When Lindsey came home from school feeling picked on and sad after her bike riding and name-calling day, I made the mistake of venting my own frustration about the incident on my Facebook wall. I didn't name the culprits and didn't blame the school, just said how sad I was that my daughter was so hurt.
Here's some of the feedback I heard (in fewer words than what was used):
- Kids are cruel, bullying happens. Tell her to suck it up.
- Soy Sauce is the tamest nickname I've heard, why does it even bother her?
- That's too bad but there are worse things in life.
- That's terrible and you need to get on that teacher.
- Shame on those other kids' parents.
- You should get those other kids in trouble.
The most telling comments were the ones in which people recounted their own experiences in being bullied. They could remember every word, every action like it was yesterday. For some of them the bullying had happened 40 years ago, but they still remembered the hurt that it caused. Those wounds stayed with them for a lifetime, to be recalled at a moment's notice.
Why would we think it's okay for that to continue on, generation after generation?
The parents of bullies, for the most part, would probably be appalled if they realized their children had reputations as bullies. I would be more upset if a teacher had to call me to tell me that Lindsey had been picking on other kids than on the other end of that equation.
As a parent, it is my job to raise children who will become independent, confident, caring adults (add any other positive adjectives you like to that statement.) It is also my job to be their advocate, to fight for their rights where they are not able to advocate for themselves.
I asked Lindsey's permission before I contacted her teacher because I want to balance those two responsibilities. I don't ever want to be accused of being a "helicopter parent" but don't want to leave my child defenseless. If Lindsey had not given me permission I would have said nothing to her teacher and let her continue to try to deal with the situation on her own. I was relieved when she told me it was okay if I speak to her teacher, and the behavior was handled.
This situation made me realize how very tough parenting can be. I'd better start saving for my kids' therapy now.