Tonight I read a discussion about where to send your kids to school, or whether to homeschool them. Homeschool? Interesting. I'd never even considered it until now, I just assumed Butterfly would go to mainstream school.
I got to thinking about my own school experience, and whether it was good or bad. Of course there were elements of both. At first I remembered all the good times. Then I remembered... I was bullied so badly in primary that I changed schools. Its odd that didn't occur to me at first...
I don't really like admitting that, because I feel that people might think I am socially retarded or weak or something. Not so. It is probably my strength that put me in the firing line...
In grade five I was one of the most popular girls in my group. I used to make up rude lyrics to the hymns at assembly, so everyone wanted to sit next to me for a laugh. I had a great group of friends and even a little boyfriend (you know, by boyfriend I mean someone who chased me around when we played bullrush!)
Then grade six happened. My three best friends left the school, and our group became pretty small. We ended up merging with what would become the "cool" group. I had some good friends, but the most popular girls could be nasty. Never to me, but to others. One day they tried to put one girl's hands in bird poo, because that would be really funny and everything. I snapped. I yelled at them, told them they weren't funny, just mean. I walked off with the poor victim and into my nightmare!
From that point on, I was public enemy number one. I couldn't answer a question in class without them mocking me. If I walked past they'd all start laughing. At touch football, they wouldn't touch, they'd hit. My "boyfriend" decided he didn't like me anymore. You know, all very devastating to an 11 year old. I would come home crying every day. My Mum tried to get the school to do something but they didn't. Kids are crafty, and are smart enough not to do anything in front of teachers. My Dad was deathly ill with the flu and Mum couldn't cope, so she moved me. Only after I had enrolled at another school did the principal take action. There was traumatising meetings in her office, where I was forced to try to explain my situation in front of my tormenters. It turns out the worst offenders were suspended and very nearly expelled.
One of the worst offenders was one of my former best friends. When the same girls were nasty to her... I was her shoulder to cry on. When they turned on me... she joined in. Lovely. She is the only one of them who still harbours a grudge (as far as I know)... she went to highschool with my cousin and liked to tell him how much she hated me, and how I almost got her expelled. Say WHAT? Way to take responsibility. I have recurring dreams where I befriend her again, is annoying. Every time I have the dream, I think, "Finally this isn't a DREAM! I can put this behind me", then I wake up. LAME.
One of the other girls rang me years later to apologise. Another I ran into at a party and there were no hard feelings. I don't harbour negativity towards any of them. They were 11 at the time, I'm sure they've matured since then! I do, however, still dislike that principal immensely, she failed me big time.
So how do I feel about the experience? Not sure. It is part of my story, of who I am today. If it didn't happen I wouldn't have been to the other school, where I had some great times. However I would not like Butterfly to experience it. How do you protect your kids from bullys? I was a popular, confident child and it happened to me. Remember your parents saying, "Just ignore it" or "They're just jealous". Not that they aren't right, but I don't remember that helping much.
On a tangent... we had this guy come to our highschool to talk to us about bullying. He had no legs, he got around on a skateboard. He told horror stories about him having his toes cut off during an exam (when he had legs he couldn't feel them) and being stuffed in a rubbish bin that was then set alight. REALLY heavy stuff. At the end he asked the school captains to stand up, and asked our female leader if she saw much bullying at the school. She said no. Then he ripped into her!! Asked everyone who had ever been bullied to raise their hands (which most of us did), and asked what kind of school captain she was to be so out of touch. He was really mean to her!
I lost respect for him at that point. She was wrong, bullying happened daily, but after his shocking tales of woe, I'd have said no too! No one had physical abuse like what he described. So in the heat of the moment I wouldn't have counted name calling bullying either (in comparison). Most principals don't have a grasp on bullying so to target a 17 year old girl was just nasty. She nearly cried. In his quest to prove a point he ended up being the bully! Not cool...
What were your experiences of bullying at school? Is ANYONE lucky enough to come out completely unscathed?