I know I’m in trouble when my high school senior comes home from school and my sister asks him, “Did you tell mom what happened today?”
Oh great! What now?
“The first incident of bullying here,” Johnny replies. FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!! This kid has been a target for bullying since elementary school. He’s shy, wears glasses, is smart and doesn’t get into trouble. Somehow his personality always attracts the attention of other boys who think it’s their job to torture other kids for fun. Every time we’ve moved it’s been similar. Someone always targets Johnny.
We moved to Holts Summit just before Johnny was supposed to start the 7th grade. In our previous home 7th grade was the first year of middle school. But for Holts Summit it was the middle of middle school. He got thrown into school with kids who had already been in middle school for a year. Tossed into the sea of hormones and cliques and social unknowns. It was CRAPTASTIC!
A student who had been the object of other kids’ negative attention decided that Johnny would make a great target for his negative feelings. I’m sure it made the other child feel powerful after feeling so powerless. Thankfully, that ended quickly, but others continued their torture. Knocking his books to the floor in a crowded hallway when teachers weren’t looking. Purposely pushing. Putting him in a headlock in the locker room. Yeah…
Usually I didn’t find out about the bullying incidents until there were several that had happened. Johnny didn’t like to tell me when he was the butt of someone else’s jokes or torture. Being bullied makes a person feel small and helpless. No one wants to feel that way. He took it and took it and took it until he erupted; tears spilling down his hot cheeks.
I clearly remember one Friday afternoon when Johnny came home from school and broke down and told me about another student bullying him. I don’t remember any of the details. But I remember the Mother Bear that reared its head in that moment. Furious doesn’t even describe how it made me feel. I almost drove myself down to that school and marched into the office to make things right. Thankfully a more rational side of me kicked in and I sat down to the computer and sent out some emails. There was a super-fast reply and on Monday morning the staff worked to change his schedule to protect him from being preyed upon by this bored, angry, sad and hormonal student.
Needless to say, I wrote a lot of emails and made a lot of phone calls during Johnny’s middle school career.
We moved to Texas and I was so thankful that no one bullied him. Yeah. No one bullied him. But then no one noticed him either. He was lost like a tiny grain of sand on a huge beach. In a year he made one good friend. Unfortunately we learned rather quickly that in that high school you needed to be in sports or some sort of extracurricular activity to be noticed. He’s not athletic and has no desire to be. I’m not sure which is worse…being bullied or being invisible.
Last summer, just before his senior year in high school and we moved again. Again the new kid. And now he’s getting bullied again? Great! Just GREAT!!
“Okay, so what happened?” I asked.
“A kid taped me to my chair.”
“WHAT!?!?” I can’t help it…I start to laugh. Oh the mental image. Wait. Stop! I don't need to add to his humiliation. I take a breath and make myself stop laughing.
“Okay, so tell me what happened?”
“I was just sitting there doing my work and the kid next to me started wrapping tape around me.”
What in the world was the kid thinking? Gee…it would be fun to tape this kid up. Seriously?
So he starts wrapping tape around Johnny’s arms, chest and back. Johnny stands up and tears the tape apart. (I’m sure he was imagining himself as the Hulk.)
And the kid still has his hands on Johnny. Really? Johnny pushes the kid away and sits down.
Luckily the teacher saw enough to know that it wasn’t Johnny’s fault. Sigh. THANK goodness! The predator was punished. Good times. Good times.