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Posts Tagged ‘bully’

Crushing the 7th Grade Gentleman

fightingLast night, after getting the coolest hair cut ever, Sandor got a phone call.

I could only hear his side on the conversation.

“He said what?”

“Oh man, yeah, I’ll handle that in the morning.”

“Thanks, Buddy”  he said as though he were in a business meeting. Then he hung up.

As casually as I could, I asked what was going on.

Sandor said, “This new kid at school he called my friend Katie a name.” Then he leaned over and said, “He called her a slut.”

“That’s horrible! ” I responded. These kids are only in seventh grade.

I thought about the girls in his class. Seventh grade is tough and wonderful.  All the girls are going through a really beautiful and hopelessly awkward phase. Soon they will all look like through breeds but for now….

Alex jumped in “If you get in a fight, you’ll get suspended. Do not let that happen.”

“Yes sir. I know. I’d never throw the first punch. But I can’t let him go around saying that kind of stuff.”

I looked at him. “So what are you gonna do?”

And then with a calm, almost dismissive air he assured me, “I’ll handle it Mom.”

At that point I wanted to demand details but I have to let him be a man, a good man and a gentleman.

If I stop him from defending this girl because I’m worried about the outcome and his future, what message am I sending? If I squash his attempt to be honorable and a gentleman what kind of man will I be left with. One that looks away when somebody is being bullied or robbed. Who avoids conflict because they don’t want to get in trouble.

It’s a fine line parents walk now. Zero tolerance has left little room for heroics .

But the truth is, when I listen to his 7th grade stories it’s the hot headed boys who throw off their back packs and start swinging, who are in most of the fights and get in trouble. Something offends them and they all start throwing the haymakers.

Sandor knows how to punch but he’s also very reflective. He thinks things over, sometimes too much.  I guess I need to relax. If he says he’s gonna handle it…..it will be handled.

 

 

Training Our Boys To Be Losers

absEvery magazine,  poster and ad campaign seems focused on helping our girls with their self esteem. There are  lots and lots of commercials about making sure our girls feel good about themselves. And I’m glad. Girls are brilliant, beautiful creatures. As my oldest daughter Mary says, “I’m awesome, have you met me?”

But our boys are being left in the ditch. These days a lot more girls go to college than boys and that difference is increasing every year. We spend a lot of time and money telling girls they are smart and can do anything but when was the last time you saw an ad on tv encouraging boys?

We tell girls their bodies are beautiful, no matter what size. But not the boys. Trust me, boys worry, a lot. I can name half a dozen 12 and 13 year old guys who have been in my kitchen recently and made fun of their own soft bellies, skinny arms, lack of defined abs or puny legs.

Unlike lots of girls with the same issues, guys tend to make fun of themselves before others do. The danger of boys lacking self esteem is they act out in a different way than girls.  Girls cry or get catty, boys start fights and turn into bullies when they think they aren’t good enough. Or they simply disappear into the back ground.

In school, boys with muscles are absolutely more popular than the smart guys. But that’s nothing new.

But the truth is a many athletic guys peak in high school. They are super stars that fizzle as adults. And because no one encouraged them to develop their brains as well as their bodies, they go on to live average lives . For some that’s great, but many of these guys are way too smart to be stuck in minimum wage jobs.

All the time,perfectly good boys, intelligent boys, tell me they aren’t smart. They tell me they are good at sports or gaming so they don’t plan on going to college or a trade school. They are already planning on small lives and smaller careers. And nobody really seems to be correcting them. Girls on the other hand we push and encourage constantly.

Several years ago when Sandor was in 3rd or 4th grade Alex and I went to a “Parents Math Night.” Teachers explained the math they were working on so we could better help our kids at home.  All the parents there had daughters. We were the only ones there for a male student.

When it comes to boys, Bs and Cs are ok, as long as they are passing. That’s about the best we can ask from our boys, right? Why don’t we insist our boys strive for excellence, for brilliance, for their best?

Parents, if you want your boys to be successful you have to build them that way. Teach them to shake hands,and insist they have good manners and be respectful. Boys who are respectful and know how to shake hands are able to get jobs and then be successful. Because bosses like those boys.

Society wants us to encourage our girls to succeed. So, parents you must push your boys to be more than strong. They need to be smart and hard working. And then you will have a successful man.

After The Bully Walks Away

bullyOne of my Taekwondo students is a little fellow, seven years old, round as a bowling ball with terribly buck teeth. His name is James.   When he started six weeks ago his mom warned me that James had all kinds of issues like ADD and mild Asperger’s .  It might be true but he just seems like a sweet squirrely, twitchy little boy to me.

As round as James is he always goes hard, tries  to kick high (knee level) and punch fast.  He gets to class early and stays late and constantly asks me to watch his new combos or made up kicks. James gets so excited that he interrupts and has a very hard time holding still.  But he’s a wonderful little boy.

Last week we worked on falling properly. It’s an easy technique that keeps you from getting hurt if your pushed down. I explained to the students they needed to learn to fall and roll, break their fall with their arms and don’t let their heads bounce on the ground.  We practiced falling and jumping right back up over and over. Then moved on to a new drill.

Yesterday in class James was twitching around, sizzling with a story he had to share. We all sat down to stretch and I said, “What is it James?”

“Ms. Diana, yesterday on the playground a mean guy pushed me down and I fell just like you taught us. I even used my arms!” He was so excited.

“Who was the kid?”

James shrugged, “I don’t know, just a kid.”

“Did a teacher see it happen?”

“No ma’am but I told one. She told me to stay away from him. But I fell just like you told me.”

“We’ll good job James. I ‘m glad you remembered.”

I thought about James getting pushed down as I drove home that night and as I drank my coffee this morning. I don’t want that kid getting pushed down. And if he does I want him coming up like a freight train. I want him to have the confidence and skills that  keep him safe on the play ground. But he’s just a buck toothed bowling ball white belt right now.

Someday James won’t be  proud of how he falls down, he’ll be proud of the way he gets back up.

The Mean Teacher…..Is Going Down

teacherOn Sunday my 10 year old son, Sandor, said the words every parent fears, “I don’t want to go to school, they’re so mean”

“Who’s mean?” I pounced on the conversation like a puma. Was my boy being bullied? I was ready to kick some 5th grade butt.

He plopped down next to me on the couch. “The teachers, they talk to the kids so mean. I swear they hate us.”

This was a new situation. Sandor always loves his teachers and does very well in school. Open house night is one of my favorites because the teachers gush on and on about how great he is and what a wonderful mother I must be. When my self esteem is low I re-live parent teacher conferences. That’s how great Sandor usually does in school.

“Are they mean to you or just strict?”

“I can handle strict but they say really bad stuff to the other kids, not me really.”

My inner detective began taking notes. “Like what?”

“If you take more than even a second to answer a question they say “sit down” real fast.”

“Ok,” I said, thinking maybe it wasn’t’ that bad.

“And yesterday a new kid  tried to answer an English question. He got it wrong and was about to try again and Mrs. XXX said. ‘did you go to this school last year?”

“No ma’am.”

“Were you in any “special” classes at your old school?”

Wow, that really was a mean thing to say. I was shocked.

“I felt so sorry for him, Mom. He’s kind of annoying but still, she shouldn’t say stuff like that.”

He was right, she shouldn’t. Two days latter he came in a with a similar story. Apparently, my son has a teacher/bully, a grown adult who mocks and teases instead of teaches.

I’m not storming the principal’s office yet. It’s only the second week of school. I have to pick and chose my battles.

Then I told Sandor about a bubble trick I made up.  When the teachers start getting mean and loud just  close the bubble door. You’re inside, you can see and hear and focus, but the anger and chaos outside the bubble don’t have any effect on you. I made this bubble up for one of my Taekwondo students who was always getting mad at his little brothers and sisters.

Yesterday Sandor nearly tackled me and yelled, “The bubble worked, it totally worked!”

I was stunned. Maybe I’ll have to try it out at work tomorrow.

I’ll keep you posted as to what I do with the teacher.  Sandor can stay in his bubble but I’ve got a feeling at some point I’ll end up popping hers.

Girl Bullies and Groin Kicks on the Playground

football-sandor-207x300This morning Lexie stood in the bathroom doorway as I was putting on my makeup.  “Talk to Sandor about Kennedy, she’s kicking him in the groin on the playground.”

Kennedy is Sandor’s ex-girlfriend.  They are in fourth grade and “went out” for months.   Much to my surprise they were holding hands and he walked around with his arm around her sometimes, just like big kids. But two months ago Sandor broke up with Kennedy because “she got mean and bossy and stopped being fun to play with”.

I waited till we were in the car. “So what’s going on with Kennedy?”

He made a noise with his throat meaning he was disgusted. “She hits me and pushes me from behind and kicks me all the time on the playground.”

“Did you tell the teacher?”

“I tried but she wouldn’t listen.  She told me to ignore it. But she does it every day.”

“Has she ever actually made contact when she kicked at you?”

“Yeah, lots of times. She got my knee last week but she was aiming for my nuts. If she was a dude I’d hit her so hard.”

Sandor has been in Taekwondo for seven years so his defensive skills are pretty sharp. Good thing Taekwondo teaches lots of groin blocks.

And he’s not afraid of a fight.  A couple of weeks ago he came home with bloody knees. He told me a bigger kid grabbed his basket ball and threw it into a ditch then started walking away. Sandor ran up behind the kid jumped on his back. They both went down. Thankfully teachers didn’t see all this action or both boys would be in ISS.

But Sandor doesn’t know what to do with Kennedy…because she’s a girl. Teachers don’t pay attention…because she’s a girl. Sandor is ten and knows he would get into so much trouble if he hit a girl at school…but how’s he supposed to react?

It’s a reverse bully sexism situation.

Good thing there’s only three weeks of school left. Until then he better keep on blocking.

 

The Truth About Bullies

  Last night we watched Chronicles, the whole family.

  It’s a fine movie, the kids loved it.(spoiler alert) A teen aged boy is bullied and bullied, at home and at school. Then he and a couple of buddies get telekinetic powers and the fun begins. Think Carrie with a modern look and no pig blood.

In a perfect world  all the  bullied kids would turn into compassionate bully counselors who help make the world and schools a better place.  But we all know that’s not how it really is.

Well, the bullied kid in the movie,  seems sweet enough, but he turns into an absolute jerk and then he morphs into a monster. He’s been bullied and instead of being a kid with super powers who is understanding and heroic, he’s bitter and brutal.

He wants to kill everybody because he’s more powerful.

The truth is, sometimes  victims don’t turn into the compassionate citizens. Sometimes, victims become horrible people. So the movie, Chronicles, was a cautionary tale.  Victims who have been squashed, want to squish everybody else.

But that doesn’t excuse their behaviour.

Girl bullies are the worst because it’s emotional and cruel.  If you’re a boy that’s getting bullied, it’s easier to stand up and overcome  the physical abuse. 

But Girls….they are wicked.  Mary was bullied as a little girl, in elementary school. And now she is a hero for the under-represented.  She lives to serve up justice like a juicy steak. She wants to help those who are beat down and if she gets to beat down the bullies that makes her day even better. She’s bold, beautiful, exceptionally opinionated and pretty judgemental….in a brilliant super hero sort of way. Mary is now an “empowered, gorgeous, used- to- be- bullied girl” Most of the girls who used to pick on Mary are now unmarried with a couple of kids, working at a C-store. Mary will get her  Masters and works at the Clinton Foundation. Justice will be hers.

But she could have gone the other way.  She could have become bitter and cruel.

Last year, Sandor realized a squirrelly kid, Jason, was getting bullied in the boy’s bathroom. He was in third grade and didn’t know what to do. We talked the situation over and came up with a plan.(Yes, we told the principal too) When Sandor ran into the problem again all he did was say “Come on, Jason,” the kid followed him out the door.  Sandor escorted the boy out of the bathroom like a security detail. It worked.

Sometimes just extracting someone from a bad situation is enough to help. Bullies are cowards, if somebody, even a little boy, stands up, sometimes they back down. I think that’s because bullies actually know what they are doing is wrong.

I’m tired of talking about bullies and I’m sick of their stories and excuses. They are weak and mean and most are pretty stupid too. 

Parents, if your kid is a bully, you probably know it already.  Do something about it.

Stupid Cyber-Bully

Finally, I have almost experienced a cyber-bully. I let my youngest son,I’ll call him Bucky, have a Facebook page even though he’s only 9. But I use my e-mail address so I have access to the page and see everything people write.

Bucky doesn’t really care about anything except looking at cool pictures, the silly games and writing “Hi’ on everybody’s wall.

Things have been problem free for more than a year but last month a  kid name Jason that I don’t know sent Bucky a message, something like, “my homie said u r gay for real.”

I didn’t catch this comment until Bucky wrote back “butt face”.

Then Jason, who is three years older than Bucky wrote ‘bring it on dick banger”.  Bucky didn’t know what any of this meant so he came to me to ask what Jason was talking about.

AAAARRRRR. I blocked Jason after going over every message, picture and video on his face book page.

“Who is this kid”,I asked Bucky while he was playing with his Legos.

“I don’t know, I think he rides my bus.”

“You don’t know him?”

“Not really, he’s in like 5th grade.” 

Bucky didnt’ seem bothered so after blocking “bad kid Jason” I let everything drop.  I told big sister to keep an eye on Bucky while they were on the bus.

We haven’t heard from Jason in a month, but today a new message popped up on Bucky’s page. All it said is “F UUUUUUUUU.”

So what am I supposed to do?  Should I send “bad kid Jason” a message and say, “Hey, idiot, this is Bucky’s “Bad-A” mom, and I’m reading all the messages you send.”

Do I ignore it?

Or, do I print the messages out and go tell his mom?  I figured out who she and and were she works while studying his FB page.

One thing I have figured out. Just having access to your child’s FB isn’t enough. You have to actually look at the page. Figure out what’s really going on.

I’ll let you know what happens.  Please, send me ideas if you have any. Please, please please.  hampoland@gmail.com

Why That Boy Acts Like A Boy

I recently read a blog entitled “Why Our Sons Wear Pink”.  A mom explained why she encourages her sons to be sensitive and gentle. She thinks people like boys who are rough and jock like.  But I think things are going in the opposite direction.

 A lot of folks get mad because little boys act like little boys. They are too rough, too tough and too violent. And it’s not politically correct.

But boys are boys and girls are girls. We don’t get mad at little girls for being too “girly” . We don’t get mad at girls for wearing pink and taking care of their baby dolls. We don’t fuss at them for being too sweet or too nurturing.

But boys take a beating for being too aggressive and too violent, for pretending to shoot things and beat up dudes. I love it when my nine year old plays in his room, when he draws and listens to music. But i try to be patient when he’s a screaming, hollering crazy guy running around in the yard with his bb gun and jumping off the playhouse onto the trampoline with a foam sword.

 I’m the first parent to jump into a hot messy situation about a kid that’s a bully or too aggressive. When that happens I start calling parents and principals. I hang out on the playground. And I don’t let my kids play violent video games.

But boys and men were were made to be hunters and protectors. Girls were designed to take care of their young. Sometimes the boys have to take care of the babies and the girls have to go hunt down dinner, so a person who can do both is invaluable. But for the most part that’s how humans were designed. Seahorses and birds are different but we are humans. (I know I break the rules I’m reciting…I’ve been involved in Martial Arts for years and love boxing, but taking care of my kids is the most important thing I do.)

I agree we have to encourage our boys to be sensitive and compassionate. We must teach them to respect everybody, not just the alpha males.  Parents  need to encourage boys to appreciate the arts, music and literature. But as a society we need to stop blasting our boys for being boys. 

My oldest son, Jack is 24 years old.  When he was born I was a very tan hippie chick who hated guns.  I wouldn’t let Jack play with guns…ever.  So the boy turned everything, from Legos to bannanas, into a gun. My daughter, Mary, who is 16 months younger had absolutely no use or interest in guns.

Parents, this is on you, insist and encourage you boys be respectful and kind but don’t beat them up if they want to sword fight, wrestle, and hunt down bad guys. Let those boys be boys.

*Important Note: If your child is gay, understand God made him that way and love him just the way he is. If you’re child is mean or a bully make him stop and don’t make excuses. Don’t use the line “he’s just being a boy” if he’s actually an obnoxious punk.

Tell me what you think, comment or write to me! Thanks, diana

hampoland@gmail.com

The Gay Bully Again

                                                                                   My daughter recently wrote a blog about bullies in her highschool. You can read it at http://sillystupidhighschoolblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/go-nerds.html  And it made me think about this blog I wrote about a year ago.  My daughter, Mary, was bullied when she was a little girl. But the story isn’t what you’d expect. Thanks for reading.

 When I dropped Sandor, my 8 year old son, off this morning he ran  to the playground, overwhelmed by his backpack. He never hesitated or even looked back at me. Instead he happily threw himself into the ocean of kids.

With stunning clarity, I remember the year Mary hated that ocean of kids.She would get out of the car soooo slowly, look at me, pleading with her eyes that I wouldn’t make her go to school. And then  Mary would gather all her nine year old courage and walk toward the play ground.

That was the year Mary had a bully problem and it was bad. A little red neck white trash boy named James Rufus made my Mary’s life absolute hell. He was a short, skinny kid, with shaggy, semi-greasy hair and hand-me-down jeans and tee-shirts. James had the kind of “screw you” expression that made you want to slap him before he even opened his mouth. And if you did try to talk to the boy he would just shrug and say “what ever”. Every day this nightmare of a boy singled Mary out on the playground. He followed her around and called her horrendous names, “fat bitch cow” being the least offensive. He said she did things to boys that she didn’t even understand. 

I was  furious. I wanted to burn the school down. Of course I talked to teachers, principals, counselors. I cried and yelled, threatend the school with law suits, I even threatened to have nine year old James Rufus arrested on harrassment charges. If somebody followed me  and called me vile names I could have them arrested. But I couldn’t stop James.

The school counseled him, gave him ISS, took away recess and sent notes home but nothing worked. Mary came home day after day, crying, confused and miserable. I was furious and heartbroken.

Finally, after more than a month of horrendous verbal abuse Mary snapped. She screamed at James Rufus in front of kids and teachers, “My dad’s got a nine millimeter gun and he’s gonna kill you if you don’t stop, James.”

Mary was immediatly suspended from third grade. This was 15 years ago and the country was terrified of school shootings.

While Mary was home I called the school to get the Rufus’ phone number. They wouldn’t give it to me but I poked around and found somebody who know somebody and they gave me the number.

I remember so clearly, my hand was shaking with absolute rage as I dialed the number. I was going to eat that entire family for lunch.

James answered the phone. “This is Mary’s mom, James, let me talk to your mom or dad.”

He sounded tiny, “Please don’t do that, Ms. Hampo I swear to God I’ll stop. Please don’t tell my dad.”

“James, I have to. I can’t let you keep on hurting my daughter. I love her too much.”

He begged and begged then finally handed the phone to his father. I explained the situation and I remember the man’s exact words, ‘I’m gonna beat the shit out of that kid. I swear to God he’ll never say a word to your daughter.”

I felt sick and tried to reason with him.I tried to tell him I didn’t think beating James was the answer but he didn’t hear a word  and hung up suddenly.

James Rufus never said another word to Mary and six month latter he was out of our school. He had to go to the “alternative” school, the hell hole they send the “bad kids”.

Now, here’s the strange part of this story.  Mary and James are now friends on facebook, though he says he doesn’t really remember her from school. Of course he doesn’t. Bullies don’t remember anybody they pick on. But the victims, those that are bullied remember ever single brutal word.

And Jame Rufus is now openly gay, he told Mary he has a boyfriend and he sells real estate.  Even now I can’t  imagine what it would be like for a gay boy in our little rural Arkansas school district or in the single wide trailer the Rufus family lived in.

Suddenly, it all makes sense. That’s what Mary said when she found out  about James Rufus.