Weighty Matters

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School Bullying

on August 14, 2013

Local kids go back to school beginning next Monday.   When I was young, I viewed this time of year with equal parts excitement and dread.  Maybe equal parts of excitement, stress and dread.  Growing up in a small town, everybody pretty much knew everybody else.  Unfortunately, familiarity didn’t always breed niceness.  Small towns or big, there are the cliques of the cool kids.  Mostly I remember there being two groups — the ins and the outs, I’ll call them.  If you were even on the fringe, you were definitely out.

Even if you’re sort of in with the in crowd and not ostracized, that doesn’t mean you won’t be teased if you’re a fat kid.  Sticks and stones can break your bones, but you know what?  Names do hurt.  That’s just on the school yard.  I can’t fathom how horrible it would have been to have experienced name calling and teasing for my weight in person and then on the broader, even more enduring public forum of a Facebook.

I think about this when I think about kids going back to school.  I hope that there is broader acceptance today and that kids aren’t so quick to pigeonhole or categorize someone “on the fringe” as undesirable.  Unfortunately, it’s not an entirely optimistic hope.  There are too many stories of kids bullied so badly that it rips them apart and pushes them to suicide.

Back in the day, I’d feel so bad after being teased that it would only motivate me to eat something to suppress the bad feelings.  I wish that I could have done something positive with the meanness, like use it as motivation to lose weight.  Sadly, my compulsion didn’t work that way.

If I took anything positive away from being teased as a kid, I guess it contributed to my self-reliance.  I think I also developed a strong sense of loyalty to the people who were my friends back then.   Wow, I just had a flashback to fifth grade, the year that my family and I lived in France.  There were a couple of real beyotches in my class.  They were also overweight girls.  I sense that they were grateful when I, the “new girl” arrived in school because it gave them someone that they could pick on.   I’d come home so many days and complain to my parents about those two girls.  My folks always counseled me to “rise above it” and be the better person.

I did that for months.  Then in the winter, my closest friend in France and I were on a ski trip with our fellow students.  In a cruel twist of fate, we were assigned to share a room with my arch enemies.  My friend was very shy and this was her first time away from home.  That first night she was homesick and weepy and the evil duo picked on her unmercifully.  They were so incredibly mean that they really made my friend cry.  I asked them to stop.  Then I warned them to stop.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I snapped.  The one girl and I got into a fight in which I picked up my wooden hairbrush and began smacking her with it.  Pretty quickly she lost her bully attitude and started to cry.  At that point I stopped hitting her, said something snarky like, “Getting hurt until you cry doesn’t feel so great, does it?” and walked away.

I’m not sure why they didn’t immediately run to the chaperones and rat me out, but they didn’t.  Instead, they pretty much steered clear for the rest of the trip which suited my friend and me just fine.

Yes, I know that violence, even if it’s done with a hairbrush and not a deadly weapon, is not the answer.  Rising above it and walking away, like my parents suggested, probably did serve me better in the long run.  Whatever the case, I obviously survived the school bullying I experienced through the years.  That’s something.

4 responses to “School Bullying

  1. Marti91257 says:

    Aww, I’m sorry that you had such a difficult time in France but I’m glad you pulled out that can of Whoop-Ass on that mean girl, she deserved it!

  2. Hope says:

    I got bullied as well. My Mom helped me work on my snappy retorts. Which didn’t help very much in 6th grade, but has helped me a lot in the time since. 😀

  3. Robena Grant says:

    Bullying is so hard to understand but I think it has to go back to the home. If you’re a kid who is bullied by an adult, you’ll most likely see that as a way to get what you want in life. Rather than schools educating the kids on bullying I wish there was a way to teach the adults how to be adult.

  4. Skye says:

    Bullying sucks. I’m sorry you were driven to hitting your enemy with a hairbrush, but good for you for sticking up for your friend!

    I was bullied from 6th through 8th grade. It was like, out of nowhere, I was the kid who was picked on. And I was picked on by the kids I grew up with, even when we moved into junior high and there were all kinds of new kids they could have bullied. And even before that, I was bullied by some older kids. And my cousins. I was apparently a pickable kid.

    Ignoring them as my parents told me to didn’t work, they’d just crank up the meanness.

    I will never understand bullying. Perhaps my lack of understanding about power and social structures led to it. I wonder what those kids who bully another kid into committing suicide think afterward? Do they even feel bad at all?

    I’m glad we both survived. The world would be a poorer place without us. 🙂

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