Nothing gets my hackles up like bullying. This probably has a lot to do with my own childhood and the fact that I was a bit odd. Heck, I'm not exactly normal now.
My friend, Leilani, and I used to sing at the top of our lungs on the school bus which made people quite angry, but we were too oblivious to notice. At least, I was oblivious until the day a girl named Terry, who shared my bus journey each day, walked all the way to my neighborhood with the sole purpose of beating me to a pulp. I escaped that butt-kicking by talking my way out of it, but I left with a new awareness of my standing in the social hierarchy of the schoolyard.
There was also a group of four girls who picked on me relentlessly. They all looked almost exactly alike. They don't mean anything to me now, but when I think of bullying, I always think of them.
Over the years, I haven't had the time to worry about mean people in my life. If anyone wants to mess with me, I'm game for some sarcastic banter.
Now, my children are whole different subject. If you want to get me truly enraged, pick on my kids.
When my son was just a toddler, we went to McDonald's to enjoy the play area. It was Olympia, Wash., during lunch time so the weather was most likely rainy and miserable.
He was so cute climbing innocently into a tube when some 5 year old kid walked up and kicked him in his butt. I didn't even think; just reacted. The next thing I knew, I was beside this strange child saying, "Hey, Kid! Next time you kick my son, I'm going to punch your mom!"
The boy just stared at me for a moment with his mouth hanging open before he ran to his mother. I'm not sure what he told her, but she never said a word to me. Who would? I probably looked crazy. It was the first time that psychotic maternal instinct took over.
It almost happened again the other night. My daughter told me that she isn't like the other kids because she's different. I told her all kids are different. She said, "But I'm more different than the others." This hurt my heart a little because I know that's how I felt when I was her age.
She said people called her names; more specifically another kid called her "pom pom cheeks."
"Pom pom cheeks?" I asked. I love this girl's cheeks. They are the most adorable cheeks in the world, but this label obviously hurt her feelings. I was furious that someone got to her.
"You know what? This little jerk called you a name because they can't stand how beautiful you are and they are jealous so they have to try to tear you down. You are beautiful and unique and talented and they hate that so they have to call you names to make you feel bad about yourself because they feel bad about themselves."
She was distracted for a moment. "Look at me!" I said. "You are special and wonderful. People are going to do this again and again because they can't stand how awesome you are, but I know it and I love you."
She hugged me super tight and said, "Thank you, mommy." That was it. I didn't even have to threaten someone's mother. I really think I'm getting better at this parenting business.