By JENNIFER RAWLINGS
( originally published in Hybridmom)
Bullies probably go as far back as mankind itself. I am sure that’s why you often see in Paleolithic cave painting one person lying on the ground and the other person towering over them with a club in hand. The person with the club is clearly the bully and the guy on the ground, playing possum is the bully’s victim.
Until recently, all of my kids have survived school and the playground virtually bully- free, and their bones in tact. All of that changed a couple of weeks ago.
All of my children have a slight build and all of them are somewhat eccentric, but one of my boys is very thin and has not yet hit puberty or had his growth spurt. Instead of blending in with the other kids at the high school he attends, he opts for salmon colored jeans and turquoise t-shirts. He wears his hair in a faux-hawk and sports red plastic sunglasses over his huge blue eyes. All the kids in the high school know him – from the gang bangers, to the theatre kids, the jocks, and the science kids. His nickname around the high school is “salmon pants” and everyone likes him except for one mean kid that is twice his size.
Two weeks ago, I picked up my son from play rehearsal at the school and his jeans had black marks all over them, his shirt was disheveled and he was holding onto his right arm in pain.
I asked him what happened and he told me that “Bully X was so outraged that I was going to run against them in a “school club” election that Bully X ripped my book bag and picked me up and threw me on the concrete”. My son, a freshman also explained that Bully X was a senior.
This seemed unbelievable to me. In fact, I didn’t believe it. So I called one of the teachers that saw the tail end of the confrontation. To my own disbelief, the teacher confirmed that what my son had said was true. Big Bully X had thrown my reed thin son onto the asphalt. The next day I would discover that the fall caused a hairline fracture in my son’s arm.
I didn’t know what to do. I had never been bullied in high school – taunted yes by one six foot tall mean girl that would call me names whenever I passed her in the hall – but never bullied. Thankfully, none of my other children had been bullied (that I knew of). I am sure they have all suffered cruel comments and threats at the hands of thoughtless adolescents, but not physical violence. This was scary, uncharted territory for my son and me. I wanted to cry and scream and, truth be told, I wanted to confront this kid.
Thank God I had enough common sense to NOT confront Bully X, but I did call the big bully’s mom. This experience was shocking.
On my first phone call the mom hung up on me when I identified myself and told her why I was calling. I immediately called back. There was a calm in my voice that I did NOT recognize as my own. I explained to the mother that I understood how difficult it is to be mom and that I was not blaming her for her child’s actions. Momma bully starting screaming at me and defending her child’s behavior. I still don’t know how I remained calm on the phone, but I did. I gently explained to the mother that it was well within my rights to file assault and battery charges at the local police station against her 17-year-old child. I also explained that I did not want to that. All I wanted to know was how she was going to handle this issue in her home and what the consequences were going to be. The mom promised repeatedly to call me back the next day after she settled on a punishment. She also vowed to cover the doctor’s co-payment. She has never called me back and does not return any of my calls. She is a bully enabler.
This whole event has left me with a lot of questions. I do not condone physical or emotional violence but I also see this for what it is: a high school fight. I know that if I filed a police report Bully X would most likely be arrested and brought up on charges. But is that what is best for the Bully? High school fights have been going on for a long, long time and until recently parents did not press charges and most kids out grow this phase.
I am saddened by the Bully mom’s response because instead of taking responsibility she has chosen to bury her head.
I feel guilty about my response to the issue because in a world where even the teachers and administrator look to “ restraining orders” and “assault charges” as a solution, I have chosen to seek the path of conversation and personal accountability. This path is clearly failing because the mother won’t return my calls. I want my son to know that I love him and that the child that hurt him is being punished, but in all likelihood Momma bully is doing nothing to punish her child.
What would you do my dear readers and what road do we need to steer our kids down? I would like to see moms continue to build bridges of understanding and reach out even when someone is not yet ready to grasp our hand. But it’s hard to walk this path without a big stick.