Monday, November 21, 2011

We Hear You Series #3: Don't Feed the Mean

In the beginning of my 5th grade year a few of my good friends, from the previous years, decided to turn on me. I had no idea why. It started with not talking to me and staying clear of me at recess and after school. Then the name calling began. I had very short hair for a girl, so they'd make rude comments or call me names based on that. They'd make fun of my clothes, too. I can remember just getting home as quickly as possible to share this with my mom and bawling my eyes out. I didn't understand why these girls had been my good friends before and now it seemed they hated me. I will never forget one girl that stood by my side through all of it. She never said anything, she was simply there with me, which was so comforting to me to know that one person liked me and at that same time was not bad-mouthing the girls that were being mean. I would run home as fast as I could to get away from that atmosphere every day. My mom would listen to me and then she would always say that sometimes when people make fun of others, it's because they have something they would like. In other words, my mom thought they were jealous of me. I just had to tell myself that over and over and never shout or comment mean things back. My mom made that really clear- no matter what, do not do what they're doing to me. Ignore the comments as hard as it was sometimes. No need to call names back at them, etc. I can also say that being involved in a sport at that time helped tremendously, as well. It was not associated with the school, so I had different friends there to hang out with and take out my frustration through the activity!

The bullying continued and led to prank calls that eventually were almost 24 hours a day. It got so bad, we intervened with the police to find out where the calls had been coming from. We did find out it was the same few girls. They had to apologize to me and my family. After that all happened, I remember being friends with these girls again. Even though I was hurt deeply by their comments, my one friend that was always there for me and my mom, helped me understand that some kids can be mean, but usually they have some issues of their own that they are trying to deal with. The best advice was not to feed in to their "mean-ness", but to ignore what they said to me and move on. Be the best me I could and surround myself with positive people and positive activities (sports, clubs).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Palm Tree by Scout

It was a cold, snowy day. Scout went to Florida with his step-mom Lynda, his aunt Shelby, and his Dad. He flew on an airplane for the first time, and thought it was awesome! But on that plane ride, Scout got an idea of getting a palm tree.

He arrived safely, went to the hotel, and fell asleep. The next day, his aunt Shelby and his Dad took him souvenir shopping. He looked and looked for a palm tree, but couldn't find one. Finally everyone gave up on him, but he didn't give up on himself.

They were on their way to the airport, when Scout thought his dream of buying a palm tree for home might not come true, but he never gave up.

Scout and his family were a hour early to the airport and to waste time, they walked through the stores. In one of those stores, Scout found a palm tree "in a box" for sale and bought it.

When people don't believe in you or are just mean to you, that's no reason to give up.

Scout never gave up even though his family doubted. Anything comes true when you are determined and never give up. Scout is happy to wake up every morning and look at his palm tree.

So do yourself a favor, and NEVER GIVE UP.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Proud Mommy Moment

As a parent and an advocate against bullying, I continuously communicate with my children about being kind to one another and if someone hurts them in school, then they need to tell their teacher or a trusted adult.

I have a very shy and introverted 7 year old little boy. Dylan has anxiety, an adjustment disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a touch of oppositional-defiant disorder. When things don't go his way, he gets angry and it's hard for him to listen to reason. He has been getting much better this year than last year, however and that is a good thing.

At the end of September, I received an email from his first grade teacher, saying that Dylan was bothering other boys in his class by poking them and shoving them. I just sat there, staring at the computer screen totally dumbfounded. I knew I had to have this conversation again, especially since I do nothing but talk about bullying on facebook and other areas. How could people take me seriously if my own son wasn't following what I have been preaching?

After school, his father and I sat him down and had a long talk about this issue. At first he denied it (of course), but I can usually tell when my children are trying to lie to me. He finally gave in, and told me that other people were picking on him, so he was poking them to get back at them.

This is where I went through the list of what he needs to do, in order to take care of the situation, without being a bully himself. He tried to rebuttle by telling me that he's not allowed to tattle (something his father and I can't stand when it's the petty stuff like "He's looking at me!"). I explained to him that tattling and telling are two different things, and it's ok to tell his teacher that someone is picking on him. I explained that if he were to take care of the problem by being a bully back, then he would get into trouble as well, and that is not acceptable. I explained again about kindness and learning to accept others, even if we do not necessarily like them. He just kept nodding and was getting irritated with me, and I know my son well enough to know that when he starts to get irritated, he starts to shut down.

Just recently, we had our first parent/teacher conference. I was nervous about going because of this situation, but I needed to know what was going on since that incident. I asked her how he was doing, and she smiled and said that she didn't know what I had said to him, but that his entire attitude had changed. She said that he now stands up for himself, and if someone picks on him, he will FIRST tell them to please stop and that he doesn't like what they are doing (I didn't actually go over that part with him, but he picked it up on his own!). She said if they don't listen to him, then he will go straight to her and tell her what is going on, and then he lets it go.

Can we say HOORAY??!!! I am so incredibly proud of him!! I almost cried during the conference!! After the conference, I went home and immediately picked him up into this huge bear hug and told him how proud of him I was. I asked him to please keep it up, and to always stand up for himself in an appropriate way. Dylan apparently wasn't shutting down on me. He was listening in his own way, and he wasn't really irritated with me. He was processing the information given to him, and I should have known better to think he had tuned me out. We ask our children to listen to us...and we should listen to them in return.

Communication is the key for our children to be successful. Open up the dialogue and discuss the important issues with them. Trust me, they ARE listening.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Open Letter to My Children

I love each of you in ways indescribable by me.

I want you to grow up knowing that you are loved.

I want you to grow up knowing that no matter what I am here for you.

I want you to grow up being able to be whatever you want to be.

I want you to grow up being whoever you want to be.

I want you to grow up knowing there are always options.

I want you to grow up in a world filled with random acts of kindness.

I want you to grow up being an upstander.

I want you to grow up being strong young women and men who advocate for those in need.

I want you to grow up in a world without bullying.

I want you to grow up.


Your mom

Monday, November 7, 2011

We Hear You Series #2: Commenting Up! (Speaking up through Facebook comments)

From Barb:

This is why I continue to post for ABC. Some people just have no clue.
I just want to share a conversation that took place on my wall yesterday. I'm still shocked at BLANKS comments. His name is blocked to protect him from the bullying. I'm gonna tell him the next time we meet, even though I'll always love him, my respect for him is gone. I'm very disappointed that this conversation even took place, and am still awaiting for BLANK to apologize.

Barb Soh shared a link.
"Please Remember" - A Tribute to Those Lost to Bullycide
Like · · Share · Yesterday at 10:47

1 share
BLANK SAID: I say man up. We all got picked on as kids.......why is everyone treating this as a new trend. Its a life leasson that has to be learened. Why do we coddle children these days
Yesterday at 10:56 · Like

Barb Soh: because children these days are horrible. my daughter was cyberbullied and it was horrible. no child should feel so low and degraded as children these days make them feel. you'll understand when you're a parent.
Yesterday at 11:00 · Like

BLANK SAID: I guess I see ur point.....but I always took it as a life lesson that makes u stronger. It may not have cyber bullying but it was bullying. It makes u stronger and realize how to deal with people.
Yesterday at 11:03 · Like

OUTRAGED #1 SAID:  How sad that you should say "man up". it's exactly this kind of attitude that teaches children (who eventually become adults) that it is ok to treat other people like shit and make them feel worthless. Remember... some kids may not have parents that care either, maybe they don't have anyone to help them stand up for themselves... regardless of what their situation is at home it IS NOT just part of life. We need to be nicer to each other, as children AND adults. and there is quite a difference between coddling a child and raising them to stand up for what's right. I for one have not raised my child or taught my child that it ok to harass people, call them names, spread rumors etc. and if more parents and teachers did the same maybe the world wouldn't be such a harsh place to live in.
Yesterday at 11:34 · Like

Barb Soh: ok BLANK. you know i love you but let me tell you a couple of stories. when i had my nervous breakdown and couldn't force myself out of my bed for 7 months out of the last year my sister screamed at me, told me to pull up my big girl pants, took my daughter away from me and told me to get over it. what the hell was she thinkin? had i been able to do that don't ya think i woulda? to this day, she has my daughter legally and there ain't a damn thing i can do about it but cry because being deemed mentally insane has taken away my rights as a parent. she is still saying the same sort of things to me, hurting me more every time i talk to her, keeping my depression and anxiety at an all time high. yes, i do see myself as worthless and have on many occasions considered suicide because of her constant control over my mental status. but i know that's out of the question because of my daughter.
Yesterday at 12:13 · Like

Barb Soh: now lets move on to my 33 year old gay son. how do you think his childhood was? he would get bullied at school and then come home to his physically abusive step father who took away my ability to protect myself let alone my sons. on his school trip to washington dc, nobody wanted to room with him, and those finally assigned to do so made his trip a living hell. then he went on to college. on the first day in the dorms, students were allowed to put white boards on their doors for friends to leave messages if he wasn't in his room. that first message was not from a friend. it said "faggots must die". i made it to the university of toledo in hour and a half from mentor to protect the rights of my son. the student was caught and expelled, but that will never change what was to be my sons wonderful first day of college.
Yesterday at 12:21 · Like

Barb Soh: now on to my 25 year old son with tourettes syndrome. he made noises, his eyes blinked constantly, he would flick his fingers and he was the butt of most jokes during his school years. he too came home to that father, who used to make fun of him also. what kind of life is it for a child or adult who gets bullied. i can tell you all too well, but just the thought of what my kids went through is hopefully enough to help you see it from the other side of the coin.
Yesterday at 12:25 · Like

OUTRAGED #2 SAID:  I dont know you BLANK but shame on you