So, in a world where bullies exist without logic and people you love are hurt and sometimes changed forever because of it, what do you do. I have come across plenty of people, in various age groups who simply believe that bullying is not an issue and it is being blown all out of proportion. You would be hard pressed to convince me of that. I lived through it forty years ago and it deeply effected me. I spent years dealing with the aftermath alone. It effected my self esteem and how I handled the people in my life for years.
So what can we do? First and foremost, spend time with your child. Help them talk about how this makes them feel and constantly reassure them. If for any reason you feel like you are not getting through to them, get them counseling. There is no shame in that. We as parents need to recognize when something is beyond our abilities. Your child comes first. Besides myself, two of our children went to counseling because of bullying.
As a former Board Member for a school district, I can tell you that it is very frustrating to deal with schools regarding this issue. In my opinion, schools in general have mishandled bullying. Number one, the legal definition of bullying states that the "event" must have happened multiple times. I heartily disagree. Once is enough for me. Why should any child feel unsafe at school. If it happens just once, there is a good chance that your child will start looking over his or her shoulder all the time, waiting for the second "event".
Schools now want a report filed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it starts a paper trail at the very least. The problem with it is that a lot of administrators don't believe in it and/or don't even know that the form exists. As a Board Member/President I was to receive a report every six months. One time, there were no incidences. REALLY? Six months later, we suddenly had 26 incidences. The other problem I see with the reports is that it basically perpetuates the idea of "Victims". They encourage people to "tattle" but then offer no solution.
In my experience it is rare to find an administrator or a staff member who believes that bullying is real and is willing to do more than just accept a report. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and be a hardcore advocate for your child.
The "Surprise" was always very imaginative as a little guy. I don't know why, he already had so many siblings to entertain him. But anyway, he would go off on his own and come up with some amazing things. As I have said, we have an unusual household, and we generally just take things in stride. A lot seems to occur when I head to the grocery store. HMMM.
Came home from shopping one day and walked out onto the deck. This was years before the table was shot. "Surprise" was probably only three or four. I immediately noticed a rope strung from the deck to a tree in the yard. Weird. I have a dryer - are you kidding, dry my clothes outside with this mob? Nothing was hanging from it. I was bewildered of course. So, I cautiously started asking each little human that walked through if they knew anything about that rope. (Keep in mind, no one EVER knows anything or does anything in our house.)
I never really thought to ask "Surprise" because he was so little. With all the others already interrogated and pleading ignorant, I went to the youngest. I was sure he would at least rat someone out. I was more than a little amused by the answer. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Well, you know Godzilla lives in our pond." Now most adults would immediately dispute this with something like, "now you know Godzilla is just a movie and isn't real." But as I have said I have learned to just roll with it. So I simply said, "Really. I did not know that. What does that have to do with the rope?" Again, he looked me straight in the eye and very innocently said, "Well, if Godzilla decides to come to our house, he will get caught in the rope and we will be safe."
Can't argue with that logic. Thanks "Surprise" for always thinking these things through and keeping us safe! What would we have done without you?!!
Our household is a little unusual. Sometimes, you never know what you are going to come home to! We live out in the country and we own guns. Plain and simple. I came home from shopping two summers ago, "Doc" was home early that day, and "Pook" was helping him with some things around the house. I should have noticed that everyone was being a little cautious around me, but like I said, our household is a little unusual.
It was a gorgeous day, and I walked out on the deck. I think we were talking about the yard and the patios. I am not sure. Anyway, my husband started asking me if I was looking for new patio furniture. Our furniture was fine, we had a nice set that included a dining table and a taller bar-type table and stools. Notice that I said "had". Of course, I said "no, why." Then I looked down from the second story deck and noticed my bar table with no glass. "Well, I may have shot the table".
Now I am fairly certain that is not a statement most wives hear from their husbands. "Pook" immediately started laughing and proceeded to tell me a similar scenario - you know, coming home to unusual things. He came home and found his father vacuuming the lava rocks in my flower beds and asked what he was doing.
Apparently, "Doc" decided to do a little shooting off the deck towards our ravine. The rifle slipped and the bullet hit the glass table that was on a lower deck waiting to be cleaned. As for me, I spent the next hour with a bewildered look on my face. All I could think to say was "You shot my table, it was part of a set!" Never a dull moment at our house. Today, I am purchasing a new set. This one will be wooden.
I need a little break from the heavier discussions.
Interesting - both "Mommy" and "Mini-Me" decided to have pictures of my grandchildren done on Saturday. Because she lives closer, I went with "Mini-Me" to lend an extra pair of hands. The memories came flooding back. Now I know I am aging because when my children were born, their hospital photos consisted of a blue or pink blanket depending on whether they were male or female and a quick photo that made them look like little monkeys because the picture was taken right after they got drops in their eyes. I don't care what anyone says, those pictures were not cute. But we bought them anyway and handed them out proudly didn't we?!
First official pictures were never taken until around six weeks. At that time photographers just didn't do that. Now, we like to get pictures in two weeks or less. Babies are posed in cute things like bowls and baskets and are often naked. A newborn without a diaper is cute and potentially messy. I am amazed at how the photos come out - and a little jealous.
So I went with my daughter to help. Wait - no one ever helped me!!!. Imagine this scenario. Six small children ages 6 months to 11 years. The 11 year old is a perfectionist and needs to look perfect. Oh yes, she wants to hold the "Surprise". As "Mommy" it is her entitlement. But wait, "Calvin" who is all energy and motion wants to hold the "Surprise". The "Surprise" is a boy and should be held by his brother, not a girl! "Mini-Me" and the "Blonde" are indifferent to the whole thing and "Pook" is not interested in not being muddy or unable to play for that period of time. So, I finally handle the dispute by giving in. "You will both have pictures taken holding the "Surprise"."
To some degree, you want them to be dressed nicely for pictures. That can be accomplished without too much fanfare. The girls are of course anxious to be "dolled up" and very cooperative. "Calvin" and "Pook" are placed in nice clothes but promptly become half naked and/or sloppy multiple times enroute to the studio. Thankfully at this point, the "Surprise" is somewhat compliant due to age or lack thereof.
"Doc" has often said that those group photos are more a statement about me than how beautiful our family is. The ability to corral six children, get them into dress clothes, get them to a studio without a fight or a black eye and then have them smile in a perfectly photogenic way is no small feat. By the way, I gave up on the perfect picture when "Calvin" was born. He was rough and tumble and if I waited for bruises and scrapes to go away we would never have had a photo of him. I also gave in on facial expressions - if that's what they want to look like for posterity, so be it. It is what it is.
All in all, we have some stunning family photos that were taken throughout the years. I would like to think that the family love always shined through. Others would say, I should have been a drill sergeant if I was able As for me, the kids looked great but I was always disheveled and near tears and definitely ready for a relaxing glass of wine when all was said and done.
Okay, so still back at the beginning, what is wrong with me, my kids, my friend that I/we/they get targeted by bullies. Absolutely nothing. What I have found in reading, talking, watching is that there is no one reason why someone gets targeted. It is generally random. The bully or bullies do their thing and move on to someone else for a completely different reason. It is not because you are too fat, too skinny, too tall, or too short. But - those are the kinds of things you get hit with and it makes you feel like there really is something wrong with you.
I have seen solo bullies and bullies that run in packs. Both are vicious with the "fun" they are having. Again, bullying can be as subtle as a look that makes you feel uncomfortable every time you are around. It can be as simple as a whisper and a giggle between people when you walk into a room. It can become more blatant with remarks made out loud as you walk by or gestures. It can be more physical like being verbally or physically threatened. It can actually be physical harm. The emotional damage is always there.
I have found that bullies get some immediate satisfaction out of what they are doing. In some strange way it makes them feel stronger and better about themselves. I have had numerous conversations with my kids and have told them that the bully is actually the one with low self-esteem. They need to do these things to make themselves feel better than everyone else. They are unable to improve their self-esteem in a healthy way. Having had those conversations with my kids, and having gone through it myself - that does not help you when you are the target.
It also does not help, knowing as I do now that they generally have no clue what they have done to you. I can remember being terrified to go to my class reunion and how sick I felt when that group of girls showed up. My body tensed up and I suppose I was waiting for food to be thrown at me or to hear some nasty comment. Imagine my shock when I was greeted like a long lost best friend!!!
Stay tuned to start talking about what we can do for our kids.
Okay, so I think we can agree that being the "victim" of bullying hurts. It is also definitely one of those times when you can tell your kids that it hurts me as much if not more than it hurts you. I really don't like using the term "victim". We only become victims if we allow ourselves to be victims. We will get to that soon. In the meantime, let's keep building on the core of bullying.
I received some comments on the last entry. One theme that repeats itself is "Why me?". When you are bullied, even if you are a strong Christian person and/or have a great family situation and support, you can't help but wonder what is wrong with you. Am I ugly, am I creepy or weird or gross, do I wear weird clothes? It gets really confusing because a lot of time, the people who bully you were your friends a few weeks ago. You try to figure out what you did to provoke this.
So, at this point, you are sure that you are alone and the only one who has ever had this happen to them and it must be because something is wrong with you. In reality, it is not you at all. If it is your child being bullied, it isn't them either.
What I can tell you next is that bullies are everywhere. I believe that they used to exist mostly in the high school age range. What I know now, is that there are bullies in the workplace - coworkers and bosses. They still exist in high school. Sometimes it is between the students, sometimes it is staff to student, student to staff and even staff to staff. It creeped into the middle school where it can get particularly brutal because of unstable hormones and behaviors during that age. Finally, it is now in the elementary schools.
Girls used to be particularly vicious and "catty" with looks, talking behind your back in front of you, gossiping, isolating. Boys used to be more physical. Beating someone up, threatening. The two groups have now blended with boys exhibiting what used to be girl behavior and vice versa. Nothing surprises me anymore with the behaviors. It is a sad statement on humanity that we do not have to accept quietly any more!!!
Okay, so there is a lot more to say on this subject and it will take a while! One question you can start asking is "How do I know if my child is being bullied?" Well, you may not. If you have a really good relationship with your child, he or she may confide in you. Often they won't. In spite of the fact that being bullied is very painful emotionally and sometimes physically, and in spite of the fact that the child who is being bullied feels incredibly alone, you need to understand that the child is also extremely embarrassed. They are confused by what is happening and humiliated by it.
If you have a close relationship, you may notice behavior changes in your child. The changes may be subtle. The child may just get a little quieter. Sometimes they will act out, and get angry. Sometimes, they will simply do their best to hide everything to act normal, because they do not want to be in this situation. It feels lousy.
The signs could be blatant or they could be hidden. You may notice a change in grades, a change in friends. Sometimes, sadly the only way you find out is if a friend or staff member at school tells you or sadly, when something bad happens.
I have a good friend who explained to me that someone who is bullied will react in one of three ways. They will lash out, they will internalize it or they will seek counseling. For me, I internalized it. I became the subject of my anger. I was certain that something was wrong with me even though I was supposedly one of the "popular" kids. I made sure that no one knew the hell I was going through. I wasn't going to be a big baby too. Besides, in my mind no one cared. And maybe, even probably I deserved it. These are some of the thoughts that go through your head when you are bullied.
Whether your kids are bullied or not, keep close to them. Know them, be aware of their activities and friends. TALK TO THEM!!!!
Have you ever tried to plan a vacation for 16 people?! It is interesting to say the least. The first issue is trying to pick a date that suits everyone. Let me assure you that this task is impossible. We have been trying to schedule at least one vacation a year at the most convenient time for the most people. We have resolved ourselves to the fact that we may not get everyone and will be happy with what we get. So, we have picked the date. The announcement is out.
Step two is deciding where to stay. Do we all stay in one huge house, do we get multiple small houses, do we just get hotel rooms? Can we tolerate each other in one closed space and for how long?
Another thought, how do we find activities to make everyone happy? Where do we go? How do we handle meals? Thank God the Ninja is experienced in scheduling this stuff. I would quit and stay home in my quiet (haha) house and do laundry and yard work if I had to book this fiasco!
As a mom, get used to the idea that the definition of the word "vacation" is a bald faced lie! When you go on a family "vacation" there is no relaxation involved!. Your job goes with you. The biggest difference is a change of scenery and activities. You still track everyone, make sure there is food and schedule the day. Did I mention that you even do a little more refereeing than usual?
Do I sound like I am complaining? All in all, vacations are great just as they are. After all, it is where some of our vest family stories come from!!!!
This is a subject that I have been putting off for a while. Partly because I have been having so much fun telling stories on the kids and mostly because it is pretty painful. It is not easy to talk about. Everyone was home for Pascha. I enjoyed every minute and watched my children with great pride and admired the strong adults that they have become. I guess it was then, that I decided that it was time to let you know. I was bullied. Five of my six children were bullied. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. You cannot control who they are or why they choose to bully your child. Suffice to say that they exist.
Not everyone will agree on my take on bullies. A significant number of people will tell you that there is no such thing. It is simply a matter of kids being kids. Others will finally admit that they exist but don't want to do anything about it. Others want to do something but don't know what to do and in my opinion many groups are making money off the topic and doing the wrong things.
Bullying is not a new creation. It has existed for many years. I was bullied in high school and that was forty years ago. It is part of who I am now. I can still remember people who thought were my friends suddenly ganging up on me. I didn't know why. I would be laughed at, talked about, left out of things. I had food thrown at me routinely during lunch. I went to my parents and there response was to consider the source and ignore it. It left me feeling pretty isolated and helpless. It has left some scars, the wounds have healed but not without a lot of work. The scars make me very sensitive to people's feelings and angry that bullying continues. By the way, the bullies as well as everyone who watched it happen, have no clue what I was put through and what it did to me.
The pain of bullies is intensified when you see it happen to your child. Maybe that is unique to me because it happened to me. Not only did I hurt for myself through the memories that flooded back, but I ached and cried for my children and their pain. I wanted to help them and did not want them to deal with it alone.
So, for today, that is my first piece of advice. Focus on your child. Acknowledge that they have been hurt and that you are there. The loneliness of being bullied is excruciating. They need to know how much they are loved and that you will do everything within your power to help them and support them. PLEASSE make sure that they know
In our church, we take communion on a regular basis and we are also to take confession periodically during the year and as needed. Part of the preparation for confession and communion by fasting, which means no meat or dairy products, and also prayer. God is a lot smarter than some people think. The above is not only important for church, it is also critical for survival as a mother! It all leads to lessons in patience and trust in a higher being.
It teaches you and your children to trust in a higher being. You pray to God that you can hold it all together every day. Your kids better learn to pray to God also that you hold it all together.
The reward comes when the day is over and you look at them sleeping like angels as they sleep (right before they wake up and join you in bed). It also comes when they are so proud of the work they do in school and bring home papers to hang on the refrigerator. It comes when they graduate from high school and college. And finally the reward comes when they have children of their own and you sit back and giggle while they learn about the same patience you built them with! God I love gran
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!