

Also, Augusta weather is sticky and hot and breeds too many icky critters, including a rattlesnake that popped his giant head out from under a rock when my husband was thirty yards away! Needless to say, I encouraged his fishing hobby from the comforts of our apartment, guarded from creepy crawly critters by our kittens.

2. It is amazing what you can accomplish if…

… you write it down. Almost everything I’ve ever done in my life, I wrote as part of a list. Diana Scharf Hunt once said, “Goals are dreams with a deadline.” I’m pretty sure I have an index card in my wallet with goals that I wanted to accomplish before I turned 35, 40, and 50. I still have goals I haven’t met but I’ll get there one day. Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

3. If you can’t stand the heat…

… stay out of all the places we’ve ever been stationed!

Georgia? Blecch.

Texas? Dry blecch.

Virginia? Base housing and NO utility payments? Ahhhhhh….

We’ve lived in Sacramento for three years and the weather has become so unpredictable. It is the middle of August and I didn’t have to turn on my air conditioner today! This week, the kids needed sweaters at school in the mornings!

4. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to…

… what other wounded warriors have been through and are going through. True, what we went through still renders me speechless but it doesn’t compare to the dozens of injured soldiers and ill veterans we’ve met in the past year and a half. Please continue to pray for Katie & Ben Rye and Cale & Kathleen Darling! Mwaaaaaah!

5. Well behaved women seldom…

… wonder what they’re missing. I WONDER ALL THE TIME. That’s a whole ‘nother blog!

YOUR TURN!

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #10

So over on Wife of a Sailor (Yes! The link is up! Thanks, Rain into Rainbows!), Wife posts questions for other bloggers to answer on their own military spouse blogs. (Still with me so far?) And since I’m watching the Gaga rerun on Glee, I thought this might be fun to fill out while watching Idina the goddess herself belt out “Funny Girl”. She (and all of the other Broadway stars on that show) must be AMAZING in person. Still holding out for Jonathon Groff! *swoon*

Feel free to put on your own blogs and/or comment with your own answers. Have a great weekend!

1. Facebook or Twitter?

I’d have to go with Facebook because most of our family and friends are on it. It is so simple to upload pictures and provide updates of our family. Twitter is fun too because I get to “follow” LeVar Burton and Judy Blume.

2. Hard Tacos or Soft Tacos?

Soft tacos. Hard tacos break too easily. Nachos are a good alternative to hard tacos. I prefer a good fish taco from Rubios. Breaded and fried fish, shredded cabbage, a smidge of guac and white cream sauce, topped with pico de gallo in a corn tortilla. Yum!

3. Gardening or crafting?

Definitely crafting. I can’t grow anything except babies. As a young milspouse, I tried everything from sewing to knitting. Didn’t fail, more like lost motivation. The only thing I’m really good at is baking.

And eating baked goods. My bad. That’s two things.

4. Fruit or vegetables?

I would say fruit, especially in the summer when everything is ripe, fresh, and cheap! I am coming around to liking vegetables and thinking outside of the salad box.

5. Motorcycle or bicycle?

I loved riding my bike until I realized I was paying more in flat tires than the bike itself. Something thorny grows everywhere and it drives me nuts. Definitely NO to motorcycles. We’ve known too many who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. One of R’s best friends was in a fatal motorcycle accident about eleven years ago.

Your turn!