* october is national anti-bullying month. *
this is a subject that dear hubby and i visit often now that we are parents. it’s in the news these days as a young girl in BC committed suicide recently, it’s on the agenda at the parent council meeting at bear’s school and it sits in the back of my mind as memories from my youth haunting me at times.
when i was a kid, we called it teasing.
when i was growing up in finland, i was never targeted, but at the age of 11 my parents and i moved to australia. my dad was working on a big project there and so we followed him down under. i was raised in a bilingual family, my mom has always spoken finnish, my dad english. but, i didn’t really know how to read or write in english when growing up in finland, but i my verbal skills were excellent. in australia, i was in grade six and i was such an outsider and targeted pretty heavily by my peers. the kids had no clue about finland and asked if we had lived in an igloo or had a tv. i spoke with an accent, had no idea that gumboots were rubber boots and was unaware of the cool way to roll my socks. the other kids laughed and taunted me for not knowing various swear words or sexual terms. i would go home in tears and eventually told my parents who went to the school. but, nothing really helped. then, in grade seven i switched schools and made a handful of good friends and the rest of my time on australia was a positive experience.
but then, we moved again. not back to finland, but to canada. so, again due to cultural differences i was targeted and bullied. this time, the kids were meaner and more aggressive, probably because we were older. one boy would even hit me in the head, all the time saying, “hey, you wanna cuff?” this time, i didn’t tell anyone, because i was older and way more insecure about everything (weren’t we all at 12/13 years). my body was changing; i was growing at a shocking rate going from the smallest kid in class to one of the tallest girls in a matter of a year! i was teased for the shoes i wore, for not wearing a bra and then one day for wearing a bra, for calling an eraser a rubber, which in canada is a condom!
it was hard. really hard. i made some good friends, but they were targeted as well for being smart, or for wearing their hair the wrong way or whatever. my self worth and esteem were low and once i hit high-school, i was on the fast train going downhill, fast and furious! i went from cute to not-so-cute! my look and attitude changed from smiles to angst, presented through ripped jeans, loud music and frightening behaviour, which i’m not going to get into here!
i was scarred quite deeply from the years of teasing, taunting and bullying. i carry those scars today and although i like to think i have grown into a confident adult, when i hear about the kids today being bullied, my past comes rushing back to me. all the self loathing and feelings of loneliness come back to me in an instant, because my pain was very real.
dear hubby doesn’t get it as he was never teased, which i think is pure luck, because kids around him, his friends were bullied.
here’s a quick look at my awkward years. yikes!
i survived, i think, because the cyber-internet-facebook-world didn’t exist back when i was a kid, so i got a break from the attacks. i went to ballet and those friends had no idea about what was happening at school. unfortunately, it is so different for kids today as they do not have that luxury of compartmentalizing their lives as easily. thanks to the internet their worlds come colliding together, whether they want it or not and the bullying in incessant. the internet also provides the attackers with a veil of anonymity and once something is out there is cyber space, it stays there! October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It is to help raise awareness of cyber security and online attacks.
my eldest, my sweet bear has some of his own ideas about fashion as a four-and-a-half year old. he loves sparkly things and his rubber boots have pink hearts all over them. most would label his boots as being meant for girls and one day someone is going to say something cruel to him about them. his previous boots had flowers on them and some big kid at the library made a point about them. dude also has loves his red pants, his tights; he tells me his favourite colours are pink and yellow, which shouldn’t matter, but again, someone is going to tell him that boys should not like pink.
i am so scared for him. i don’t want his naivete and wonder to be shattered by some bully telling him he’s not wearing the right clothes.