Tuesday, December 9, 2014


There was once a girl; a beefy, brawny, kind-of-hairy girl, with big teeth and sausage-like fingers. I was the scrawny, skinny, short girl, whose ears poked out from my thin, stringy hair; so naturally, I was her favorite target. She beat me up and pushed me around from the third grade until the tenth grade. She hated me because she thought I was Mexican but refused to speak Spanish. I tried explaining that I was Indonesian and spoke Dutch. That concept is hard enough for most rational people to understand, so explaining it to an over-grown 10-year-old was impossible.

One time, she rammed my head into a metal beam in the school library. If only we'd had today's safety codes in 1983. Another time, she shoved me up against a wall and told me never to sing La Bamba. Ever. I narrowly missed being thrown against a giant Saguaro cactus. Another poor girl was not so lucky, and I helped her pull the cactus spines out of her red T-Shirt. I don't know if I'm remembering the red because that's what color her shirt was or if that was just the blood.

The greatest day of my life was in the tenth grade, when Beef Girl got pregnant and left school. I don't condone teen pregnancy in any way, but in this case, it REALLY worked out to my benefit.

So I finished growing up without anymore pummeling and went on with my life. I never really think much about it, except of course, Every Single Time Anyone Mentions Bullying. Which is more often than you'd think.

And now I'm discovering that my son is being bullied and I want to find the kid doing it and ram his head into a metal beam.

Here's the thing. I'm a (mostly) rational, non-confrontational type of person. So are my kids, if you can imagine such a thing. I have always taught them that there will be people you won't get along with or even like. And that's okay. It's human nature. HOWEVER, you DO have to be nice to everyone. It's important to take the high road. To be the bigger person. To not react when someone is trying to rile you.

It builds character.
It teaches them how to handle difficult situations.
It equips them with the ability to rise above.

This Higher Road stuff is so much harder as a mom.


  1. I was bullied in 7th-9th grade. I did my best to be the better "man" for 3 years. I got jumped by 2 of the 3 bullies my freshman year in front of the theater and I proceeded to earn a black eye, bloody nose and a broken hand. I was scared to death leading up to that evening in downtown Globe but I'm happy I took that chance. Said bullies never messed with me again from then on. School admin didn't do squat about it either. I have a nearly never ending amount of patience as a teacher but that patience disappears quick the minute I see kids bullying others in my class. How did you deal with these situations when you were teaching, Cindy? - John Garvey

  2. As a teacher, I had ZERO tolerance for bullying. I immediately pointed out the behavior as bullying, let the child know that it was not acceptable, and then I made the kid call home and tell his/her parents what he or she had done. The rest of that day was absolutely no fun for that kid. I also put them on "contract," which meant we wrote out an actual contract for behavior, expectations, and consequences. If the contract was broken, consequences were swift and stern!