When Lorelei was very little, she’d get mad at her big brothers and yell, “Shub up! Beeg bully!” With four older siblings, it’s not surprising she’d heard the phrase “shut up,” but I’m not sure how she already knew what a bully was: someone bigger, stronger, more powerful, higher in the pecking order, who uses their position to pick on someone else.
Of course, older siblings tease younger ones. Lorelei was never subjected to the systematic bullying that devastates so many childhoods. My own experience with bullying took place on the school bus.
I was an extremely precocious child, and in my earliest memories of riding the bus, when I was a first grader, the big kids (8th graders who appear as adults in my memory) made a big fuss over me, calling me to the back of the bus and having me read passages from their science books aloud.
But what was cute one year was bullying fodder a few years later. I think I was in the third grade when some of the middle school girls on the bus began picking on me. I remember some nasty name calling, and once being smacked. I remember some of the girls who were involved (kids from good families whose parents would probably have been shocked by their behavior), and not much else, except dreading the bus ride home. I told my mother everything, and I’m sure she talked to the principal, and I think I ended up not riding the bus for awhile. I know that I was lucky: people listened, and eventually the bullying stopped.
I never bullied anyone myself (except my little sister, as she loves to remind me), but I often regret that I didn’t try harder to befriend the kids in almost every class who were bullied. I do remember trying to talk to some of them, and in my memory they often repelled friendly overtures. Perhaps they distrusted me, or maybe that was part of their self-defense mechanism, or maybe it was their own difficulties with social interaction that made them bully magnets. I don’t know.
As parents, we are proud of our children for taking a stance against the bullying of some of their classmates. Our kids aren’t perfect, but they are kind. I wrote here about how William dealt with a boy who was bullying (or perhaps constantly annoying) him.
While my sister and I both laugh at her stories of how I picked on her, but I also feel bad. And I think sometimes about the girls who bullied me. Because I went to a small Catholic school, and still live in the town where I grew up, I don’t have to wonder what happened to them–they are still around. And they grew up to be nice people. Do they even remember the incidents on the bus? Was it was the big deal to them that it was to me, or was it just an amusement and quickly forgotten? Do they ever think about it when they teach their own kids how to treat others?
Being bullied led me to be kinder to others and to teach my kids to do the same. I hope that the reformed bullies from my past DO remember and model kindness for their kids.
For more entries in #1000Speak: Building from Bullying, click here.
I often hear similar stories about school bus bullying. Your “But what was cute one year was bullying fodder a few years later…” is so powerful and sad. I am sorry you had to go through that.
Thanks, Kelly. My little boy road a bus home just one time to spend the night with a friend. From what he told me I would NEVER put a kid on a bus these days.
I was bullied quite a bit by other kids in elementary school because I was chubby and I had to wear a patch over one eye due to Mixed Dominance. It really scarred me and made me feel insecure about myself throughout the rest of my school years. The funny thing is, those same kids who bullied me are now good friends of mine on Facebook. I doubt they even remember doing it and I’ve never bothered to remind them. I forgave them long ago.
Same here as to the FB friends. People who used to be so mean turned out to be so nice that it really makes me wonder how things work sometimes.
I was bullied in kindergarten and I still remember it vividly. Then one day I stood up to her and it ended, just like that. But, I still remember how I dreaded recess and being alone with her.
That’s so sad for someone so small. I hate that loss of innocence that comes with sending kids to school.
this is a terrific post. I think the school bus is often a place where a lot of bullying goes on. I used to see it quite a bit even when I was in school a million years ago. I’m glad that you were able to get the help that you so desperately needed.
Thank you. Yes, buses are problematic for lots of reasons. I am glad we are close enough to school that driving is not an issue.
My parents raised me to be nice to the “nerdy” or less popular kids. I will never forget inviting this girl to my birthday party in the 4th grade. She was the “nerd” of the class… awkward looking and acting, everyone was mean to her, behind her back if not to her face. I thought I was trying to help her by inviting her to my party. Until it was the end of the night and parents were picking their kids up. And we couldn’t find her shoes anywhere in the house. She had to go home shoe-less. Later on when I went into my dresser to get something, I realized that another girl had HIDDEN HER SHOES IN MY DRESSER. I knew exactly which girl had done it, too. Kids can be so nasty! It’s so sad!
I don’t understand it. There were several kids like that in my school. They seemed to be a magnet for bullying. And granted, they were strange children. Today they probably would have been diagnosed with something and gotten help to fit in better socially! But there is no excuse for cruelty.
Agreed, there was something off about this girl for sure but even in the 4th grade my heart really went out to her. She disappeared after the 6th grade, I think middle school was probably even more cruel to her and I am guessing her parents put her in a private school somewhere. Probably a good call! I hope I am able to raise my kids (step and biological!) to have the same compassion that my parents raised me with, I am grateful that they did that.
I often wonder what happened to some of those kids. 🙁
I’m really glad you’ve been able to use your experiences as opportunities to raise your own children right. I can’t understand your advances of friendship being repelled by the other picked-on kids.
I don’t understand that either. Maybe it was their way of protecting themselves. Maybe I needed to try harder.
I don’t think you needed to try harder. There’s only so many times you can throw yourself and go ‘splat’ before you realise it’s an exercise in futility. Once is sensible.
Perhaps they just didn’t trust anyone by that point.
That’s what I’m thinking.
So sad. All round sad. 🙁
Thanks for sharing your experiences with bullying. My daughter was bullied on the bus also. She was really proud of a new pair of yellow tennis shoes. She was called a Duck and teased terribly and never wore those shoes again. I am glad bullying is getting the attention it deserves.
What a sad story! That makes me remember something similar–when I was teased for bright yellow tennis shoes with green stripes–they called me “Mello Yello” but those were my favorite colors. Little things like that can really hurt, probably more than the bullies even know.
Love this!! This is close to my heart, my son is currently getting bullied on the bus as well.. but he has been open with us about it and we are trying to get things resolved as quickly as possible (although it taking longer than I would like)
I am so sorry to hear that! I don’t know what it is about kids on buses. It’s like a zoo without a good keeper. I hope you get the situation resolved soon.
Anytime past experience can breed something more positive is a win, if you ask me. It’s unfortunate that there has to be pain or sadness involved to start, but making a positive grow from that is beautiful. Your statement that what was cute one year was bullying fodder a few years later is so true – we have to teach children young that certain things are not OK because really it’s not cute at all when someone gets hurt in any way.
Glad you’re part of 1000Speak!
Thanks, Lisa! You are so right that so often good can come from bad, if we let it. Thank you for stopping by!
This is why I hated middle school. I too hope that they have learned from their past and teach their children better.
We can always hope! Thanks for commenting.
I remember sitting with the older kids on the bus. They thought I was so funny. Until one day I had a Kool-Aid mustache and they laughed at me…and I cried.
So sad! And it has stuck with you all these years. 🙁 I do think some kids don’t intend to be cruel.
We have dealt with bullying issues at my house as well. I have one daughter who cried almost every day for a year. I’m trying to help her understand what things she can change, and what things she needs to ignore and rise above.
Poor little girl. I hope this year has been better for her!
Reblogged this on On The Verge.
I am glad that the bullies grew up to be nice. I don’t know if my bullies grew up to be nice and frankly don’t care, but I hope they didn’t grow up to bully their families or teach their kids that behavior.