I had a really proud mom-moment yesterday! We’d just come from school and Joshua was sitting on the couch and telling me about his day. One of his stories made my heart swell and made me silently say a big thank you to all his bullies!
My son the hero
Yesterday at school during playtime, Josh noticed a girl (whom he did not know) with some kind of dark stain at the back of her school dress.
We’ve all had this accident happen to us during our monthlies at some time or other. Even (horror of horrors) at school or at work. It is always mortifying!
Going over immediately, Josh tapped her on the shoulder and whispered in her ear!
When he told her about the big stain on her dress, he said she looked very panicked and embarrassed. My gentleman son then told her to remove her jacket and wear it around her waist.
Joshua is ten years old and didn’t know where the stain on her dress had come from. All he knew is that the other boys would make a fuss of her if they saw it. He did not want her to get picked on.
Bullies, you suck
I can only attribute this chivalrous behavior to Josh getting bullied at school.
Last year, bullying was an issue he had to deal with more than once. He was either getting picked on or he was defending another poor kid. It usually involved the same two aggressive boys (thankfully no longer at the school). And bullies will pick on you for anything!
One day a group of older kids were teasing Josh and his buddies for wearing sandals on civvies day! Josh loves his crocs and likes to be comfortable whereas other kids are wearing the latest sneakers. He simply does not care about fashion. If you ever spot him looking half-way decent, know that we’ve just had a huge row where he told us off for making him look like a “first class (American pronunciation) boy“!
There are days when Josh comes home angry and says how kids were teasing him again for being “different”. He loves space, science books and minecraft. He also likes to space out and go on missions in his head.
When he is walking around, you can actually see (if you pay close enough attention) that he is intently landing a plane in his imagination.
One day his first grade teacher actually stopped mid-lesson to ask him to go outside the classroom to land and park his plane. She said he did just that and came back a minute later all smiles and able to focus on work!
Although we love him with all his little quirks, this makes him a prime target for bullying by the older jock-type boys at school.
How being bullied has changed him
Being bullied has not beaten him down though! It’s actually made him stronger and more resilient. Josh knows that we love him just as he is. That some of the most successful people in the world are “geeks” who probably got bullied too. One day he will find his tribe. Or maybe he won’t since both his parents mostly prefer their own company too!
BUT being bullied has had other effects on him too.
Josh is very empathetic towards other children. Knowing what it feels like to be picked on made him more sensitive to how other kids feel when picked on. He has become quite zealous about defending the underdog. He is not afraid to stand up to bullies (one or two have seen our gentle giant losing his temper!), even when it’s not directed at him.
I can’t help but gives thanks for his resilience and empathy. Even though it really sucks when it’s our kid being picked on!
Thanks to his bullies, we have a son with a big heart for other kids who are “different” and “geeks”. Unknowingly, they’ve given him a strength of character that is rare for his age!
When your child is the one being bullied
Even though our school has a strict anti-bullying policy, bullying will always continue to happen for as long as the schools allow it to. In my opinion, the punishment dealt out to bullies are far too lenient. There should be zero tolerance ie. immediate suspension or expulsion and this is unrealistic in our overcrowded school system. Our school mostly gives detention or a warning by the headmaster to bullies which is simply not enough to deter them.
While we can’t eradicate bullying or control how others treat our kids, we can teach them resilience. We need to pay attention all the time and check in on what is happening at school. Just by talking to your child about the day will help you pick up if something is wrong.
With Josh and Alex, I find that it’s at home where their self-esteem and sense of worth comes from. It really helps a lot that we completely accept both of them with all their quirks because we all have quirks! It makes us who we are. Knowing that they are loved makes a huge difference in how they handle themselves out there in the wild!