Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Animal Insticts: Don't Mess With My Cubs.

I was a bullied child. It's something in my life that I look back on and know that it helped make me a strong woman today...but none-the-less a painful thing to remember.

I'll never forget the night when I really realized that these kids weren't just being mean to me, they were full-on bullying me. It was a cheerleading practice the night before a competition and I was in fifth grade. After we had taken a dinner break and come back to continue rehearsal, we were getting ready to start our routine again when a girl on my team turned around and said to me "you're so g*y". Then from behind me I heard the words "you tell her! she's the daughter of a b***h!". These comments came out of nowhere. I remember just trying to brush them off. I didn't retort...not that there was time to, because the music started. And then in between breaks of our routine again, the same handful of girls would suddenly burst out in one hateful phrase or another. "You're a fat a**!" (mind you, I was maybe 4 foot 7...90 pounds soaking wet) "hickey girl!" (still, no clue where that one came from)...the hateful words just kept coming, until I finally broke down in tears. I was 10 years old and couldn't imagine how people could say such awful things. And why did they have to be said to me?

The bullying for me continued almost until my sophomore year in high school. My parents had kindly allowed me to change schools, moving from private to public, in the 7th grade where I met some great friends (one who would become my maid of honor in my wedding), yet until about 10th grade I'd still receive harassing phone calls, e-mails and things being shouted at me if my bullies past me on the street. It even went so far to the fact that in the winter I dreaded walking home from school. Growing up in Pennsylvania, winter meant snow, and walking home meant being attacked by snow and ice balls. And it wasn't just girls...boys joined in on it too. Eventually, everyone must have gotten tired of me though, and I ended up making some great friends in high school. From 10th grade on my life consisted of helping out at home, working a part time job and going to a different dance most Friday nights with friends. I was too busy to worry about the bullies, and apparently they were to busy to bully me. And eventually, come 12th grade, my life consisted of oogling over the guy I had met who would become my husband 5 years later, and looking back on my experience, glad that it was in the past.

My experience with being bullied has, though, led to a major fear for my children. I have discovered this instinct inside myself lately where I just want to shield my baby from the awful parts of life. I don't ever want to have my child come home from school one day and tell me that someone was mean to them. I don't ever want to hear that my child told a teacher about it, and the teacher ignored it like so many did to me. I don't ever want my child to have even a minute of people saying awful hateful things to him or her. I just don't want any of it!

I know that part of my job as a parent will be to give my children the skill set and the strength to handle mean kids and bullies. I know that it is my job to teach them how to handle things in life. But I still wish that I could just always shield them and protect them and give them a perfect life. The best I can do is to teach them well, love them like crazy, listen when they speak, and hope that no one bullies them ever.

I chalk this all up to animal instinct. It's like being in the lion's den. Don't mess with the mamma's cubs.

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