Sometimes Bullies Need to be Bullied

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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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth, The Ugly Truth About Writing

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This is literally me right now. Looking into the depths of my heart, which I have pulled out of my chest. To face the truth.

I am sitting here stalling. My draft lies in a file, wasting storage space on my laptop. I have left it alone for many months because that is what writers are advised to do. Write, leave it. Edit, leave it. Read and edit, then leave it again. But I have left it way too long.

I have tricked myself into believing that I am just waiting for an appropriate amount of time to pass then I will get back to it. I distract myself with other projects, then leave them also. In the back of my mind something keeps eating away at me, I push it away. I write humorous mom posts to keep myself busy. And distract myself…from myself. From the anger that is building up inside me. The frustration of the truth that I don’t want to acknowledge.

I am scared to go back to the novel. Scared it is awful. Scared it won’t ever be any good even after I have put so much into it that I am exhausted. Scared of that horrible feeling when you get another rejection letter. If it never gets done, I won’t have to face all that hurt.

And anger builds up even more. I push it down deep, so that my kids don’t notice. I don’t want them to know I desperately want to write, but I am too scared of the disappointment I will have to face.  I want them to be able to face their problems bravely when they go out on their own in the world.Get back up and dust themselves off after falling. . I want them to be able to keep their spirits up even when things look hopeless and I am not setting a good example. Which means I am failing as a mother now too. More frustration.

I open the draft and stare at it. I get up and go into the kitchen. I have to make dinner first. I always have to do something first. I am so angry I end up putting too many red peppers in the stir fried shrimp. The kids are going to complain and I will try to deal with them patiently, because it is my fault. I will suppress the urge to smack them in the back of the head and yell at them to stop whining about everything. It isn’t their fault. It is mine.

I contemplate blaming everything on my parents and a bad childhood. Blaming someone else makes you feel better temporarily. It gives you excuses to continue being stupid. In the back of my mind I know it is all me though.

I control my anger. Squeeze it into a ball and force it down my throat. It is struggling to come back up in the form of a loud, frustrated scream. I don’t want to worry my husband and kids. But I really want to punch something hard. And break stuff.

I avoid the on-line writing hang out. I don’t want to admit how I am feeling to all those other writers who will understand and try to make me feel better. I don’t want to admit I am scared to keep writing. Putting all my energy, all my hear t and soul into that stupid book, only to find out it was never any good.

And I don’t want any feel good advice. I don’t want to feel good, I am too busy being angry, and all that good advice sounds like BS anyways. We just give it and listen to it to make ourselves feel better.  I am tired of good advice, don’t give me good advice, just agree that everything sucks and then we can go throw rocks at windows or something.

Broken windows remind me of broken down houses. And homeless people, and that I should stop wallowing in this ridiculous hole I have dug for myself because I am so much better off. I should be grateful, happy and stop wasting my time. And go finish the damn book.

Which I can’t do, because I have pulled my heart out of my chest and looked into its depths. All I can find is anger and isolation and the fear of failure. I contain it, but it is building up and I am afraid it is going to explode.

 

(Artwork is mine.)

Dear white lady, please excuse my curry aura.

Rural Indian Woman cooking food in the Kitchen

Desi cooking. It is the epitome of a love hate relationship. Love to eat it. Hate to smell it. The smell of spicy curry on rice is slightly different when it lingers on your clothes. Your walls. Your couch. Damn it even the cat.

It takes a small fortune on fabric fresheners, candles, and what not to keep our houses free from the infuriating curry smell. Curry which we cook many times throughout the week.  Dry wall loves curry. The entire house just soaks all that spicy smell up and that contraption known as the kitchen exhaust is a useless noisemaker.

There needs to be some kind of innovation in house making seriously, special materials for people who do a lot of eastern cooking. Yes I have to include the entire east because our lives depend on garlic, onions, and spices. And bak choy. Have you ever smelt the after effects of cooking bak choy?  Ugh!

We eastern cooking people are the reason the scent industry will continue to flourish, prosper and cause the remaining ozone layer to vanish completely.  We have cans of air freshener in every corner of the house, which we use fervently especially in winter when windows can’t be opened. Winter is the worst when it comes to curry…aromas.

The day of the winter concert my daughters were super excited to be performing (for the one millionth time). We were invited in the evening to watch them. My husband had forgotten about it and suddenly came down with every ailment in the book when reminded of the evening’s agenda.

I let him off the hook and offered to just go by myself. Even I had been trying to talk the girls out of it. (Don’t judge me, I usually get excited about watching them perform every year even after hearing the songs every day for two months from all three of them.)But it had been a very tiring week.

I was running late, I wanted to get dinner cooked before I left so the kids could come home, eat and we could just wind the evening up. By 7pm I am so sleepy I can fall asleep while eating dinner. Curry facials are not good for your skin.

Spaghetti and meatballs for the kids. Desi guy doesn’t like pasta. At all. So I had decided to cook bihari kababs that day for him. Biggest mistake ever. In my haste to get to school I just grabbed my coat after I turned off the stove and ran outside. Ignoring the yells of the spray cans containing various scented toxic liquids that decorated our house.

I herded the girls in the direction of their classes and then went to the gym to await the performance. There were no seats left so I had to stand at the entrance. Where it was nice and airy. Till my friend spotted me and dragged me back with her because she had an extra seat (she pulled her youngest out of said seat and sat him on her lap for the whole evening-I love my friends). It was crowded. Packed. You could smell snow and salt. And bihari kabab.

I felt like kicking myself. I whispered my horror to my friend who smiled and said, “yeah I wondered what you had been cooking. Great korma smell!”

“Bihari kabab,” I said.

“Well I don’t mind,” she giggled.

But the white lady sitting next to me did. A lot. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her stiffen. I saw her slowly rise and leave. To sit on some chair she was lucky enough to find in that packed gym away from me. Dear white lady from the winter concert at the school gym, I am extremely sorry, please excuse my curry aura.

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Arranged Marriage:Dear (Not So) Suitable Boy

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Contrary to the Indian movies that often portray every young girl’s goal in life as securing that Suitable Boy’s proposal, most girls just wanted to have fun.

Dear (Not so ) Suitable Boy,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time now (about 20 years) but somewhere along the way, after I realized you most certainly were not my knight in shining armor, I married someone else and had five kids. So yeah I was a bit preoccupied. No, I didn’t end up marrying the knight in shining armor. He still hasn’t shown up. Curse you, Disney. Curse you.

I remembered you and your audacious proposal yesterday night as I was scooping fat cat’s dehydrated poop out of the litter box. Please don’t be offended, you do not in any way remind me of dehydrated cat poop. I just get random thoughts scooping poop.

I just want you to know that it never would have worked. I was done the second I realized I was about to be shown off like prize cattle, when I saw you sitting there in my aunt’s drawing-room with your mom, your dad and your female sibling. I am surprised you didn’t bring your grandparents. I stopped at the door and I checked you out. Sorry I wasn’t raised in Pakistan, yeah I checked you out and you did not even make my “last guy in the world list”. But let’s be honest, you were there with your family to do the exact same thing. I just beat you to it.

Yes, in those few seconds I was able to sum you up and sweep you aside. I was a narcissistic nineteen year old what could you expect? I knew I was on every eligible bachelor’s mom’s list, most likely first or second, because I fit what every desi mother-in-law wanted. Tall, thin, fair, but most importantly, Canadian National. God bless our hypocritical, stereotypical desi double standards!

Besides being turned off by the fact that I was about to be paraded in front of a guy I did not know (why can’t people just arrange a normal lunch with lots of people?) it was the moustache. That ridiculously thick moustache that made Tom Selleck look like a fuzzy lipped female. Had you never heard of Johnny Depp? Apparently not. You looked like a forty-five year old, (yes I am aware that you were not actually forty-five, but damn that was some ‘stache!) a forty-five year old who was accompanied by his parents and little sister to check out a nineteen year old chick. That is not a good first impression.

I did my utmost to be as obnoxious as possible to your mom and little sis. I refused to go into the drawing-room to meet you, I didn’t see the point since I had already decided we were most certainly NOT meant to be. So they came to meet me in the other room. I disagreed with everything your sister said, I mocked the fact that she didn’t enjoy Jane Austen which she was required to read for school. I love Jane Austen. The second a tray of drinks was brought in I hopped up and rudely grabbed a drink for myself to the shock of both my aunts.  And your mom. I wanted her to realize what Canadian National meant. It meant I was not the standard docile girl who had been embedded with the concept that I had to marry whichever Suitable Boy thought I met his mom’s standards. I would not be cajoled into an arranged marriage just because everyone thought you were a Suitable Boy.

Fourteen hundred years ago my religion gave me the right to decide if I liked a guy enough to marry him, but along the line somewhere all that got lost in stupid cultural backwardness. Up till the point where girls were displayed to be evaluated by a boy and his family. To see whether or not she was good-looking enough, submissive enough, to make a good daughter-in-law and wife. Then the poor girl waited, hoping not to be rejected as Prince Charming went on to check out the next eight girls on Mama’s list.

The point of all this is, you probably have kids now. Unless you jumped off a cliff in a fit of drama, your ego bruised by a girl who had the impudence to refuse.  If you have a daughter please don’t parade her in front of dozens of young men and their families. Let her peek in the drawing-room first. And if she doesn’t want to go in and meet them, don’t make her.

Sincerely,

The Canadian National you are so lucky not to have gotten hitched to.

P.S. Do remind her however, that the knight in shining armor rarely shows up, she should not waste her precious time waiting for him.

Resident Evil: Messy Kids

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Friday is the last day of the week the house stays clean. As the kids come home from school, my neat and clean abode slowly turns into Boxing Day aftermath.  Yes my kids have issues. They are suffering from “our mom is too good to us syndrome”. Yeah I need to work on that.

By Saturday there are dirty dishes in the sink. On the dining table. And on the coffee table, under beds, near the computer table and yes even in the bathroom. Unwashed clothes decorate floors in bedrooms and outside the clothes hamper, the litter box needs to be emptied and toys need to be put away. The walls are screaming their discontent at being adorned with what seems to be yesterday night’s spaghetti dinner. And this is the start of my weekend. Sound familiar? Well at least I’m not alone.

I am the mom, I do not get tired, I am never sleepy, I do not need to relax. My only aspirations in life are to cook for, feed, clean, wash, and pamper anything I have given birth to or married. I realize that: “you look tired today”  is not my friend sympathizing with me. That is her  saying “Woman you need a face lift, hair dye and a week at the spa.” The only thing I can afford from these options is the hair dye, which I am not gonna do anyways. Honestly I rather be grey than have to scrub that dye from the tub every time I wash my hair. Being perfectly coiffed is so over rated. I am just going to embrace my inner Carol. I mean just look at her!

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I have some suggestions on how we should deal with these problems:

1. Pack up all their stuff in black garbage bags and inform them it is being donated to the Salvation Army.
2. Take it out to the front yard and put up a garage sale sign.
3. Collect it all in the backyard, surround it with a circle of rocks, light it up and roast marshmallows over it.
4. Bury it in the compost heap.
5. Take pictures of it, especially close-ups of underwear and then post it to their Facebook walls.
6. Invite their friends over for a get together and not let them know about it.
7. Pack our own bags, get in the car and drive to South America. Take all their electronic goods to pawn off along the way.
I am thinking either # 3 or #7. Let me know which worked out best for you!