There are so many issues kids today deal with. Many are the same things we dealt with, but they are on a whole new playing field when you bring the Internet and cell phones into the mix.
I have been bullied over the years, in many different forms. Some of these are brushed off as normal “kid stuff”, but they really impacted my development, and how I treat others. I have a few particular incidents that really have stayed with me my entire life. These are situations where I may have been bullied- or witnessed bullying and not stood up to the bully, for fear of being the victim.
Once as a young kid, maybe 9 or so, I was waiting outside a friends house for her. There was a bully in our neighborhood and I was trying to stay under his radar, so I was in the habit of scanning the street for him..So far so good..I heard a male voice and turned. I saw the bully, standing there crying and an adult man (I assume his dad) was changing a tire on a car, while berating this boy. He was calling him names and taunting him for crying. My view of him changed that day, even at the young age of 9. I knew he was dealing with some bad stuff at home and I suddenly felt extremely sorry for him. I actually mustered up the guts to say something to that guy. I have no idea where this came from inside me, and I couldn’t stand this boy, so why the heck would I put my neck out for him? Couldn’t tell ya, but I did. I remember the whole thing so clearly. I was actually wearing pajamas and had bare feet. I marched over on that dirt parking lot and said in my 9 year old shaky voice “he isn’t a baby for crying YOU are a baby for teasing”. Yea, I know..not the most threatening thing I could have said. I wasn’t used to standing up to adults, and its all I could come up with I guess. The dad just laughed at me, and then continued to mock and taunt his son by saying “you need a little girl to stand up for you??” I guess I’d made it worse.
I remember another day..I was friends with 3 other girls, all of us lived near each other. There was, like in most cliques, a “ring leader” who seemed to call all the shots and we followed like sheep. We were still young, grammar and middle school aged. If she was mad at you for something (and she usually was) then the whole group was mad at you. We didn’t dare hang out with each other without her, she’d be mad. We didn’t dare make plans and not ask her, she’d be mad. We didn’t dare do anything it seemed. What a sad thing. Like living under an 11 yr olds thumb.
One day she was mad at a fellow sheep. The sheep was walking home ahead of us, not allowed to walk with us, and I was with the wolf behind her-maybe 15 feet or so. The wolf proceeded to loudly bounce this hard red rubber school ball and make comments.. I cant remember what I did, but I know I didn’t stand up to her. Suddenly, the ball leaves her hands as she whips it and hits the back of the sheep’s head. I remember that sound. I remember seeing her head snap forward as the ball hit her. My heart broke, my stomach lurched. I couldn’t believe it…but did nothing to stop it.
Another time we were on a walking field trip, and I was someone elses partner. God forbid!! How dare I do such a thing? did I have a death wish? We walked to a nursing home to sing Christmas Carols. Standing in front, regrouping, the wolf is at the front of the line, me and my forbidden partner at the rear. I hear her yell my name across all of the students and I looked up. Was she forgiving me? We were friends again? Maybe she wanted us to come to the front with her? She says “You cant come in, it says on the sign no dogs allowed”.
Fast forward to 7th grade. The ‘in’ thing was high topped Reeboks. You had to have them, they were the be all end all to 7th grade footwear. I can remember vividly- they were $50. That was a huge amount of money for sneakers then, and really unheard of at that point. My mom got us knock offs and honestly, to me they looked the same, and I was perfectly happy. I wore them proudly, with my thick colorful socks, skinny jeans all tucked in. Yea, I liked these. Until I got to school and got the ‘up down” and then “Oh I used to have sneakers just like that!..then my father got a job” *evil smirk*.
I lived this way for years. Fearful of doing or saying something wrong. Afraid to crush on the wrong boy- what if SHE liked him? Always trying to wear things that were cool enough, but not daring to try anything cooler than her.
I remember getting a crimping iron. This was one of the first out there and we had to get it at a beauty supply store. This was a big deal and I was delighted. We were just getting into MTV and Nina Blackwood and Martha Quinn crimped their hair- I couldn’t WAIT! My mom helped. I went to the wolf’s house, hair crimped. She was actually impressed, and wanted to crimp her hair too – YES!! Success, I would be allowed to keep my crimper! Her mom walked in, and the wolf pointed out my hair. Her mother gave this look of distaste and said “couldn’t you get the same look by just braiding it?” Instant deflation, then anger set in and the crimper was forgotten about.
There were soo so many of these instances that went on. These are just a few of the ones that jump out at me. Why could I stand up to a grown man but not to a girl my age?
Girls are a different breed than boys. Boys duke it out on the playground and move on. Girls are sneaky, manipulative and professionals at emotional warfare. They gossip, back stab and connive. I am so thankful there was no Internet or cell phones back in those days, I had enough trouble.
I think these experiences made me appreciate true female friendship. I cherish my sister. I am extremely loyal to the solid female friends that I have.
If you are a woman, or girl, please support each other, don’t tear each other down. In the end, did the wolf feel better for these incidents? Who knows…but I am guessing ultimately not, unless she’s a sociopath. Something was going on in her head to make her act this way, and want to have this control over us. Maybe she felt out of control at home. Honestly- I don’t care enough to analyze it. It was a relief when we parted ways, and I haven’t looked back.
Ladies- dump the baggage. If someone is treating you badly, ditch them. Its them, not you. Don’t blame yourself. Just respect each other, even the people you can’t stand. It makes you a better, stronger person in the end, and that’s all that ultimately matters- how you feel about yourself in your heart.