Monday, November 14, 2011

Bullies are Not Born, They are Raised.

Having a child is the nursery school equivalent of being handed a hunk of plasticine, a pencil and a toothbrush and being told to make something fabulous. There are no clear parameters, you may or may not have the right tools for the job, the beauty and integrity of the finished piece is open to interpretation and at any given moment someone can come along and squish what you have been working so hard to accomplish. But the plasticine is yours and you get to do whatever you want with it.
This week is Peace Week. On Thursday, kids will wear pink in support of anti-bullying. Boys, girls, teachers all wearing pink in an effort to reshape the pieces being moulded by parents who fail to grasp the concept that they have a responsibility to raise healthy well rounded children with respect for society, compassion for their fellow human beings and tolerance.
Think I'm on a soap box? I am! My son gets bullied, he gets bullied by a boy who is half his size, who recruits other kids in a 'hate on for E-man' campaign, He gets bullied because he refuses to play the games that taunt other children, stands up to the kids who do, and asks for help from parents and teachers to put an end to it. The bully lives two houses down the street and so the troubles persist at home, during street hockey and basketball games, on bicycles, skateboards and walks with the dog.
I know that there are 3 reasons people say hurtful things...fear, jealousy, and negative self-worth. I know that two wrongs don't make a right and that the high road is the one less travelled. I also know what it feels like to be a victim, the shame, the sadness, the hurt.
I also understand that it is my responsibility to mould my hunk of plasticine into a well-rounded productive member of society who treats people fairly, with compassion and tolerance.
Lord help me, I get it. I also want lay a great big dose of "in your face" on the bully's father, who threatened my son yesterday and told him to shut the F*#@ up!  Yes, help me because I have to handle things like an adult SHOULD handle things, I have to hold our actions up to our son as an example. I have to hug him and tell him to ignore it, to walk away and pray for this person's healing. I have to explain that the only actions we can control are our own, that bad people will be present in his life from now until forever and that the best he can do is to develop a frame of mind, a personal way to cope. As the words are coming out of my mouth a conflict is raging inside my chest.
Yes, help me, because we are dealing with the situation, empowering our son, talking to the adults, preparing to involve authorities if needed to protect our 9 year old. Help me because I feel like a vein might just burst out of my temple while I suppress my anger so that we can demonstrate civility, compassion and diplomacy to our son and to his bully, who by the shear misfortune of parental neglect of duty doesn't know any better.
People are hurtful for 3 reasons
Negative self-worth

Raise your kids to be confident, content, tolerant and loved...

You are creating the future.

 Gratitude today, that while kids are moulded they are also re-mouldable. Gratitude to all those adults showing kids a better way. Gratitude, to everyone who will wear a pink shirt on Thursday, to all the kids who stand up against bullying, gratitude to the bullied who don't pay the torture forward.
Gratitude, to my son who will wear a pink t-shirt to school. Mostly because he likes the colour pink and understands that incredibly cool boys can wear pink with confidence, he understands this concept so well that he requested pink laces for his hockey skates. He understands too, that pink stands for something, hope, strength and in the case of his t-shirt this week… acceptance. He's going to wear the pink t-shirt to bring awareness to bullying; he will wear it to show a shoulder to shoulder resolve with his peers to put an end to school yard teasing, taunting and aggression.  
And I know that he will hope secretly that he will be spreading a personal message "please leave me alone."