Bullying? Stop It!

At the beginning of this school year, my first as a mother of a child in school, I experienced for the first time the unthinkable task of comforting a child who has felt rejected.

Jade came home from school that day feeling more confused than sad.  When I asked her if she was making new friends in her class (which you may recall I realized quickly was absolutely the wrong question) she shared a playground story with me.

The girls (you remember which ones) were playing nicely when Jade approached them and asked if she could play too.  They exchanged looks, one whispered to the others, and then they all ran away from her laughing.

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Jade??  She is gorgeous!  She’s funny, talented, and SO kind.  Not that it should matter what she is or isn’t at their age.  So why were these FIVE-YEAR-OLDS treating her like she had the plague?

I’m volunteering in Jade’s class once a week where I work with a small group on reading skills.  Jade is 1 of 6 kids in her group, and the only girl.  She has found her place among the boys, probably because she has 3 younger brothers.  She’s part of their clubs, their inside jokes, and they often fight to sit next to her.  It’s a different story among the boys.

There’s a Club (gang maybe?) that one of them has invented, and although its a “boys only” club, he’s invited Jade to be a part of it.  And even more surprisingly, he has named his testosterone-driven group “The Mimi’s”.

A Mimi looks (or at least did a few weeks ago) like a ball on a stick with a triangle at the bottom.  It has its own store where it sells goods to only certain other Mimi’s.  Its exclusivity at its finest.

One day while I was in their class, one of the boys in their reading group (who is NOT a Mimi) drew a picture.  He showed it to the gang leader and said, “Look, its a Mimi!”.  I will vouch for this young boy:  I have seen many Mimi’s drawn over the course of the year, and he was spot on.  However, the leader said, “That is not a Mimi.  This is a Mimi”.  He proceeded to draw an entirely different creature altogether, showed it to the other boy, rolled his eyes, and turned away.

Who taught them to act this way?  Did they see it on television?  Or are they genuinely just looking out for their own well-being, which at this age only means having fun even if its at the expense of someone else?  It always has at least a little to do with acceptance.

Regardless of the reason, this is unacceptable.  And if they act this way as kindergartners how can things possibly get better from here?  The answer is: they can’t.  Which is why bullying is more prominent than ever, especially with the added ease and convenience of cyber-bullying.

After watching the video that I’m sharing below I was thinking about experiences that I’ve had where I witnessed bullying taking place.  When I think about my involvement with bullying in public school, 3 specific kids come to mind.  I was never the originator, but I also never said anything to prevent it.  Observing and not speaking up made me just as guilty as the culprits.

A note about Facebook:  I don’t have any regrets about no longer using it, but I will admit that for me FB was a good way to try to mend relationships (or lack of) that had weighed heavily on me.  I have been in contact with one of the bully-victims in particular, and it amazes me how differently I see her now that I don’t have the anxiety of what people will think of me if I talk to her.  She’s so thoughtful, always congratulating me on life-changing events and thanking me when I do the same for her.  She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and I feel so grateful that she made it through that stage of her life and moved on to find happiness and love.  Not every target of bullying is so lucky.

Today being Sunday, I’m feeling a lot of guilt for skipping church, so I’m also thinking a lot about what Christ had to go through for me.  Clearly the word “bullied” is an understatement in this case.   But I can’t imagine that very many of those who contributed ultimately to the murder of their Savior did so willingly.  Many of them must have felt very threatened, physically or even socially, about what would happen to them if they didn’t support the crucifixion of who will forever be considered, by most, to be the most important man in the history of time.  Either that or they had been brainwashed into thinking that this man wasn’t worthy of the respect and kindness that everyone else deserved.  Its hard to believe that people could be so cruel, and not a single person today would believe themselves capable of such cruelty.

So then why is it okay to treat people so thoughtlessly now on a seemingly lesser scale?

I wish I could say that starting today I will be the one who institutes the biggest change the world has ever seen; one that will spread so quickly that I will never have to worry that my kids will be the subject of these senseless acts.  Unfortunately, I believe the world is only becoming more accepting of evil, so even if every parent on earth taught their children to be kind to others it still won’t protect them completely from how others could possibly treat them.

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The single most important thing we can do as parents to combat the effects of bullying is to show our children love at home.  Maybe that’s why we have a large family; so, if they’re as lucky as Aaron and I have been with our own siblings, my kids will always have a built in support system.

***Spoiler alert:

This video does end happily!

STOP BULLYING!

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The Final Curtain Call

I’ve been in a very long relationship.  25 years to be exact.  When it was new, and even 15 years after it began, it was exciting and full of adventures.  It wasn’t without difficulty; no relationship is.  But it defined me, both the good and bad.  I knew it was important.  Life changing.  Lasting.

About 8 years ago things changed.  Suddenly I was putting in much more than I was getting out of it.  I was holding on for dear life as I reflected on the memories, thinking every day that things could be like they used to.  I would spend hours that I didn’t have planning how I was going to make this part of me as important as it was in the beginning.  Not only important for ME, but I needed everyone else to see how important this was.  How RIGHT for each other we were.  I had a distinct, tear-filled moment when I said out loud for the first time that this needed to end.  But of course that wasn’t the end.

Before I get too much further let me clarify that the relationship I’m talking about is my relationship with dance.

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This might seem a very bizarre comparison to almost everyone who may read this.  But to me, my broken relationship with dance is as heartbreaking as any human relationship that has ever ended.

How many of you have experienced finally realizing that a love you’ve been holding on to for so long is just destined for destruction?  How much time did you waste trying to get something back that was clearly over?  I know this is how I felt with my first love (person-to-person love).  I literally held on to this relationship for nearly 6 years and every time I felt it slipping away I would get out the pictures, write an email, make a phone call, anything to remind myself, and him, that the connection we’d had had been real, and possibly could be real again one day.  Even if it meant we were just close friends.

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It might be hard to believe, but I think my relationship with dance runs as deeply and passionately as almost any relationship I have ever had, or will ever have, in my lifetime.  And I’m realizing now, slowly over these last years, that dance and I are no longer “in a relationship”.  I’ve spent 8 years maintaining a friendship that is never going anywhere.  As with other REAL relationships, I’ve told myself that its ok to be “just friends”.  And maybe for some this works out.  I’ve heard people talk even about ex-husbands with whom they have managed to stay friends.  Today I’m thinking that I just need to rip the bandaid off and cut ties for good.  I LOVE it to much to be just friends.  Its too painful for me.

Last week after returning home from a Zumba class (taught by someone other than myself) I received an message from the instructor (who I had a previous agreement with that neither of us would have to pay for each other’s classes) asking if I could start giving him some money for his classes.  Classes that I had been appearing as a “guest instructor” in since my own leave from teaching.  I responded to him that I’d be happy to pay, and that in fact he did not need to have me teach in his class any longer.  This was my dramatic-girl way of being spiteful.  Fine, if you want me to pay, then you don’t get to enjoy the pleasure and professionalism of my teaching (Apparently I wasn’t actually “happy to pay”).  I returned to class yesterday, having forgotten to bring any cash, and spent the whole time rationalizing inside myself why I SHOULDN’T have to pay for this class.  I can dance and teach every bit as good or better!  I should be getting PAID for this, not paying.  I felt sick inside and ended up just leaving early because I couldn’t handle the feeling any longer.

Have you ever tried hanging out with an ex after a breakup while he’s with his new girlfriend?  This felt similar.

I believe my initial reason for not just letting go once I started having children was just in case an opportunity for a career opened up for me once my childbearing years had ended, I’d still be capable of dancing–If you’ve ever been able to do the splits, you know how quickly you lose this ability if you don’t do it every day–I also needed my foot in the door just enough so that when people thought “I need a ballet teacher for my daughter” I would be the first person they’d come to.

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Now here is my dilemma: All I have EVER done, since I was 5 years old, was dance.  Dance classes, performances, teaching, choreographing.  That’s it.  At least its all I’ve ever done that I felt like I couldn’t live without.  I recently made a comment on Facebook stating that I was bored and needed a new hobby, to which I received MANY responses, some with suggestions like “How about knitting?”, but most of which said something sounding like “How can you be BORED?! You have 4 children!”  So I guess I should clarify.

I’m not Bored.  I’m lonely.

I have the post-breakup blues.  I need something to fill the void that was left when I stopped being on stage.  And I assume that, just like an actual breakup, eventually you “meet someone new” and forget why you worked so hard to hold on to the past.  And also like an actual breakup, it takes completely letting go to be able to be on the market again.  Essentially this is why I started this blog in the first place, and named it as such.

The Girl I Mean To Be.

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So who am I now?  Without dance.  I’m on the market for a new me.

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