A while back, my youngest son comes into my room crying. He asks me to come with him. He likes to Skype with his friends from school so I thought nothing of it. Apparently he had found a friend he didn’t know from school, another boy around his age, to play Minecraft with. This boy along with 2 others were bullying my son. I read the texts back and forth and was not too happy with what I saw.
While sitting there, the boy “skyped” my son. So I answered. (note, neither have their webcams on). I hear a young voice pop up and I say hello, that I’m the mom and I don’t appreciate him harassing my kid.
He proceeds to curse at me and then tells me I “sound like an 80 yr old woman.” I, of course burst out laughing because it was so…. dumb. I told him thank you, and goodbye.
Here comes in the difference between being a bullied CHILD and a “bullied” adult: I then went in and blocked the contacts. I then deleted the contacts. I am an adult, so I took control. I then asked him…. “Who are these people to you?” My son had felt helpless, he is a child. It’s to be expected. As adults, WE control how we feel. WE control who we listen to. WE control how we react.
Tears still in his eyes, though a little less so after the eruption of laughter….. he asks me how to deal with this. The thing is, he is bullied all the time. At school, online etc.. I tried to explain to him that when you think for yourself, and march to the beat of your own drum, people feel threatened by that. They don’t like it. Since the dawn of time, those who are different have been persecuted for it. He really enjoys being in his own world and I commend him for that. He has his very own story line and he isn’t afraid to speak up. As his mother, it is my job not to “fix” it all for him, but to aid him in getting a hold of the situation. Yes, I step in when needed, but I won’t be able to fight his battles forever.
I have become so accustomed to being “hated” on, it surprises me to have anyone actually take the time to get to know me. I grew up being pushed around, having my hair pulled (I grew up with Shirly Temple curls), being called ugly, fat, weird etc. Groups of kids would wait at the bus stop after school to “beat me up.” I once was pushed around and picked on so badly on my bus, I ended up having a panic attack. My mom had to work to support us so nobody was really there to “defend” me. I had to learn on my own. Looking back, I was that little girl who picked out her own clothes did her own hair and her own thing. I didn’t like to take my shoes off, I wasn’t very fond of people seeing my feet. This made for difficult nap times in Kindergarten, time-outs were often. I was bossy. It was my way or the highway. I had a temper too. I wanted to do things myself. To put it frankly, I was a real pain in the ass. I was also quiet. Reserved. Lived in my own head. The perfect victim.
By high school, the bullying was just a day to day thing for me. I ignored it. Read my books on the bus, retreated into my own mind for comfort. One day in Drama class, I happened to see one of the boys who bullied me sitting alone. My curiosity got the better of me and I went over and quietly asked him, “why do you pick on me?”
He told me, “because you look like you can handle it. I’m expected to be this big ‘jock’ and to be popular, so I do it to get a laugh from my friends.” I understood, I was shocked. It was literally as though he was hoping I’d ask so he could just rid himself of the guilt. That day on, he never bullied me the same way again. We actually “teased” each other more than anything. No, we never became friends, but I understood. It was no excuse by any stretch of the imagination. Bullies are people too. Something drives them to do what they do. Whether it’s low self-esteem, family expectations or just fearing what they don’t understand.
Not everyone can “handle” it though. I had far worse things to deal with so the bullying was breeze when put into perspective. It helped me release those feelings of “sorrow” when people were mean and replace them with more curiosity as to why they behaved the way they did.
In the long run. Learning how to react to bullying as a child, helps as you get older. The problem is, not every child has a good support system to help them deal with it. Every person is different. I let my kids know to be there for those who might be bullied. Stand up for them and offer them support. As adults, we should do the same. Instead of attacking others, we should try to understand them instead.