Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The New Road

My daughter is being bullied at school. Today it’s her freckles and the shape of her face. Tomorrow it will be something else.

She gazes out the window on the ride home. I see her eyes fill up.

We live in a time when anything remotely different about you is like bloody water to sharks. They swarm and attack and leave you there to doubt your significance.

Ally’s toothy grin has always filled up the room. She owns an aura of spring in radiant bloom. Her spirit is highly carbonated.

She was a baby who woke up happy, and has stayed that way for 11 years. Until now. Until middle school, the bootcamp of K through 12. If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere, I think to myself.

A mother's instinct is to shield. Protect. Fight. I struggle with my inner Rocky Balboa. I feel compelled to act. It will only make it worse, my daughter pleads.

Bullies are pervasive. Not exclusive to middle school. There is no demographic profile, no limit to age or education or occupation. They’re on every playground and in every corporation, in our government and in our churches. They exist on Facebook and Myspace and Club Penguin. And they reside in our families.

It begs the question: Haven’t we evolved beyond this? Why do we teach our young how to get ahead, but not how to get along?

What have we learned from Columbine and the countless acts of violence perpetrated by children and teens who have been bullied? How many kids can we afford to lose to suicide because we didn’t want to be called a rat?

Taking down the bullies is going to require a paradigm shift. A movement of individual acts. An achievement in courage and fortitude.

America is at a crossroads. We can either continue looking the other way or take a stand and carve a new road to a place where differences are respected and our children can feel good inside.

And stay that way.


The Dol said...

God, kids can be bastards. I am so sorry this is happening to your daughter. As it happens, my daughter (a kindergartener) is being bullied by her teacher. It has been a rough year. We will be very, very glad when it's over.

Sixth grade is tough. I student-taught sixth grade and I honestly thought some of them were monsters. I was a grown-up, and they scared me. I've run into some of them since, and age seems to have mellowed them.

Sixth and seventh grade were both very tough for me, personally, too, so I can relate to your daughter's experience. I went on to have a wonderful high-school experience, so I'll hope for the same for your daughter.

San Diego Writer Girl said...

Hi there,

I agree. Middle School can be hell on Earth. My daughter has had a rough go this year with a teacher, as well. He is truly a bully-type personality -- humiliates the kids in class. When I told the staff that a boy was bullying her, this teacher went to the boy and said, "Ally Rose said you were bullying her." This only made the boy hate her more and leave the door open for retaliation. It could have been handled professionally, but he's not a "grown-up." I could write a post or two just on him, so I know your pain. Like I said, bullies come in all forms -- and sadly, sometimes in the people we entrust with our children. Keep up the good fight.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa - I have to let you know about a book I read that was helpful. It's called "Queen Bees and Wanna Bees" - the movie "Mean Girls" was based on it. I found it useful to help my daughter deal with some emotionally charged situations and girl politics.

Sorry that your beautiful girl is going through this - I wish the world was different, but you are right, we haven't evolved very much.

Take care.


cathycan said...

I'm sorry, such a maddening thing to go through! Thinking back on the bullying experiences my kids and I have gone through, I can say don't wait overly long to get involved. I know the child will beg not too, but this has to be nipped in the bud and school must be notified. That is one of the problems with bullying, it needs strong quick action.Of course mean girls are a little harder to pin down.
With her quick wit, she may develop a defensive sense of humor, I did. I'm hilarious and much of that came from dealing with bullies. But the original hurt is still there.
Your home will be a safe, loving harbor and that helps. Take care, answers will come.

Becca said...

Oh, I feel your pain. Not because I've experienced it, but because my baby boy just started kindergarten and I know, I *know* that it's going to happen to him at some point. It's the beginning of the end of the innocence for us. I am so very not ready for the moment when he is picked on because of how he looks, not who he is.

Good luck to your daughter, and to you, as you both find your way through the journey that is middle school.

Amy Sandberg said...

Lisa, You write beautifully that it should intimidate any bully who reads this to cut out the crap they're dealing! I'm shocked that more has not been made of Mitt Romney's prep school "pranks", aka bullying. It's amazing what we're willing to overlook in the name of racism, err, politics.

San Diego Writer Girl said...

Thank you, Amy! I completely agree with you on the Romney thing. If Obama had done something like that - can you imagine the outrage?