Thursday, October 21, 2010

It Gets Better.

I know that technically yesterday was Spirit Day, but we were out and about rocking our purple all over town, so this post is coming at ya a day late. Either way, the message still matters.

When I was very young (6), I was moved up a grade while at a small school, and much like a small town, everybody knew your business. I went from Kindergarten to second grade, and while it sounds like a small enough leap, it was big enough to label me an outcast. From that point forward, all the kids knew that I "didn't belong", and I was labeled throughout elementary, middle, and, unfortunately, high school, as "too smart", or "too small", or "too flat-chested" - you get the drift. Being a year younger doesn't sound like much, particularly now, but when you're in the throes of puberty, it's a big difference, and as we all know, even the smallest difference in school can make you a target for name-calling, bullying, and loner status.

Though twenty years have passed, the ridicule I experienced during my school years has stayed with me, and most likely will remain forever. I second-guess myself in certain situations, I feel nervous and unlikable in groups with new people, and only as a college student did I really come into my own and figure out who I was and where I belonged. Man, I loved college.

To this day, I am proud of myself for joining not one but TWO mom's groups. I have showed up places where I knew no one, Ava in tow, to make friends for both of us and hope that I'll be accepted for who I am. Again I feel I'm at a disadvantage, now due to my marital status as opposed to my age, though sometimes I am the youngest and I instantly feel panicked.

I fight back anxiety at times that can only be attributed to what I went through as a child. And once children decided that I should be the target of their hatred, they found lots of things about me they didn't like. I didn't have much money growing up, so my clothes were also off-brand and behind the trends. My hair was naturally curly, and went every which way, particularly in our humid climate. My parents didn't bother to put me in braces, which I needed. Children teased me and humiliated me and said hurtful, hateful things to me. And now, I am an adult who is always put together in clothing that is expensive, or brand-name, or trendy, and who has perfectly straight (I corrected this myself, to the tune of $6,000 at 19 - it was THAT important to me) teeth and straight, smooth hair that I fight with my Chi on a regular basis. It may look like the wounds have healed, but clearly, they have not.

In light of all the recent teen suicides due to bullying, whether it's due to sexual orientation, financial circumstances, racial or ethnic identity, physical or mental handicap, or whatever little thing people can pick away at you for, I implore you to put an end to bullying and inequality in our world. As a mother, I am afraid of many things, but little is as sickening to me as the thought that children will damage Ava the way that they damaged me. While I can do my best to prepare her, to make her strong and resilient, and to do as much as humanly possible to ensure she's not an obvious target, it is up to ALL of us to teach our children to be loving, tolerant, accepting human beings. Won't you join me?


  1. Damn right I will. I'm behind you and all the victims of such abuse 100%! Bullying and prejudice in any form (mental, physical, emotional, etc) is unacceptable. We need to make a difference and now is definitely the time to do it!

  2. I'm with you 100%! I've been thinking about this a lot too in relation to Jack. I worry about him and the type of person he will be. I want him to be respectful and kind to others, but I also don't want him getting bullied. In 5th grade I went to a new school and I was teased and made fun of the entire year. It was hard. Luckily I went to a different school in 6th grade where I made friends I still keep in touch with. But you never forget the way you felt and the negative things that were said and done to you. You're right though- all parents need to get involved. You can't ignore the signs of bullying, whether your child is the bully or the one getting bullied.

    I wish I had known about wearing purple. I found out after I was already at work. Do you know if this was a one time thing?

  3. I'm with you too!

    My parents were brought into a meeting with the principal's office when I was in second grade (I thought this was super scary and spent forever trying to figure out what I had done wrong!) to discuss moving me straight into fourth grade instead of third at the end of the year. My parents politely declined so that I wouldn't face the same situations you did. I'm so glad they did that! While I often hung out with people older than me, I think it would have been a different story all together if I had been moved into their grade. I was a late bloomer anyway, that would have only added to the problem.

  4. oh this was so well said. kids are so awful, & it literally makes my heart hurt to think of some kid picking on my little baby boy. the day will come & it'll be rough & i won't have control over it. the thing i do have control over is teaching my baby to not be the bully.

  5. You are so right. Hearing about all about those poor kids who thought suicide was the only way out of being bullied breaks my heart. I, too, was teased a lot as a child (bad haircut, short height, etc) and it left wounds that I still struggle over. It took me a long time to believe that Drew actually thought I was pretty and wanted to date me - I honestly believed he was stringing me along for some big prank. That sounds crazy, but a hurt self-esteem as a child lingers for a long time.

    I'm glad that our generation of parents realize just how harmful bullying can be and are gearing up to stand up for our children. Here's to raising self-confident, non-bullying kiddos!


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