Honestly, I have never seen a cat chase down a salmon or a chicken.
While touring our high school on Saturday, we came across an anti-bullying poster that solemnly stated "Don't Bully". Or something to that effectively effective effect. I laughed and made some sort of wisecrack that it was a tragedy that it had not been hanging back in my day. I noted that of course, my own bullies would have read that poster and then left me alone. Of course! Right?
Folks. Please tell me I was not the only one to be bullied in school.
In grade school, a girl named Viola used to corner me in the bathroom and on the bus. I was not overly terrified, but as you can imagine, I was not entirely happy with the situation, either (as you might imagine.) About 6 months ago, a "Viola" friended me on Facebook and fortunately, the gracious buffer of time and space meant that my reaction was a wry one. Like, what? My grade school bully found me on Facebook so she could now cyber-bully me? Fortunately, in this case, it turned out to be a different, non-bullyesque Viola from my other school. A different Viola who was and still is quite sweet (I was excited to see her and her adorable daughter this past weekend.)
In high school, my bullying experience was quite different and less innocent. For months, I was tormented by two girls who would not just leave me the fuck alone. I don't recall exactly what spurred it, I am not even sure what I could have done to prevent it (like, what? Stop using 3 and 4 syllable words? Stop reading books? Stop getting good grades? Stop knowing answers? Things that garnered me so much abuse in my school days.) I was not an aggressive type, so I can guarantee I had not done anything too onerous to deserve this.
I have repressed most of my memories of those two girls. But what I cannot repress is this:
The shame of not being able to protect myself or to even stand up for myself. Something I still struggle with to this very day. The shame of feeling embarrassed that somehow I had gotten myself into this bad situation from which I could not extricate myself. The shame of feeling so fucking alone because I did not tell anyone. My friends.... my parents.... even a teacher.
What the hell was wrong with me that I did not even seek help?
Being in my high school this weekend brought back those memories of when those two girls would confront me - how sick to my stomach and weak in my knees I would feel afterward. How my hands would shake.
It is all find and dandy that I am an adult now and truthfully, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever knowing that both girls ended up in less than ideal circumstances. As you can imagine, bullies are unhappy folks to begin with and both of those girls had horrible lives in their homes.
I am not only a mature (somewhat) adult, but I am now a parent. And I have to process this as such.
And I already find myself doing things like marking Arun's things for school in black or red marker - not the convenient pink marker that always seems to make its way to the top of the Sharpie heap. And today, Arun wants to take his beloved toy puppy named Sparky and I have to resist the temptation to urge him to take a dinosaur or a train instead. Yes. I already think of these things because I know how it feels to be picked on in school. Having your greatest strengths demeaned and devalued has a belittling effect on your self-esteem that is difficult to shake.
However. What is my deepest fear for my children when it comes to these schoolyard squabbles?
Is that they will not tell me.