Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Was a Fourth Grade Bully.

There is much attention in the media these days about an epidemic that is sweeping our youth, bullying. I feel for the young kids out in the world today who have to deal with bullies. Everyday I thank my lucky stars that I was a kid in the eighties, when things were a bit simpler.
We didn't have to deal with the bullies of cyberspace. We didn't have Facebook and no one sent the little Tweety bird on a gossip flight. I mean, there were bullies back then too. I should know because for a brief period in the year 1984, I dabbled in being a bully. I don't know what came over me but my friends and I picked on this one little girl pretty harshly. I am not proud of what I did.

Becky Burgess was an easy target. The girl had a love of picking her nose. To make matters worse, she would tuck her boogers in her bottom lip and you could see her dining on her saved treats throughout the school day. Poor thing, she just could not help herself. My friends and I named her "Becky Boogers" and made up songs about her that we would perform in the back of playground in a grove of trees. We charged our fellow students a nickel to watch the show. We had a lucrative show running for a while until someone told on us and we had to pack up our gig and call it a day. Although we were crafty and somewhat clever in our chosen way to pick on Becky, we were so wrong to do that to her. If I could give back every nickel that we earned, I would.

I've been on the other side of bullying too. Of course, there was the epic fight of 1988. Most memorably though, in seventh grade, there was a boy on my bus that had it in for me. Rick Pointer was a greasy stoner that might have had a crush on me. Either that or he hated me. Anyway, one day I had had enough of him calling me "Chicken head" and I called him "Lice head" in retaliation. The entire back end of the bus laughed at him and that really incensed him because I think that he really might have had a nasty case of lice. He was so mad that he would follow me home from the bus stop threatening me on a daily basis. When he and his skeevy friends egged my house, it was the last straw. My older brother decided to take matters in his own hands and went to Rick's house to settle the score.

Rick answered the door and my brother let him have it real good. "You better leave my sister alone, or else!" he told my lice infested bully. Rick then threatened him back and went to get his older brother, who just so happened to be friends my brother. They both taught him a good lesson about not picking on girls and let's just say that Rick had a fat lip when he got on the bus the next day. He never bothered me again.

Unfortunately, bullying has been around for a long time and is a potential hazard of being young. Having been on both ends of the spectrum, I can say that it's really horrible to be on either side. In my heart, when I performed my solo about Becky and her boogers, I felt bad. I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I'm sorry Becky, wherever you are. I hope that you dealt with the repercussions of our mean spirited booger variety show on a therapist's couch and that you have let it go. We were just being young and stupid.

I think that the best that we can do as parents is to raise our children to respect others and pray that they can do a better job than some of us did on the playground. I believe that open communication is the key. I want both of my boys to know that they can come to me if someone is giving them a hard time. We also need to teach our children a good helping of self respect so that if they end up a victim of bullying, they will have the strength to defend themselves. That and knowing how to slam a Roundhouse kick to the gut can get you far in life.


singedwingangel said...

I think what sickens me the most about all of this today is the bully is in essence a dang coward. They don't come face to face like they did when we were kids. They hide under fake accounts on the internet and fake email accounts. Then anyone who doens't have the balls to be a face to face bully gets credit for the crap.
If you are gonna be a bully, then have the balls to go toe to toe and get your a** whooped at some point by someone who is tired of being bullied.

Just Jen said...

The way we bullied kids then and the way it is happening now is completley different. We didn't go online and post rumors for the whole world to see. We didn't threaten to kill other kids or post naked pictures of them.

If I could take back all of the heart ache that I caused kids growing up, I would, and I hope that they would take back the pain they caused me.

Anonymous said...

Leigh, this is such a great post. You nailed it on the head. I was bullied in jr. high and it's always been hard for me to talk about. Even though I was the victim of it I have always felt ashamed. Thank you for posting this.

Sue said...

The effects of bullying last forever. Having said that, we've all been on one side or the other at one time or another.

The thing that worries me is that today's bullying is so uniquely vicious, and the means of spreading it so much more effective and widespread.

Makes me worry for my grandchildren.


risa bug said...

hmmm, i was bullied a lot, and all the way through high school. leigh, you remember those scary goth girls with black lipstick and eyeliner that always wanted to kick my ass for some unknown reason? i actually snuck out of clubs to avoid this threatened ass-kicking. what i really wish was that i had stood up to those jerks and possibly taken a beating (but hopefully have given one). i am a small person, so i always felt like anyone could hurt me physically if they wanted to and that's what i was so scared of. i just wish my folks had put me in martial arts of some sort when i was trying a new hobby every year. maybe then i wouldn't have been so afraid.

i'd like to also point out that my WORST fear of being assaulted actually came in college when i was 22 years old and thought all that crap was way behind me. it was actually a very transformative event because i realized i may be little but i'm not made of glass. still, it took awhile to stop feeling victimized over that one.

lastly, i was actually bullied incessantly at work, by a woman with 2 young children! she bullied me by telling me and anyone else who would listen that i was incompetent and should be fired. i cried everyday either at work or for hours afterward. i was 28 years old. i finally left that job and several years later had an epiphany.

no one can make you feel bad. you have to LET them. it's important to learn how to be in control of your own emotions (something i didn't learn fully until i was about 32). i'm hoping to teach my daughter about self-respect, choosing good friends, not taking crap and defending herself if the need arises. besides that, if someone screws with her, i will f*@k them up.

Homesteadgirl said...

There was a commercial on television a few years ago that showed a man in an office being shoved, elbowed, verbally abused, etc. by his coworkers. When bullying was put in this context, it really makes you question the things we tell kids. I'm a teacher. And telling kids to find an adult to help doesn't can make things worse. Walking away, telling the bully how you feel...these feel like "solutions", but really just make the adult feel like they're doing something. I worry for my children, esp. with so much in the news about suicides related to bullying. Love and support your children's feelings, teach them to trust their feelings and to feel safe sharing them. If your child is bullied, get them out of the situation in any way you can: change schools, homeschool...just get them out. No adult would stay in a job where they're repeatedly bullied. LOVE the last line of this...always feel somewhat ashamed of the desire for bullies to get their asses kicked by someone bigger and stronger than them. But of course...oh, I'm just on a rant now. Will sign off and write more later, perhaps!