June 18, 2019 by phicks2012
Back then bullies were no less noxious and repellent, but at least they pretty much had to do it face to face rather than hiding behind on-line pseudonyms and bogus accounts and doing it from a cowardly distance.
I was bullied for six years, starting in the fourth grade and extending through the ninth. My attackers were both individuals and groups of like-minded tormentors who drew courage from running in craven packs of “mean girls” and “vicious boys”.
Physically, I was knocked down in hallways, shoved face-first into water fountains, punched, and tripped, and hit with hurled objects. I had items stolen from my desk — including library books that I would then have to pay for — items shoved off of cafeteria tables, and names called, and every single time I stood up for myself I got punished and they did not. The person who actually “starts” something is never caught, right? That seems to be the way it goes, even now. Today they’d probably have shifted to social media and done their best to make my life an even WORSE living hell.
My mother told me “Just ignore them”. That was her best advice, and maybe she actually thought that would work. It did not.
My father told me never to “start” trouble, but that it was okay to “finish” it. See above for just how well THAT worked out.
Further, only one of my supposed friends ever REALLY stood up for me or had my back — at least that I recall. I suppose the others didn’t want to paint a target on themselves, but it would have been nice if just ONCE one of them had been there for me. Funny thing about that.
My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Sims did see what was happening, and actually complained about it to the principal at the time, but that didn’t stop it. I’m still grateful to her for trying though, because she’s pretty much the only one who did.
The kids had come after me at least partly because my family was well-off. We weren’t RICH. We weren’t members of the country club, we didn’t winter in St. Tropez, and I never had everything I wanted. In fact, if I wanted something for Christmas or my birthday I had to specify a name brand or I would receive some outlaw brand that (once it went bad, which it always did very quickly) could never be repaired. Also, in fact, there were people who looked DOWN on me because we WEREN’T members of any social clubs or because I wasn’t stylish enough for them.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, I guess.
Still, I was a target — though my brother and male cousins never were. I heard that one of my female cousin was bullied, but her sister (herself a “mean girl”), wasn’t affected, so I guess the bullies only went for those of us perceived as vulnerable. Cowards are like that.
There was also the fact that I was smart — not a genius, but I was in what today would probably be termed “gifted” classes, and didn’t have to study all that hard in the subjects I liked. Some people didn’t like that either, because it just wasn’t fair, right?
Now one of the things my mother had occasionally threatened me with growing up was being shipped off to “boarding school” if I didn’t behave. At least it was supposed to be a threat, but when my parents actually decided to send me away to school for the tenth grade I was EXULTANT! And guess what. The bullying stopped pretty much instantly. My new schoolmates simply had no reason to single me out for abuse.
The only clique I ever had a problem with after going away to school was a group of four mean girls who didn’t (for some reason unclear to me) like my roommate Pam — Shug (pronounced “Shoog”, like short for “Sugar”) and her cronies, Jane, Janie, and Shelly. But, having endured the bullying thing previously, when Shug shoved me through a hedge one icy morning and I wound up needing stitches in my leg, I was not about to let it go. Never again!
I told the dean and she read that girl the riot act, warning her that if she ever did such a thing again she would be expelled. Guess what! I never had another problem with her or with any of her friends, because they knew the dean meant business and because their parents probably wouldn’t have been thrilled with them if they’d been shipped home.
Years later a nut-job decided to blame me for his divorce because they were at my home when his wife demanded one. He spread some vicious and totally baseless rumors that basically destroyed my business, and I have no doubt that a lower level of Hell is currently preparing a cozy place for him. If social media had existed then, I hate to think what sort of even wider-spread chaos he might have created, because people do tend to believe scurrilous rumor over boring fact. They just do.
But bullying is bullying, and I have a powerful motivation to detest it, and to react negatively to those who practice it — and to remember.
People, being a bully is not cool, and it does not make you strong. Standing up for a friend does.