School is hard for my oldest son. Not academically; there he achieves in ways I never even imagined. But socially, its rough being the kid with severe anxiety and o.c.d. To top it off, he seems to have a hard time reading social cues, and therefore a hard time understanding when people are making fun of him, versus being genuine.
But today he knew. Today he came home and asked to speak to me privately so he could tell me what happened at recess. For a while now he’s been telling me stories about this group of kids who have invited him to be part of their game, which is hard to explain, but based on some Cat Warrior book series, where there’s a leader and other members. (I know this all sounds ridiculous, but when was the last time that 10-year-old children weren’t completely ridiculous?)
Thomas had been allowed to join as a medicine cat, but under the stipulation that the medicine cat hangs out alone, on the edge of the playground, and is only allowed to interact with the rest of the group when given permission. Of course I tried to point out to him that this was just plain mean. He insisted over and over that he liked his role, that he was having fun, and that when it stopped being fun, he would quit the group.
Today it stopped being fun. Thomas decided to tell the group that he wasn’t “playing” their game anymore, because he felt like they were teasing him (and he was right). But the leader, and keep in mind that I am talking about a ten-year old girl, yelled at him in front of everyone and told him he was never part of the group anyway; that he was never playing the game and no one wanted him around. To be honest, I realize she was telling the truth. I knew weeks ago that the other kids were just humoring my child by letting him have this side role, where he could pretend to be involved, but they wouldn’t actually have to play with him. And it broke my heart then. It made me sad.
But this makes me MAD. As he was telling me, the tears welling up in his eyes and the genuine misunderstanding written all over his face, I flashed back to my own experience with a group of bullies. I was in the 7th grade and a group of girls stole my math notebook and wrote horrible words all over it. When I turned it in to the teacher, the same group of girls insisted they had seen me write the words, and I got in a lot of trouble. The guidance counselor called my parents, the principal was involved. Worst of all, I had thought the girls were my friends. I had wanted to be part of their group so badly, that I didn’t even realize that behind my back they were making fun of me the entire time.
You might think that was a long time ago, and it doesn’t have anything to do with my life now, but you’d be wrong. I have never been bullied since, but I have never gotten over that incident and to this day I do not trust other girls (women) very easily. I always assume they are out to trick me and it takes me a long time to really become friends with another female and to trust that she won’t turn the tables on me. Bullying has very real, very lasting effects.
The truth is, bullies just suck. I want to punch this little girl in the face, the one that yelled at my baby today and told him he was worthless. The only funny thing to come out of this whole story was when I asked Thomas, “what does this girl look like?” and he responded, “I don’t know, Mom, all girls look exactly the same!” I had to smile, knowing full well that it will only be a few years before he will likely change his mind about that.
I always feel bad writing these serious posts, as I know that most people reading this are caught off guard if I don’t write using my usual sarcasm. But I just really needed to hammer home this message today, which is plain and simple: Bullies Suck.
So everyone go out and punch a bully today. Do it for me. Do it for my ‘medicine cat’.