There’s been a fair amount of posts about bullying in the blogosphere of recent late and I’ve read them with interest. Donna Wishart from What The Red Head Said wrote only last week of her experiences at being bullied as an adult and I’ve read plenty more to do with times looked back on from other’s school days.
I myself wasn’t really bullied at school – at least that’s how I remember it. There were brief moments in my teens where it kind of got a bit on top of me but for the most part, I think my strong and feisty personality saved me from anything truly nasty. But… When it did happen momentarily it was down to something rather ridiculous, something which didn’t so much as reflect on me but on the people who wanted to get me down – doesn’t it always?. And though it didn’t go on for years or scar me for life, it’s remembered and never forgotten.
I’d worn the wrong blazer to school. We didn’t have to wear one but I’d wanted to and when I turned up for my first day of High School I was absolutely ridiculed. Some might have taken that blazer off and tried to fit in but me… Not so much. I wore it religiously for the whole year I was at that school teaming it with Doc Marten boots and a skirt shorter than short. I didn’t give one fig that no one else liked my style. I did and I stuck with it.
From that one simple item of clothing came a barrage of abuse which mainly stayed on the school bus and took off monumentally when I one day brushed my hair with an old fashioned brush on the way home. The girls from the back of the bus, the very same who hated my blazer, my skirt, my boots, my lipstick, eyeliner, hair, spots… Oh you name it, everything! Had a FIELD day. ‘URGH, look at that horrific brush’ one of them yelled and someone else tried to grab it off me. Days and days and days went on when they stopped shouting ‘Blazer girl’ and instead called me Barbie and asked me where my brush was.
I coped. I took it. They were older than me and I wasn’t going to try and fight back but one day the leader of the pack got off the bus at my stop right behind me with two of her friends and they chased me down the road until I reached my house. I was frightened then and I called my Grandma who came to look after me and tell me everything would be alright. My Mum and Dad went to the school… It was dealt with. It stopped happening and shortly after that I left that school to attend a different one in a completely unrelated decision.
And while I never forgot it didn’t really damage me. I’d had enough fight in me to remain who I was. I’d been ballsy enough to not let them change me. And I appreciate for others the same experiences might have left them worse off but for me I felt able to deal with it. That’s not to say some year’s later in my early twenties I didn’t take great delight when the following happened…
The ring leader from the bus days started seeing my husband’s best friend… (Norwich is very small!) Jonny and I had been together a few years by then and his best friend was also one of mine. But, when he asked if he could bring her to a party at our house I absolutely denied it. He spoke to her and then told me she wanted to apologise for the years before when she’d been a cow so I honestly said to him ‘That’s fine, no worries, but she ain’t coming in my house. She’s not my friend and I’m afraid she never will be’. So… He came to the party alone and ended up sleeping with someone else. Oh well… Karma’s a bitch as they say!
And that’s really my only true experience of the word bullying. Until now.
You see my Florence has been systematically bullied by two girls either alone or together since she started her school nearly a year ago. It’s been down to friendships as far as I can make out. Florence was new, she made friends with people who had other friends that didn’t seem to like a newcomer coming in and basically they’ve made her life hell because of it. Name calling, leaving her out, threatening her and now, most recently, physically hurting her.
Which literally breaks my heart. Florence is not like me, she can’t take these things on the chin and she just gets really upset. I don’t blame her! Florence always wants to organise people and games and things but if anyone else says ‘no, do it like this instead’ she’ll submit. She always wants to please and have everyone happy and this, I think, is what these bullies see as a weakness in her. And a reason to push her around!
I’ve been to the school. I’ve spoken to the Mothers (neither of whom were prepared to believe it of their little girls) and I’ve discussed strategies with Florence which we’ve tried but so far nothing has worked in getting them off her back.
- First I said kill them with kindness explaining that a reaction is what they want but if you’re overly lovely all the time they won’t know what to do with that.
- Then I said fight your corner. Say FINE, I DON’T CARE and tell them to leave you alone.
- And lately I’ve said ignore them and tell a teacher.
But as I said, nothing has worked.
One little girl moved classes and thankfully Florence doesn’t have to see her or deal with her often but the other little girl is in her face EVERY single day. She pushes her around, kicks her under the table, tells her she can’t play, refuses to let Florence have a voice when it comes to working together in drama… She basically just goes hell for leather to be unpleasant – WHAT a peach!
She invited Florence to her party then told her she would make sure everyone left her out if she attended. Naturally Florence didn’t want to go.
I told Florence to say to the girl: ‘You obviously don’t like me very much so it’s probably best I don’t come to your birthday’ but that just spurred her on more and she said ‘IF you DON’T come then I’ll get my brother and Mum to chase you’! – What?!
Florence told me this because she had to explain to me why she now suddenly wanted to go to the party she’d spent days telling me she didn’t want to attend. I explained to her that the Mum and brother absolutely wouldn’t chase her anywhere and if they did they’d better bloody run fast cause I’d be right behind them. This made her laugh and I emailed the Mum to explain kindly that the girls weren’t getting along so we thought it best she didn’t go but thanks, bla bla bla.
The Mum asked me why and I explained enough without going into TOO much detail of all the horrid things her daughter had said. I’d expected her to be alarmed. If it had been me I’d have flown over the roof with anger, probably cancelled her party and made her write an apology letter but this woman brushed it all off. I guess the apple never really falls too far from the tree and I’ve been told a LOT about this Mother and her own behaviour since – Go figure!
And since the party which Florence was SO much happier not having to go to? Well, sadly, she’s been hiding stuff from me and bottling it all up which I could visibly see. You know when you know there’s something wrong but they won’t say what… And trying to get it out of her has been dreadfully hard!
It’s been getting worse and worse, she can’t sleep, she doesn’t want to go to school and she’s begged me to take her out of drama class where this girl, in fact both of them unfortunately, get a real kick out of making her life a misery. She was up till midnight the night before this week’s class just staring at the ceiling unable to sleep and I kept asking her, cuddling her and saying that whatever it was she could tell me but she wouldn’t. Or couldn’t?
Not until she came out of class last night with scratches on her neck and saying she absolutely can’t go back to that class again. She said she told the teacher when the girl scratched her but the teacher just said ‘I’m tired of people crying’. So I went back in to have a word.
The teacher is very young, not very experienced I suspect, and said it was probably (probably) six of one and half a dozen of the other. Yet when I quizzed her on whether she’d seen Florence be unkind she said she hadn’t but that she had seen the other girl do things… Hmmm…
And I spoke to her class teacher this morning who obviously had to remain impartial.
She probably thinks I’m a ridiculously one sided Mum but I know I’m not being blind sided by love on this subject. Just as you know when there’s something wrong with your children you also know when they’re lying and I know that Florence isn’t. She doesn’t understand why people don’t want to be her friend. Never has on the odd occasion that it’s happened. And she simply hasn’t got the ‘OH FUCK OFF’ instinct that I always held wanting to just get to the bottom of why people don’t want to play with her when it happens.
I can see now what’s going on every day at school. Florence will be saying to this girl ‘But why? What have I done?’ and this girl is revelling in the fact she’s upset her and doing it all the more. And since I’ve told Florence to just tell a teacher this girl is seeing Florence do that and making up things that Florence’s hasn’t said about her to do the same leaving Florence in a situation where she feels completely baffled and like she can’t win no matter what she does.
And she can’t.
This girl wins hands down in certain respects. And that’s why she’s the bully. But as I’ve told Florence, this girl will be the loser in the end. Let her be the master of her own destruction because if she’s this much of a little B at 7, she’s gonna find life rather challenging and will always have something hanging over her like this.
Though it’s not my way to allow someone so horrid to ‘win’, For Florence on this occasion this has to be the way. So… No more drama class. I won’t send her into the firing line like that with teachers who haven’t got the time to REALLY see what’s happening and though I can’t physically make it better for her at school myself I have to trust the teachers will keep this girl away from mine (as I have asked this morning) during the day.
I’m not into getting them to be friends, not at this point. I wouldn’t want to be friends with this kid so I certainly don’t expect Florence to have to endure that and though she would, she absolutely would, I’m telling her to just give her a wide berth instead. Florence knows she has done nothing wrong, she knows I will protect her and I will make damn sure the school do too. But that’s it. Sometimes it’s easier just to walk away. I’m happy for this child who doesn’t belong to me to continue growing up behaving so badly. Good luck to her! I know mine will grow up decent and kind and caring just as she naturally is regardless of anything else and…
The satisfying moment will come…
One day, when this child who was already a bully at 7 and has continued to be the same arrogant little shit in her later life, will find her boyfriend has slept with someone else… Or the equivalent…
And it couldn’t happen to a nicer girl!