I called my mother the other day. We were catching up, and we got to talking about MARYMORPHOSIS. I told her about my post “MEAN”-ing.
Together we recalled how horrible and nasty those girls were to me in middle school.
Then she said, “Oh! Did I tell you that one of those girls ran by my house recently?”
Mom, “Yes. She stopped and introduced herself. She lives right up the street in that house where Mr. So-and-So used to live.
Me, “And? Then what? Who was it???”
Mom, “She said that she was awful to you in middle school. She admitted to terribly bullying you. She apologized to me. I can’t remember her name.”
Me, “She apologized to YOU?”
Mom, “Yes. She told me that she has middle school kids and that she does not want that to happen to them.”
My. My. My.
I wish I knew who it was that owned up to it. I also wish that that woman would apologize to me- not my mother. I am pretty sure that she could find me, by social media or otherwise. She could have asked my mom how to find me- right?
I am not holding my breath.
And I am so happy that this bully now is aware of the potential effects on her children; that she recognized her mistake. I really and truly hope that mean kids spare her children.
My boys start school in just nine days, and all three will be in middle school this year. I am biting my nails. I am not ready. I am not talking about the 3″ binders and #2 Ticonderoga pencils ready, my friends. I am talking about being mentally ready.
Middle school can be a fire pit.
SO many people reached out to me after I wrote “MEAN”-ing. Many could relate. Many have children who are victims of bullying. It is an epidemic. And there does not seem to be a vaccine.
It is highly contagious.
Victims are the hosts. And they are eaten alive by their peers who are cowards, hiding behind social media and electronics.
With Instagram and Snapchat kids can post pretty much anything they want. They can comment any way they want. And with social media like Snapchat, the evidence disappears in about ten seconds. It is easy to get away with it.
And that child who is on the other side is powerless and victimized.
And those feelings don’t go away in ten seconds. They may never go away.
Don’t get me wrong, the folded square notes I found in my locker were painful. But social media is a killer. And it can be, literally, too.
I could put my thermometer on the radiator for days and miss school. But now? There is absolutely no way to escape. Those electronics are inescapable.
My son just told me of how a girl from his grade posted a photo of her family on the beach during their summer vacation. Some kids commented on her photo in which she was wearing a bathing suit. She was at the beach.
They called her “Shreck” and other names. She took the picture down.
Another instance? My friend’s son posted a gorgeous image of a rainbow he saw in on vacation in Maine. He was called “gay.” Hm.
A child who is very close to my heart suffered from bullying in grade 5. Several boys would taunt him, stomp on his foot, call him names and steal his lunchbox and throw it across the cafeteria.
This boy who had always been gregarious and well liked all of a sudden withdrew. He did not smile. He refused to take his puffy winter jacket off in the hot classroom because he said that it was his “protective armor.”
Doesn’t that break your heart?
Everybody, guess what? That happened recently.
For three months, the mother contacted the school. The boy reached out to the school on numerous occasions. Then, the mom put her foot down.
And finally, an action was taken. The parents were called in. The school intended to contact the police if the boys did not cease.
But it took three months for the school to take it seriously and do something.
Although there is a “no tolerance” policy in our schools, it STILL happens.
What are we going to do about this? How can we stop this? We need to educate our kids not only on what it means to be a bully but how it affects others.
Sit down with your kids before that first day of school. Explain that their devices can be a source of entertainment and fun and a way in which to connect with their friends. We need to educate our children that phones can be weapons too.
Tell them to put their weapons down.
Can we model the Golden Rule? Please?