This week Hailey went to a bullying workshop at her martial arts school and I sat through it and agreed with most of what was said, except that it was missing the one thing that all bullying talks seem to miss.
They get that most people will be bullied in their lives but you almost never see them point out that almost all of us will bully others ourselves. We talk about it like bullies are these horrible hobgoblins creeping around in corners because it’s easy to forget that we are the bullies. We all have the capacity to be cruel and horrible. Sometimes it’s because we’re young and stupid and scared. Sometimes it’s because we think we’re doing something noble or brave. Sometimes we’re screaming terrible things at people, but really we’re screaming those things at the ghosts that haunt us. And those people scream back. At us, and at their own invisible ghosts standing in front of us. Sometimes it’s done inadvertently. So much so that we don’t even recognize it. We don’t see that we step on the small tender pieces of others. We don’t recognize how unaware others are that they are stepping on us. We fight back because we have to stand up for ourselves and for others. We fight back at others because others are fighting back at us.
When Hailey comes home from school she sometimes tells me awful stories about kids being horrible and I try to help her. I tell her middle schoolers are a bunch of assholes. I tell her it’s good practice to ignore them because people are assholes all over. I help her with the ones she can’t handle on her own. But I do one thing that I hope other parents do as well. I remind her how easy it is be horrible ourselves. I tell her to be mindful of others. I tell her to be kind. And that is not always easy, as evidenced by the fact that my first response is to call middle schoolers “a bunch of assholes.”
Hailey found the bully seminar helpful though and was telling Victor about a few of the things she’d learned, like when you see a kid just about to get pummeled you can go up to that kid and say, “Hey, the principal told me to come get you.” That way you remove the kid from the situation and you have a reason to leave too. And they taught about how to protect your head in a fight, or how to deescalate it. And Victor said that all sounded good but if someone was pushing him around in middle school he’d just say, “Hey. You ever see a donkey-faced person get kicked in the mouth?” and I was like, “THAT’S TOTALLY NOT WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO” and Victor was like, “I didn’t say you should actually kick them in the face. Just…you know...ask the question. It’s not illegal to ask questions.” And Hailey was like, “Yeah. That sounds like a good way to get sent to the principal’s office,” but Victor was all, “Well, if your principal calls me in I’ll say, ‘Hey. You ever see a donkey-faced principal get kicked in the mouth?'” and then I yelled, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU ARE A TERRIBLE EXAMPLE,” and he shrugged and said, “I’m just asking an innocent question. I really want to know‘.” And then we had to leave Red Lobster because I was yelling too loudly and Hailey couldn’t stop laughing.
I sort of lost track of this blog post but I think the main point is that you should be kind. And tell your kids to not be assholes. And don’t have loud disagreements at Red Lobster because they’re really sensitive about that shit.
I don’t have a good image for this post so here’s an angry otter: