I am the kid who got bullied at school. All the time, yes, even in high school. I was brown (still am, but proud of it now) and my parents were immigrants. I was taught to suck it up and turn the other cheek. And of course tell the teacher. But there were some teachers who didn’t really care. And I was not the type of child to go home crying to my parents every time something happened, especially as I got older. I would ignore it as best as I could and then I had enough. I started to fight back. I did get into a couple of physical fights because I defended myself, the result of that was reinforcements were called in and I was beaten up by a group of racist little brats. It was not in school so not much could be done about it. The last incident I remember was in high school when this boy in math class continually called me “Paki” with an assortment of nouns added for color. He was also the child of immigrants but he was white. One day as he whispered profanities at me I turned to him and very loudly, whilst our (stern) teacher was explaining something, told him exactly what he was. The class was deadly silent. All eyes were on us, and then the teacher continued. He did not send me out of the room, did not ask me to explain. He let me have my say, he let the boy turn red in front of the entire class as he glared at him. He did not interrupt my victory. Sometimes you can’t turn the other cheek.
Things have changed a lot now. My daughters are not the only brown girls in the school. They do not get picked on for being brown. But of course kids still get bullied. And I too give my daughters the same advice my parents gave me, walk away and inform the teacher. Stay away from those conflicts. And I know the teachers do their best now to keep bullying at bay. But sometimes they can’t be there and some kids just can’t control themselves. I don’t blame the kids, I know some times there is a serious issue that is affecting them. I do know that sometimes bullies have to be put in their place.
There is a boy (or two) in twin 2’s class that can’t control his arms and legs. He has to hit, he has to kick he has to push. The teacher can’t keep him in her sights every second, and I know she tries because Twin 2 has told me he is always being pulled aside and getting the ‘talk’. But it doesn’t stop him and he would be at it again in no time.
Then I told my daughter if he hit her again or hit any of her friends and the teacher was not there (something always happens at recess) she needed to tell him to stop and if he didn’t listen she needed to defend herself. Yes I told my daughter if he hit her she was to hit him right back.
I am not a violent person and neither are my daughters, they are gentle and caring. It was not advice I liked to give but I want my daughters to be able to stand up for themselves and I don’t want them to go through their entire school life before they learn to do it like I did. Bullies need to learn they can’t keep hitting with no consequences.
Anyways some days later twin 2 came home with a note informing me that she had broken said bully’s water bottle. She told me that he had been hitting her in the hallway after recess and the teacher was nowhere close by so she had asked him to stop (he didn’t) and then she took matters in to her own hands, threw his bag thus breaking the precious water bottle. She was upset because she thought I would be upset at the note. I wasn’t, but I had mixed feelings. Would my baby now turn into a thug?
“Why did you break his bottle?”
“He wouldn’t stop, and I didn’t want to hit him. Are you mad?”
“No, of course not. Sometimes people don’t understand words, you had to make him stop somehow.”
I signed her note and gave her a hug. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, I hope I have not given her the wrong advice. So far she has not come home with any complaints of being bullied again and it is with great relief that I have not received any notes from school informing me that my daughter has taken it upon herself to bully the bullies.