“Don’t Laugh At Me”
A blog about bullying
Now in my seemingly normal stable adult world bullying seems like a thing of the past. Did people get nicer or am I completely immune?
Well I can’t find a real answer to my question but I imagine that being an adult has allowed me to selectively filter my social network and that filter has eliminated bullies.
But I know that they are still about. It became painfully obvious one evening when my husband and I walked the neighborhood and a couple of kids on bikes made fun of us. It wasn’t silly fun… it was mean, hurtful jeering. Imagine…children bullying two grown adults. Yes, I’ve concluded, bullying does still exist.
I can only recall one incident in my childhood that I was picked on because of my hearing aids. But event that I wouldn’t categorize as bullying. Looking back I think that boy just made a bad choice… his target.
I like to describe my grade school years as blissful and my understanding of life as oblivious. Oblivious blissfulness. I can’t think of a better way to grow up. I loved school. To me, my world was school, making the grade, seeing my friends, pleasing the teachers, moving up and working toward my goal (college). I was so focused on my bliss, my love of school , that I probably never noticed half the drama around me. But one day riding home from school I could not ignore the boy behind me. He was pointing out my hearing aids to the rest of the bus and then he flicked my hearing aid from behind. Well, that was not a good choice. I stood up and told him “How dare you touch my hearing aids… these are expensive and I need them to hear!” He seemed stricken and sat down. He never bothered me again. I wonder what he thought of me then. I wonder if he was ashamed. I don’t think he was really a bully. I guess I never had a bully target me. But why not?
Everything about me screamed “easy target”. I was poor and dressed in hand me downs. I had big glasses because they were the cheapest frames. I was overweight. I was a bookworm. I hung out with the nerds. I wore hearing aids and had to ask people to repeat themselves. I was awkward. But I never had a real bully experience. Maybe a quick laugh at my expense, but not a bully.
Here’s my take on it. In my bliss and ignorance and obviousness I was truly happy. And maybe happy people are not targets. I may have been the biggest dweeb I knew… but I liked myself. Were there things I would change if I could? Of course. I always wanted to be athletic and slim and have money and get good grades with ease instead of painstakingly studying all the time. But I still liked myself a great deal. I suppose liking myself made me a difficult target, not an easy on. I was not afraid to defend myself and maybe the bullies knew it.
Additionally my hearing loss was a mixed blessing. One of the best things about my hearing loss is that I have to be constantly exposed to the trash that spewed from everyone’s mouth; the talk of misguided decisions to do something bad or take up a dare; the discussions about the cruel reality of life with disappointment, abuse, drugs, and who knows what else people talked about. I was probably 15 before I started to pick up on swear words, sexual innuendos, slang and it was only because my best friend felt I should have an education in this area. I suppose at some point it is necessary. But by then my personality was set and I was still blissful.
People often asked me when I was younger… how can you be happy all time. I never understood that. Do I look stupid with a smile on my face? I love smiling. How could I not? Does that mean I didn’t have problems or that I was never sad or depressed or disappointed… NO! I had plenty of that. I just lived in the moment and when I was at school I was in the moment. I don’t think bullies like to pick on people who are living in the present, who like themselves, who are happy.
What should parents do to help their children avoid bullies? I wish I knew a straight answer. The best I can come up with is to be sure your child is happy. How do you ensure happiness? How do you teach happiness? I think it is to be happy yourself. I think if the parents are near to self actualization they may portray that to their child. We can’t be afraid to be ourselves; to embrace our individualism. To wear on the outside what we are on the inside.