Last night I was talking with my brother while my crazy girls squirmed and giggled. He had come over after a long day of physical labor to help me out. I took him out to dinner, he watched the girls while I battled the lawn.
We were talking about how lucky I am to have such goofy silly kids. M is a ham, getting in trouble more for trying to make her friends laugh than the kinds of things that are early warning signs for being a juvenile delinquent. H, though only 11 months old, already knows that she has the power to make someone laugh.
I’m happy to have fun kids. Being a kid should be fun, it should be filled with laughter and giggling and silly faces. I mentioned how nice it was since I was an overly serious kid. He said he didn’t always remember it being that way. He remembered me being very silly and fun. Then it changed.
I know when it changed. It changed then the bullying got to be too much. When the years of being picked on for being different took their toll and I could no longer laugh it off. It happened when the teachers started being the bullies too.
I remember being made fun in seventh grade by a teacher for having a hyphenated last name. Being called out in front of a whole group of my peers because “what would happen if I married someone with a hyphenated last name, would I have four last names then”. Singled out, for being different.
I remember being called in to the principals office because I was wearing ripped jeans. Accused of the rips being too high on my jeans, despite the fact that I wore opaque dance tights underneath them and the rips only went as high as just above my knees. Even though I took classes with an older boy who had rips on his jeans so high that you could see his boxer shorts. (it was the 80s, there was no accounting for taste)
I was teased on the swim team for not shaving my legs, because I wasn’t allowed to by my feminist mother.
I was spit on on the bus. I was mocked in front of my class by my teachers. I wasn’t protected by the adults charged with my care.
I was bullied for being me.
Bullying changes you. It takes a silly kid and turns them serious. Makes them not trust the world. When authority figures fail to protect, when they join in, how can you trust that anyone really cares?
I love my silly, goofy, happy children. I will speak out against bullies. I will challenge teachers and administrators, I will call them out for what they are. I will make it different for them.