My first encounter with a bully was when I witnessed a classmate have milk poured on their head. I was 5 years old and waiting for my mother to pick me up from half day kindergarten. I recall thinking that the act was mean but the kid who did it was much older, so I stayed silent.
I recall one day during class when another classmate, lied about sharing a snack with me. Because of the lie, I kicked her right in her shin. Our teacher believed me but I still was punished because kicking is not nice nor was it allowed.
Both of the incidents mentioned helped me to understand that I never wanted to be a bully nor mean person. Overall I was a compassionate child who cared about others. I didn’t like to share but if I had to I would. I also would stand up for someone who was wronged.
Move from kindergarten to 3rd grade at a new school. In addition, a new school where I started after the school year had begun. Due to a change in my family dynamic my mother didn’t register me into school until October of that particular year. I often think had home schooling been popular she may have chosen that option.
When I began at the new school, I had what were considered fancy clothes or rich girl clothes. All of my school clothes were sent from my grandmother. A huge box filled with dresses, pants, tops, under garments, shoes, and even hair bows came each year. All of my clothes were brand named. Oh did I mention that my school was in a neighborhood that had multiple incomes including those in public housing.
One day when I was late getting to school, I decided to run away for the day. Not from home but from school. My plan was to visit a family member who lived on the other side of the city. In my 8-year-old mind, it seemed like a good idea. I was blessed that God sent an angel that day. A woman working the ticket booth at a parking lot saw me and stopped me. She called my school after I told her where I attended.
During the drive back to school with one of the school social workers, I explained I had run away because girls were mean to me. So when I we got back to school all the girls of my 3rd grade class were hauled into the counselor’s office. Having to face these girls was scary but that was one of the building blocks that made me face my fear of bullies.
Throughout elementary school there was one of the main mean girls that consistently picked on me. She would taunt me and do what kids do to make life miserable. I use to dread going to school and my mom having been a shy child understood. My dad taught me how to defend myself and I eventually did punch one male bully in the gut. This stopped him from bothering me.
The crowning point of me dealing with bullies happened one day on the playground during recess. I was in the 7th grade at this point. My arch nemesis was pushing me literally and figuratively. Maybe it was my budding pre-teen hormones or maybe she had pushed me once to many times but I went off. I spewed every curse word I had ever heard my dad or older cousins use directly at her. The bully who had taunted me for years looked completely and utterly shocked. Then I said, “okay let’s do this.” I raised my fist up and made my stance firm like my dad taught me. She backed down and after that moment never bothered me again.
Standing up to my childhood bullies was tough but it helped make me the person I am today. I am stronger and more confident in the issues I can conquer. Life is not always filled with people who we like or with whom we agree. Until recently, I still held angst toward the mean girls from elementary school but now I know they helped build the activist that I am today. Along with loving parents and good friends, I am a person who believes in helping people no matter their situation.
My journey through the maze of childhood bullying has helped build a confident, determined, and defender of those less fortunate. I know my 8-year-old self would be pretty proud of the woman I have become. However, every child is different and these days with social media bullies have new resources. In the end any person child or adult who bullies needs to be confronted. It is amazing how quickly bullies back down when you call their bluff.
For information about bullying and how to handle it go to http://stopbullying.gov.
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