A Pledge Against Bullying

     I recently found a blog dedicated to getting mom bloggers to pledge not to be online bullies. It’s a neat site. You agree that, basically, you won’t be a jerk. It just asks that you express your opinions in a non-jerk way, and don’t criticize people, specifically moms, who do things differently than you do. It’s a good promise to make. I watched a piece on the Today show called “Mommy Meanest” about how some people apparently don’t have anything to do with their time aside from hopping from one blog to another and leaving hateful comments.

     Like most things, this got me thinking. Bullying seems like a real issue these days, both online and in person. Luckily, my son has never had major issues with this. He’s had a few run-ins during his public school days, but nothing too traumatic. Some of his friends have had real problems, though, and I especially notice how nasty little girls seems to be these days. This lead me to a rather obvious conclusion–apparently the online mom bullies are reproducing. There’s a scary thought.

     Obviously, this type of hateful language is a learned behavior. It’s really not that hard to figure out. Growing up with a severely disabled sister meant I saw and heard lots of things that I’m sure qualified as bullying. The one big physical altercation I was involved in as a child resulted from a girl making a comment about my sister that I didn’t approve of. Now my daughter, also disabled, though in very different ways, is in school and away from me all day. Now, Evelyn could give a crap about what anyone says.  It’s more the idea of it that bugs me.  She’s in a classroom for moderate and severely impaired kids, and I know sometimes people stare and make rude comments. Once, when she first started in school, I went to pick her up a little early for an appointment. As we were going down the stairs, a bigger kid, maybe a third or fourth grader, was a flight above us. He was making what sounded like a little bird call, but what he was saying was “re-tard, re-tard,” in a sing-song way, so maybe I wouldn’t know what he was saying.


     So, I did what any mature adult would do and just ignored him.

     Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! If you actually believe that, then you don’t know me very well, do you? What I actually did was stop and wait for him, pretending that I was looking in Evelyn’s bag so he wouldn’t know I was lying in wait for him, and then caught him as he went by. I stepped in front of him and asked him what his name was. He didn’t want to tell me. I told him it didn’t matter if he told me or not, that I knew what he said, and I thought it was a shame that he was already so mean at such a young child, because he didn’t stand a chance when he was an adult. I also told him that I had better not find out that he ever said anything to or about my daughter again, or I would talk to him and his parents personally. Then I marched right up to the principal’s office and told the principal what had happened. He assured me he would handle it.

     I over-reacted. I know this. It was just some little punk whose parents are probably big punks, and he didn’t know any better. Evelyn didn’t know anything about what he was saying. The person who came out on the bad end of that deal was, of course, me. I was stressed and angry for hours after that, I cried, I said all sorts of unladylike things, just typical melodramatic b.s. It murdered my soul to think that my little girl would be on the outside of things, always different, always left out, and always left behind.

     Obviously, thee were a lot of deep-rooted issues there that I have learned to deal with over the years. No one wants their kids to suffer, but the important thing is that you teach them how to deal with those types of situations. The world is full of jerks. Sooner or later, you’re going to run into one. It’s hard to tone down those mother lion instincts–it’s still something I deal with. I just try to tell myself that I am a role model for my kids (now THERE’S a scary thought) and I want to do the best I can for them. I have to teach them how to deal with people who might be mean to them. You have to handle the situation with maturity, and don’t let the things the jerks say hurt you. And if that doesn’t work, kick their ass.

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8 Comments on "A Pledge Against Bullying"

  1. Angela
    16/04/2011 at 11:37 pm Permalink

    Maybe an overreaction but first instinct is to protect your child. I probably would have done the same thing. It scares me to think that bullying is getting worse instead of better over the years. I’m a new follower http://angela-mommytimeout.blogspot.com

  2. Christina Moore
    16/04/2011 at 11:47 pm Permalink

    Great blog, Janice. I don’t agree necessarily that you over-reacted. We must let kids know that someone is watching their behavior and when it’s bad that we do not approve. I definately agree that little girls are very nasty these days. I remember how it was when I was young and we had mean girls, but they were more subtle and clique-ish. I’ve seen so many incidents of very “in-your-face” exclusion, name-calling, teasing and so forth and it sets my hair on fire every time. Mostly because the majority of time I’ve witnessed it at the park with mothers and fathers standing right there. I’ve yet to see one call their son or daughter down. I have however been in confrontations with those parents because I’ve said something either to them or their kids. If we as parents do not teach our children to be kind, helpful, empathetic, and protective of their peers then this will turn from an epidemic into a acceptable social norm by the time our children have children of their own.

  3. dosweatthesmallstuff
    17/04/2011 at 12:03 am Permalink

    Hi Janice, I feel ya! I think we mama bears tend to be overprotective of our lil ones, but it kinda goes with the territory, I guess. I’ve worried about bullying and how it might affect my daughter, and you betcha I would do the same to that bully boy if I were put in your position. It’s crazy when you think about it, I mean, don’t parents teach their kids things as basic as “no bullying?” And yet bullying is increasingly rampant, more so with the internet and all.

    I know the road ahead might not be so smooth for Evelyn, but I think the best we can do for our kids is to raise them to be good individuals themselves regardless of how others are. It’s definitely easier said than done, but since we can’t change other people, the next best thing is to change ourselves for the better. It’s always a step in the right direction 🙂

  4. The Mom Pledge
    17/04/2011 at 10:27 pm Permalink

    OK, I am the creator of The Mom Pledge, and I wanted to take that boy down reading this! My daughter is only two, so I haven’t had to deal with this yet. But my reaction to your experience was so strong, I can see I need to sit down and think about how I will handle it when it happens. (Notice I didn’t say, “if.”)

    I actually think the way you handled it was good. It’s different with children. In many cases, they just don’t know there is anything wrong with their behavior, because no one has told them. Or, they know it’s wrong, but they don’t get how it impacts the other person. We assume they have a moral compass because we do as adults. But they have to be taught to have one. If no one ever stands up and says, “No, that’s wrong,” they’ll just keep behaving that way.

    Which is precisely why we need The Mom Pledge. If I have the attitude that it is OK to get online and bully people, how is that translating into actions my daughter can see and learn from? I have to lead by example and show her what is right and wrong.

    I’m so glad you found our community! Welcome!

  5. Janice
    18/04/2011 at 9:30 am Permalink

    What I try to tell my son is that if you don’t stand up for yourself, you do become a target. The heart of bullying is that you are picking on someone who can’t (or won’t!) stand up for themselves. Luckily, my son is like me–sort of loud. Not really in an in-your-face kind of way, but just very frank. He also has a pretty large circle of friends, and I think that helps too. I think with boys bullying tends to be very staight-forward. Those little girls are what blows my mind. They are NASTY! Even the circle of friends seems to be very unstable–one day they are friends and the next day they aren’t. And Kimmybee, I hear what you are saying about the over sexualization. What was a problem with toilet humor has morphed into a problem with sexual stuff. The saddest part (to me, anyway) is that there is usually one kid who propogates it. Half of the time, the other kids are talking about stuff that they don’t really even understand. That makes it dangerous too, though. You always underestimate what you don’t understand.

    I do homeschool my son now, but it was primarily for educational purposes. We live in a sadly rural area, and our school system is a catastrophe. Big time. It’s so scary though, and so sad. What kind of adults are these people going to be? Oh wait, I know–the kind who harass other people and tear them down. Right.

  6. Kim
    18/04/2011 at 12:11 am Permalink

    oh take him down. I was bullied by kids all through school, I was very shy. easy target I guess. Probably one reason I homeschooled my kids until recently. well as i suspected my kids have had to face the giants. there is one kids in particular and his mom is the teacher at the school as well as he goes to my sons cubscouts. we are moving but when school is out I am going to have a letter written to his mom about her kids and how over sexualized they are and how they have felt the need to share graphic things with all the third graders!!!! how he has physically assaulted my child and etc. My son is handling it but I am not sure I am.

  7. Stacey
    19/04/2011 at 11:55 pm Permalink

    <3 from Little Boys are Made of Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails.

    You were NOT out of line at all. I'd like to kick that kid's ass for you!

  8. Christina
    20/04/2011 at 2:15 pm Permalink

    One of my biggest fears for my little one is the struggles he will have with bullies… I loved reading your blog… very real:) Thanks for stopping by my blog this week! I am now following you:)

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