Monday, April 2, 2012

B Is For Bully

Bullying is a hot topic. It perks my interest when I hear or see it written. Bullying has been a part of my life.```
I bullied a girl in grade school.
I was bullied as a child.
My child was bullied.

The girl I bullied: My entire fourth grade class identified 'Judy' as a girl who looked different from the rest of us. She was overweight and her hair was very curly. I am too ashamed to spell out the cruelty we bestowed on her. She had a tough time overside the bounds of her nurturing home. Judy had two loving, adoring parents. One day my Mom and I went over to Judy's house for a visit. Judy showed me her bedroom. To my astonishment, the walls were entirely covered with hand-painted murals done by her father who had been a Disney artist. Snow White, Cinderella and other Disney characters graced her walls. They were magnificent. In Judy's home and extraordinary bedroom, she was safe from the daily torture she received in the classroom and playground.

I was bullied at the same time by my Catholic neighbors. We were the only Jews on a block where St. Margaret Mary's Church and School graced end of the street. I was left out a lot by my crafty older Catholic neighborhood pals. This would climax with a massive game of hide-and-seek at dusk where the entire gang would hide in a far remote impossible location. I would walk home and enjoy the private oasis of my bedroom. So Judy and I had more than a little commonality.

My child was bullied by boys who understood that my son was not a jock and was easy pickings. In fifth grade I met with the Principal to discuss this. She told me: have him stand up straighter and walk with more confidence. She advised we not call him by his nickname, but by his given name. Of course this advice was all crap. He was who he was and she did not address the issue of bullying.

And now bullying is a daily topic. All forms of media discuss it on a variety of levels and major public figures address it and the topic is now in the forefront. Bullying is bad behavior and discussing it will make a positive change.

And then there is the 2012 Presidential Campaign. It has always annoyed me that candidates put each other down instead of selling us on their own virtues. And the media hatred spewed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh. And the gossip columns. Is this not a form of bullying accepted by society?

Bullying may be a primitive form of behavior. And yet we live in a civilized society. We are not animals. Discussing bullying and looking back into our own childhoods will make us kinder, gentler. I think of Judy now and know that in all our own little private bedroom oasis, we are all the same. The same pain, the same need to be loved and to love.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Ellen. I would contend that aggressiveness and competitiveness are primordial artifacts still present within us all, and only magnified or diminished by our environments and upbringing. Looking back on the bullies in my past and maybe understanding a little more about their lives through the lens of time, I can understand why they were the way they were. But a small part of my heart will never forgive or forget. And that's OK too.