Beating the Bully {Part 1}

 

Call it intimidation, strong-arming, harassment or whatever you like. Dress it in pink and tie a bow around it. Candy coat it and cover with a slight dust of powdered sugar. Heck, even give a few well earned ‘stripes’ and an official title if you must. A bully is a bully! And I suggest you call a spade a spade.


Bullying is not some new phenomena. It’s been around for ages. Long before a certain potty mouthed teen, who claims to have a 36 year old grandma came along. Even longer than that misguided girl who inspired the song “Cash me outside, How bout dat” was even born. 

Everyone and their grandma has been affected by it. You or someone close to you may have been a victim to a bully in some form or the other. For reasons I don’t want to understand, there are some humans who can’t help themselves and they thrive on intimidating those whom they deem to be weaker than themselves.

Back when my son, #1stK, was in the second grade he was bullied at school. So much so that he wouldn’t want to go to school. His nerves were shot and his finger nails were non existent. A boy two years his senior made his life hell. It didn’t go on too long because I noticed that something was amiss. I’d like to take credit for being supermom of the decade for calling a stop to it but unfortunately I cannot bask in that glory. Neither can the school authority. 

It only stopped when a fierce little girl (5/6 at the time) beat up the bully for picking on her brother. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My daughter, #MiddleK, decided that it was time to push back. She snuck out of her playground and into the older kids playground and made a beeline for the bully. She beat him and when she had him on the ground she wouldn’t stop. Continuously saying (or rather shouting) “You see that boy there? He’s my brother and you don’t EVER fight with him again!” He was four years her senior. That day she beat the bully. #MiddleK rescued her big brother.

A few years later #1stK was back to being a carefree but stronger young lad. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And along comes a girl and who cried wolf. Long story short, she threw him with a stone on his head. It bled. She saw him crying and made a run for it and fell. Afraid that she’d get into trouble for throwing him with a stone, she runs home to tell her mom that he pushed her. Mom comes to school the next day to bully my son with his class teacher in tow and my boy is traumatized. 

I guess I don’t need to tell you how mad I was. Or do I? (Keeping the long story short still… so I won’t go into all of it) I demanded to see both the parent and teacher. Got the whole truth from the little girl in their presence and they went from hero to zero in the minute it took the little liar to confess. Now you probably think that I had a field time with those two bullies once I asked the kids to leave. I did. In a way. Being a mom restricts my behaviour in many ways. It’s called practicing self discipline. What happens when you really want to scream shout and physically harm someone but you speak calmly instead and make it clear that you are not to be crossed. Because that angel mom on your shoulder reminds you that you have to lead by example and you really need to practice what you preach. Violence is not the answer. Difficult but definitely doable. (Even if you have to pop a muscle relaxer afterward)

Last week, #MiddleK had an altercation with two of the prefects at her school. Not quite the seniors at school yet and wanting to stamp down their authority, my daughter seemed like the perfect target. I won’t relay the whole turn of events but I will tell you why I almost lost it and had to pop a few muscle relaxers again.

One of the said bullies didn’t enjoy the fact that she got no reaction from #MiddleK so she ended off by saying “You’d better watch your back!” Now imagine how peeved I was at that little threat. My minds eye was replaying all the disgusting bullying video clips I’ve been seeing on social media lately. 

So we’re walking in the mall and I’m fuming. Then #MiddleK sees the issuer-of-threats and tells me that she’s walking in our direction. I breathe. My mind is all over the place because this would be a great opportunity to speak to the mom and discuss this. (Still breathing) But no. I’m way too angry to think rationally and I’m not in a very understanding space so I’ll probably bulldoze the mom and daughter. Breathe. Some. More. Angel  mom tells me that it’s a bad idea too. She just won’t hush! I can do this. Also, #MiddleK is gripping my arm and digging her fingers on my skin. Ouch!

Bully spots #MiddleK and gives her the evil eye. She doesn’t notice me. Not the way I watch her every move. If looks could kill my daughter would be pushing up daisies by now. I feel my daughter shrink under the scrutiny. By this time breathing is doing nothing at all. Angel mom is squashed but the grip on my arm becomes tighter. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch! Back to reality. I am way too livid to talk to this mom because I might risk making a total balls up and I want my kids to learn, and more importantly, know how to resolve issues in amicably. I want them to be well balanced humans one day. So I keep quiet. Resume walking and finish my grocery shopping. Sleep it off. Write to ease the tension. Have muscle relaxers. The school authority will have to deal with this. It was the school who decided to entrust this girl with authority. She’s still a kid too and needs to learn not to abuse her authority. Bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

This momma bear doesn’t take kindly to bullies

Last term we discovered that my niece had bunked virtually the whole term because of her educator as well as a group of girls at her school has been intimidating her.

All this happened because the educator felt that she asked too many questions about the subject and was wasting his time. His threat: “Just go to the office and you’ll see.” It cost her a whole term but with our help she opened up and made her voice heard. Well we’re all seeing right about now. The educator especially.

A bully’s biggest fear is for someone to find out about them. Their threats are only as strong as the victims voice, or lack thereof.

A few days ago my neighbour passed away. A formidable man who was one of the SAPS members I had lots of respect for. One of the few who makes me believe that we’re not entirely doomed by crooked cops.
His passing also took me back to a time when I’d lost a loved one and also the politics involved when a loved one passes on. The subtle way in which people try to bully you to get their own way. Because when death comes around, everyone makes it about themselves. Everyone is so engrossed in their grief and families often lose the plot, thus making it all about them. In doing so they may or may not realise that they’re actually bullying those nearest and dearest to the departed.
Throughout my career I’ve worked at many companies in my lifetime and have been targeted by bullies in the workplace more than I care to remember. Those individuals have learnt not to judge a book by its cover. I look like I can be easily intimidated. Both a blessing and a curse. You see, I like when people underestimate me.

Initially when I started my mini rant about bullying I was going to publish a singular post about how to deal with being bullied yourself and how to teach your kids to deal with them. Also, the importance of having an open communication channel with your kids so that they will have the courage to talk to you about being bullied. Instead, I have decided to split this into a mini series, because I’ve received some valuable input from friends and have been asked to cover specific points.

In the next few posts I will be going into more detail about the different types of bullies and how to assert yourself and overcoming it. And don’t worry Angel  mom is not invited to all the posts. She’s kid friendly but not necessarily allowed in the office.


*In all above events no physical harm (except for #1stK in his formative years) has come to anyone but it has one common denominator. Bullies*


With love,

CJ

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