Friday, February 17, 2006

Wolley Bully

Birdie has a best friend. These girls are amazing, playing together for hours without over-bossing each other or getting into a tiff. Mind you they boss the crap out of each other, just not past their tolerance levels. We will call her Rianne. They even tolerate LaLa playing with them to a certain extent so Rianne is welcome in our home anytime except for naptime, because hey... four year old girls are incapable of restraining the high pitched squeals that come out of their mouths when they get into close proximity to each other. Like they have this internal Geiger counter, and their girlfriend is the motherload of all uranium deposits.

They are so dang funny, Birdie and Rianne will spend an entire afternoon putting on sparklies and dress-ups and having this mutual admiration party.

"Oh, Birdie... you are SOOOOOooo pretty! You are a pretty princess in that dress!" Rianne will say breathlessly.

Birdie coyly looks at herself in the mirror and bats her lashes, "I am, thank you!" Then she turns to Rianne, taking in her Snow White dress and 80's hooker pumps, "why, Rianne you are the most beautiful Snow White!"

"Thank you! Do you think I'm pretty?"

"Yes! You are so pretty! Am I pretty?" Then they switch outfits and so it goes ad nauseum, ad infinitum.... eeeeesh!

This would probably become intolerable, except when they get tired of the dress-ups they gather up mounds of books and spend the next hour reading books to each other. Yowza! Party on, sez I! Plus I really dig Rianne's mother. I finally learned the fine art of not waiting till I can get the house perfect and I just invite the two of them over for lunch and a play date no matter what the state of chaos is. This saves my sanity. Friends are good.

A few days ago while the girls were bulldozing Rianne's room Kari (her mom) told me about how for the longest time they had not finished unpacking because of the problem with bullying in the neighborhood. Her son who is now about eight years old was taking it in the pants on a regular basis from some of the local boys, and then in first grade there was a bully who picked him out for special treatment. I guess it's not a shocker, her boy is a sweet and bookish fellow who is a touch high strung. Exactly the kind of kid who got the short end when I was a kid. But the neighborhood boys? I know them, for the most part they are pretty fun and likable kids, but I could easily see how they would turn on a quieter boy who was not into giving as good as he got. I only can see it based on my child hood experiences... I don't understand it. And I know their parents. I just don't understand bullying.


I have been thinking alot about bullies... there has been some internet hoo-rah lately with some flamers and trolls on one of my favorite blogs, so the author turned off her comments for the time being. I respect her decision, and more than understand why... I just hope they don't stay off forever. I have found a number of friends and some sweet blogs via the comments people leave. Apparently there was also a to-do in regards to some pretty unkind "blog awards" some blogger decided to hold. Don't bother looking for it... it either got permanently slashdotted, or more likely the blogger holding the awards just folded up shop. I understand that some very bad e-mails and threats got sent to her. Lots of hurt feelings and bad blood.

I know that in Real Life I've taken it in the pants a few times, in High School there was an entire group of "New Wave" boys who would laugh hysterically and point at me every time they saw me in the hallways. It troubled me and it hurt, but it did not destroy me. Nor did it, I suspect, hurt as much as they thought or hoped it did. Frankly it was a little too over the top with the knee-slapping and doubling over howling. One day during classes I saw the ring-leader walking across the quad by himself. No one else was around and we were walking right toward each other. He was looking down as he walked and I felt very strongly that it was to avoid my eye. That gave me heart to do a thing I have always been amazed at in retrospect. It changed my life. I walked up to him and said his name. I asked him point blank why he and his friends would laugh and point at me in the halls. He mumbled around for a bit, and then told me that I was too sensitive... too soft for this world and that they were "toughening me up."

"Toughening me up? Toughening me UP? Who the "eff" do you think you are to "toughen me up?"" I know that I started yelling... I was MAD! I mean I could understand if they thought I was ugly or laughable or dumb or just wanted to mess with me. I believe that he really did in some way think he was doing me a favor. I ended up by telling him off and telling him to not "worry" about me because I was just fine. It stopped, and the ring leader guy and I ended up becoming friends of a sort in our Junior year . To my knowledge he never tried to "toughen" anyone else up.


I have never knowingly bullied or tried to "toughen" anyone up... and I don't really understand why kids do it... or adults. The main thing that I am saying is I might just die if my own kids bully. I'm not talking about toddlers pushing each other down or normal kid stuff. I'm talking about intentional, on-purpose hurting of others. Their feelings, their bodies.

I'm asking people to weigh in... how do you raise kids who don't bully. How do you bully-proof them from the unkindness of others?


Nobody said...

Bon, I wish I knew the answer to your questions. If you ever find them, you can probably make millions by writing a book on the subject. And I agree with you, bullying sucks.

momma of 2 said...

I think there was a study done at KSU - Let me ask a lady I work with and I'll send you the link.

Bully's are mean - there's no other word for them, I don't know how to stop them, or how to prevent my kids from becomming one...but it breaks my heart.

Lei said...

I think my daugher is a likely candidate for getting bullied in the future. She's uninhibited (in a good way), very accepting of others and just... sweet. I remind her daily to stay that way, even if the other girls aorund her are abandoning it as they "gro up". Actually, I sort of touched on this recently in one of my blog entries. Interesting topic!

Amber said...

Bullying makes me sad. I was never the instigator- but being insecure I 'went along' (especially in Elementary School) to avoid being bullied myself. I think about how I could have changed someone's experience by simply being their friend. I guess with age comes wisdom right?

As a parent I see it from a completely different perspective. I fear my daughter being the bully as much as being the bullied. I don't want her to be that sort of person who intentionally makes people feel bad and torments. It's something we discuss on a regular basis. At that same time I don't want her being the one being bullied either.

As far as adults go... I don't know why putting people in religious boxes is so incredibly important. It seems the meaness and cruelty I've read today would be the last thing that a person who considers themself to be a Christian should write. I'm sad to think that it's human nature to a certain extent. But isn't that part of why we're here? To learn to overcome that and work together to grown and learn and become better people?

Thanks for making me think tonight.

bon said...

Fiddle dee dee Amber! I hadn't even gotten over to the drama you were referencing, but now your comment is clear to me.

some things that people do are beyond my understanding.tibinkxh

Nancy said...

I guess one of the biggest ways we can prevent our kids from becoming bullies is not to exhibit that kind of behavior as parents. Things such as trying to put people in religious boxes, calling people names on the highway, etc. I definitely slip up from time to time, but I do try to present the best possible face so that my daughter can see how important it is to treat others with respect.

The other day I had to chastise my older daughter because she referred to her teacher as "fat." I reminded her how words can be hurtful and that she needs to be careful to keep hurtful thoughts to herself. I am going to try and repeat that message whenever possible, and hope she gets it. However, I suspect she might be one of the bullied kids in the future. *sigh*

Becky..Absent Minded Housewife said...

I remember being bullied by a girl from middle school to high school. Girl bullies can be particularly catty.

I was a really thin girl in school. My junior year I had worn a dress to school because of some kind of function that day. It was green. She made a profane remark about me resembling the jolly green giant. This girl was also tall, but thick. I turned and told her with my eye right in her eye, "At least *I* can wear the dress."

She stammered and I walked away. Problem solved. The minute I stopped ignoring her comments was the minute they stopped.

Today I feel badly for her. Her parents spoiled rather than parented. No wonder ignoring didn't work, it's what her parents did. She's had adult life rather rough. She's on her third marriage.

As far as I know, secure children don't tend to perpetually bully.

Mama D said...

This is a very touch subject for both Peter and I as we were both bullied badly ourselves. I pray that Audrey won't be bullied because it will bring up a lot of emotion for both him and I and we would be inclined to react badly. I wouldn't tolerate bullying by her towards anyone else. There would me harsh punishments for this. We will speak with her a lot about it and do our best.

Looking back on the people who bullied me I can get some perspective. I lived in a small town and my parents were not well respected. We were not weathy, and my parents both drank a lot. I think this made them unpopular and a laughing stock. I believe that their peers and the parents of my classmates, spoke badly of my parents in front of their kids. Thus causing them to bully me. But maybe I'm only fabricating this long winded story. That is the conclusion I've come to.

Parents have a lot of influence over their kids. It makes me realize I constantly have to be the best example I can.

Mama D said...

My keyboard is broken... at least that's my story. You have no email address. I wanted to email you and ask was it you who nominated me at OWW?

ShelahBooksIt said...

I really wish I knew. One of the biggest things I'm afraid of for my kids is getting bullied. I know I was as a kid (by a girl who used to put nasty things in my hot lunch for trying to do the moonwalk in the cafeteria) and it was one of the most humiliating things in my life.

Odd Mix said...

I wish I knew, too! My kids are homeschooled and we like it that way, but we don't live in a vacuum. I just found out about my eldest daughter's first encounter with a bully last year and all my new blogging friends helped me set her right again.

I don't think you can bully proof them other than to ensure they are as confident and assured in themselves and thier own worth as you can possibly make them. And doing that will also likely teach them not to bully - for bullies do what they do to make themselves feel bigger/better.

BTW, this is my first visit here. I like it - and I found it all due to Smenita. And you really have lovely girls.