I wish it wasn’t the case, but bullies are a part of growing up. Everyone probably has at least one story from their childhood of bullying. My stories aren’t like the ones you see on TV. No one stuffed me in a locker or threw my books on the ground. But I definitely had my share of unkind words, whispering, and being left out of the “in” crowd.
Subtle bullying, if you will.
I’m a child of the 80s and 90s, so I thought, and I really hoped, that my children would be spared with all of the messaging out there to be kind and inclusive. And while no one has been shoved in a locker yet, a small amount of bullying is rearing its head this year for my 10-year-old.
It’s easy to be oblivious to the negative chatter. But every so often, a bully gets lazy. And you hear how your clothes aren’t the right brand, your lunch was weird, your hair is a mess, and your body is the wrong size. You’re not smart enough, or you’re too smart, so you’re the teacher’s pet.
And that’s what’s been happening with my daughter. She hears the whispers, the dirty looks, and the sneers. Again, it’s not a daily thing. It’s not a monthly thing. But it happens. And when it does, it hurts.
I have a bad habit of trying to be the fixer. You may read these posts and think I’m a patient mom. I try to be, but the truth is as soon as one of my daughters is upset, I try to fix it. Last week, she came home and heard something said about her. I wanted to run right to that school and fix it.
But she didn’t need fixing. She just needed to be.
And so, she climbed onto my lap, as best as she could fit now that we’re almost the same height, put her face in my chest, and cried. A lot. And when she was finally ready to hear what I had to say, I shared the only knowledge I could with her.
When someone speaks about you in a nasty way, it’s more about them than you. They need to feel better, so you need to feel worse. They need to feel important, so you need to be inconsequential. Negative words and actions are how they build up their self-esteem. They need a target. It’s you today. It could be someone else tomorrow.
It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it’s another part of growing up in a world that can sometimes be unkind. And a reminder that though I can’t protect my daughters from the world around them, I can do my best to prepare them. To be ready for the good days and the bad, and to surround themselves with the people who make them feel good and forget about the rest.