Bullies. I don’t like them. Bullies are people who feed off the misery of others who are not like them. It’s terrible to have to deal with them.
I was bullied. It was so bad I never wanted to go to school, but I did. I wanted to commit suicide, but I didn’t. I hated the kids, the teachers, everyone because it seemed I just didn’t belong. I was different. For whatever reason on this green Earth, I was so different that no one liked me. No, I’m sorry, many people didn’t like me, but for those who did, they truly loved me.
Now my son is beginning to experience the same.
It started since before he was diagnosed with ADHD. We were living in a shelter in 2008 while I was pregnant with Fatty Bo Batty. It was a cold, snowy winter and we were boarded up with a full house of abused women and their children. There was this one woman, who had a little girl named Ella, and she used to pick on my son and me because he had a hard time with impulse control. He was 5, going on 6 at the time.
Then the rest of the women began to turn on me as though they were going to stone me to death for having the odd child, and I felt it was time to leave because if she continued to harass my child and me, it was going to get ugly.
That was only the beginning.
Throughout his educational career, he has been required to move a few times. He has had many school counselors, a mobile therapist, a psychiatrist, and doctors who have seen him through his changes. He was in counseling once a week at school for all these years, and has continued to decline socially due to the lack of discipline or understanding on his father’s part, I assume. Watching his father and I interact couldn’t have possibly helped his view on relationships, or communication much either.
Parents called to have their child moved from being next to him. The unlucky soul who had him last was apparently on his wits end when I was finally in the loop about his behavior. It was gut-wrenching to hear all this. My child was that child. The one who all the parents look at with disgust and I was that mother that all the parents felt they could judge for my son being difficult.
Last year, according to his school psychologists, he was struggling socially. He was dirty, and undisciplined. He was disruptive, and unrefined. He didn’t eat like the other kids. He didn’t sit like the other kids. He talks to himself. He laughs for no reason, especially in uncomfortable silences (its sort of a tick he has) and he is defensive for everything. He just doesn’t know how else to be because so many people have betrayed him emotionally. People have stopped being his friend because he is different, and too many kids don’t understand it.
The trend continues.
The requests, the near begging, has begun.
“I want to switch schools. I hate those kids. I have no friends. No one likes me. Can you please pick me up early from after school?”
I remember the way that felt. I remember feeling alone, like a social leper, just hated and looked down upon. The constant fighting, the bullying, the snide remarks and the sneering looks in my direction. It all comes flashing before my eyes and I feel for my son. The kids pointing and laughing.
And now I see him going through it. Someone tried to trip him during softball. He was forced to the back of the line during basketball and then wasn’t allowed to play when he didn’t want to listen to the kid who demanded he do so. He was talking to himself and some kid interjected, so naturally he became defensive and it almost started a fight. He has a hard time focusing and keeping still. He laughs at weird times. He is required to stay completely quiet and still during their enrichment times and it is hard for him.
I will be talking to the school because it seems that my son is being bullied, and I feel that someone needs to keep a closer eye on him. I would also like to know if it is possible my son is starting the fights. It goes without saying, when I received the warning from one of the administrators it was based on “I heard he started it.” I will speak to someone in regards to his ADHD and explaining to the teachers in the classroom that his random laughter is not to be disruptive on purpose, but it is a tick and somehow uncontrollable. He needs a different kind of attention and although I know it is not the duty of the school to be therapists or anything more than what their job requires, but they do have to be sympathetic and even vigilant that he might have a harder time than other kids when it comes to normal social habits.
You know what hurt the most about the whole thing? That when she saw him coming to me, she was like, “Oooooh mama. That’s your boy?” And all I could feel was my heart dropping into my stomach and the flood of emotions that I knew he was in trouble. All she did was say what he was doing wrong. All she could tell me was she heard he started it. All she could say was he was not behaving and this was the verbal warning and next time it will be a written warning and a three- day suspension. She also had to tell me that she spoke to the parents and assured them that they would warn me of my son’s behavior.
While I can accept that Julian should have made better choices about some of his reactions to other people and their opinions and behaviors, I cannot accept that he is the one being put to shame. Did they discipline the other children? Did they tell the mothers they would assure me that this would no longer be a problem? I’m pretty sure they didn’t get the whole shock-and-awe that their child was theirs. Nor did they feel shameful that their child was also on the verge of a fight.
It is hard to be the mother of a child who has so much more going on in their head and in their bodies than other children. And all we want is for our child to be accepted. I just want everyone to look past his size: the way he towers over other children his age. I want everyone to look past the fact they want children to be nearly grown up because he looks like he should be…
Bullies are cruel. They choose to prey on those who are different. They choose to be mean and snide rather than being understanding and tolerant. I’m cool with bullies in life because, well, they’re everywhere… But I will not allow my son to have to tolerate it if he is going to get in trouble for it. If someone is bullying him, he shouldn’t be the one getting the dirty end of the stick. He is more than willing to defend himself; he is tough like that, but unfortunately they won’t look at the fact that he is defending himself against the bullies who pick on him. They just look at him as he is the problem child.
I do know, however, that some parents can quickly make their child out to be the victim and never let their child see the consequences of their actions if it actually is their fault. I know how damaging to a child that can be because it will lead them to believe that nothing can ever happen to them. Being overprotective will cause them to believe their invincible and I’m all about kids learning the consequences of their actions, even if it’s picking a fight and catching the beat down.
So he is currently punished for the behavior that lent to the issue at hand, because I want him to know that he did not help the situation by becoming defensive and spouting off words or actions in return to the bullying. I understand that he was not all innocent either.
I will make sure my child is not bullied, as well as making sure he does not become a bully. This is going to be a long battle through the rest of his school years, so hopefully we can try to get it somewhat handled before high school…
Has anyone else had any experiences with bullying in your own experience or watching your child go through it? How have you handled (or are handling) the situation? What steps have you taken to make sure your child is safe at school without being that bully yourself towards the teachers?
Check this out, too, for more resources as I am in order to learn better ways to handle it, if you didn’t know already.