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Notes on a Bully

2013 November 20

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So Little D is being bullied at school.

Yes, I am using the “b” word. I know we are all hyper-sensitive to it and that it has strong repercussions these days and it’s beyond a hot topic…but it is what is happening.

She is six and the little girl that is bothering her is also six. They are in grade one. This story is not going to make headlines. It’s not going to end in tragedy. It will probably (hopefully) be nothing but a memory for all of those involved in a matter of days.

But it’s bullying, nonetheless.

It is relentless chasing, cornering, chastising, saying mean things, calling mean names. It is hurt feelings and insecure moments. It is a “tough cookie” who is uncharacteristically starting to crumble a little. It is some plea for control and intimidation on the other girl’s part and probably a little boredom and a call for attention. It is weeks of irritation and frustration that finally came to a boiling point the other night, with tales starting to slowly tumble out…a few in the car ride home. A few more over dinner. A last few at bedtime. Thankfully irritation seems to be the prevailing emotion on D’s part…not sadness or insecurity or fear…yet.

It is a mother whose protective instinct was absolutely on fire. A father who was left angry and saddened. A little girl who decided she “didn’t want to talk about it anymore,” and went back to her art project.

But we wanted to talk about it. We wanted to determine a plan of action, starting with her and how she should react. Then to me, alerting the teacher about the situation so it’s on the radar. Then back to all of us, promising to check in with each other regularly about the issue and whatever progress comes of it. We wanted to reassure her that she’s not at fault. That this is going to stop. That in our family we don’t act like bullies, we don’t like bullies and we don’t tolerate bullying – personally, to our friends, to our family…even, and especially, to kids we don’t even know that well. We wanted to use the opportunity to set a precedence. To explain that this is not the last annoying person she will ever encounter in life. That it’s not the last time someone will make fun of her. Not the last time she’s going to want to skip basketball practice because she feels uncomfortable. Not the last time she’s going to have to stand up for herself. And absolutely not the last time we will have her back.

We wanted to keep talking about it so that hopefully in the future when the kids are older, the emotions are more intense, the stakes are higher and there is so much more to lose…

We won’t have to talk about it.

Yesterday she went to school with her plan in place, a watchful teacher for whom I am very thankful overhead, and a bit of hesitation. And I am happy to say the day ended well. The little girl did approach her at lunchtime and started to say that her teacher had spoken to her…and Little D stood her ground and simply said, “I don’t like when you do that to me.” She said “Ok.” And apparently walked away.

Will that be the end of it? Today will be the test, I suppose. And tomorrow. And next week. And next month. And those days when the teacher has forgotten this was ever an issue and her watchful eye falls a little. And we forget to ask after school if she had any issues. Those days when she’s left to navigate the school yard (and the world) on her own.

Those will be the true test.

I have a feeling she will pass. I hope with all my heart that she will pass.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Liz Duncan permalink
    November 20, 2013

    I think when I’m a parent I will be so quick to defend my child even if it means stepping in myself and that’s probably not the best thing for my child. I think the action you took in your post was the mature and right approach. I will definitely keep it in mind for the future. I also think with parents who are present, like you and your husband, your little D will be just fine!

  2. michelle permalink
    November 20, 2013

    My eyes are welling up reading this. My little ones haven’t quite reached this stage yet but my heart aches nonetheless for little D. You are amazing parents. And she will be better off for the conversations, solutions and bravery that will come from this experience. We’ve all been through bullying at some point and are grateful for it’s lessons… but it is still HARD. Keep up the awesome work=)

  3. stella permalink
    November 20, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this experience. Bullying is the one thing that I fear about my daughter starting elementary school (we still have 2 years to wait). Although she is a confident and outgoing girl now, I know how things can change once you are exposed to all kinds of situations and personalities. The important thing I learned from your situation is to keep the lines of communication open on a regular basis with everyone involved. You must be so proud of Little D for facing her fears and standing up to that girl. Such valuable lessons for life.

  4. November 20, 2013

    Hi !
    Normally, i don’t comment on blog posts (at least not in public) but I just really wanted to tell you: wow.
    Such an amazing post on bullying; really really good.
    One of the best I’ve ever read.
    I wish a lot more people would say or know this.
    I’m just 16 years old and this is definitely an actual issue in my everyday-life.
    And I just hope that one day I will be an even half as good mother to my children as you are.
    Thank you very, very much…

  5. Brynn permalink
    November 20, 2013

    Beautifully written, as always. x

  6. Karsha permalink
    November 20, 2013

    This sucks. Sending Little D (and YOU) lots of positive vibes.

  7. November 20, 2013

    This is my worst fear. Sorry to hear about this. Little D will prevail.

  8. Jennifer permalink
    November 21, 2013

    Sounds like you are teaching your daughter the best thing: to stand up for herself and stand her ground. It’s actually a blessing for her to learn this at a young age, because like you say- it won’t be the last time she encounters an asshole. When I was 10, I got relentlessly teased and taunted by a boy in my class. I felt bothered, uncomfortable, and at times humiliated. Teachers knew but didn’t seem to really do anything about it, so finally I got sick of it. One day I was approaching the lunch table where he and a bunch our of friends were sitting (it was a small school so everyone in the class pretty much hung together). He started to call me a name, and I don’t know WHAT came over me, but without giving it a second thought or responding to him with words, I calmly placed my tray on the table, slowly opened my milk carton, and dumped it all over his lap. The look on his face was priceless, and he pretty much stopped bothering me after that. Playground justice.
    Good luck with everything 🙂

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