Can someone say therapy?

I’m writing the night before because I told my mom and grandma that I would help make some Polish cookies that I have no idea how to spell, but as you need many hands to make it reasonable to actually bake, I, of course, volunteered.  When I said Tuesday afternoon, I meant like 3pm, after naptime, after blogging time.  When I said Tuesday afternoon, my mom and grandma assumed 1pm or so when the boys were napping at my parents house, so that I would come over for lunch, put the boys down, and hang out with my dad while my mom plays computer games.  Super.

I was going to write a post about the different schools we’re looking at and write the pros and cons.  Then I realized you might not understand the horror that is for me to send my child to a private school, or to the private school I went to.  So I felt I should explain myself.  Just so we get this straight, I feel like I had to go through the fire to become the ceramic piece I am today.  But fire is fire, and it sucks to be in there.

First off, I don’t remember much from grades three to sixth.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “Fae, that was a long time ago.”  Well, by the time I was in high school I couldn’t remember them.  I could remember pre-kindergarten up to third grade with clarity, but I had few memories of those years, which makes me think I blocked it all out.

Fourth grade was the year my best friend of three years left me for the popular group, and I remember my mom pushing me to join.  I remember trying by going through with a dare of kissing a boy.  It just gave them more ammunition to make fun of me.

I got a new best friend, but she left before junior high.  She didn’t even tell me she was leaving.  Everyone else knew but me.  I heard it from my mom who accidently heard it from another mother.  I cried for hours.  When I asked my friend, she shrugged it off and spent the next few months making fun of me like the popular girls.

During this time I had a bully.  Yup.  Do you know how rare it is to have an older female bully?  Girls tease in packs, and usually they don’t keep tormenting a younger girl.  But I was lucky.  Unfortunately so was the girl.  She was the niece of one of the other teachers, so it was always my word against hers.  She always won.

During these years, if I stepped out of line, danced to a different tune, the popular girls would ignore me, setting the example.  After a few days of being alone, I would cave and march to their drum, killing the last friendships I had.  Those friendships were with two boys.  Because they were boys, they weren’t swayed by the female orders, so I was shunned into cutting off my own allies.  I’m not proud of that, but I did go to high school with one of the boys and was able to make amends.

In sixth grade with all the bullying and teasing, I came home crying most days.  My mom went again to the teacher.  I remember the teacher telling me how she was teased as a girl.  As though that was to make me feel better.  As though that was a reason to let the kids do it.  As though that was a justification.  I was also told boys only tease girls they like.  No.  Boys that tease are mean snots who should be taught manners.

I hated my life.  School was hard for me as I struggled to teach myself to learn.  Sports were hard for me as I didn’t have natural talent but tried any ways.  Popularity was elusive because I was poor.  In this vain, I would like to point out that the reason uniforms are good is because they make the playing field equal, disguising the poor kids and the rich kids is BS.  Kids notice shoes, jewelry, hairstyle.  Kids find ways to make some one the loser.

Seventh grade my life changed.  I remember very well.  First off they divided the class of thirty-two into two classes for the harder subjects of math, science, and grammar.  For the other four classes we were one large class.  To divide us, they took out math scores and divided the class in half.  I missed the other class by two points.  My mom was pissed.  She went in charging into the office to ask what kind of moron isn’t up to date on child psychology to do a stupid move like that, making the kids feel stupid, making the math teacher think they were stupid.  The powers to be assured my mom the class was going to be taught the same.  My mom was not satisfied with that answer until she talked to the new teacher, who promised her he would teach them the same.  And the crazy thing was he taught like a college professor, and this right-brained, word-slanted kid GOT IT.  I actually understood math for the first time ever.  I got it enough to actually tutor some other kids.

In the beginning of the school year I was in the bathroom with a friend before a volleyball game.  My bully was there hair spraying her bangs even higher for the game.  When she noticed some dry hairspray clogging the nozzle, she let out an “eww” and wiped it on my friend’s shirt.  She apologized to the girl and said she thought the girl was me.  She started to come closer with the spray bottle.  I pushed her twice at the shoulders, sending her into the paper towel dispenser.  For a second I was amazed that I did that and that the move my father taught me actually worked.  The second wore off as I saw her glare at me.  I grabbed my friend’s hand, dragging her behind me as I ran back to the courts to where the grownups were.  I didn’t want to die.  My bully never bothered me again.

This was the year I gained more teasers.  A boy, who was held back, took special delight on tormenting me about my braces.  But I studied the source, thinking this kid is Ugly.  He was pasty white, overweight, and didn’t brush his braces so there was crud all over them.  Then he was not the brightest penny in the fountain.  My problem was he sat next to me, where he would whisper insults at me during class.

Several months into the year, the girls started shaving their legs, and it scared the crap out of me.  One of the girls showed us a long hideous cut on her leg where, she explained, she tested the razor to see if it was dull.  As an adult, I know better, but as a kid who didn’t know a thing, I was freaked out and disgusted.  It wasn’t long until the boys noticed I wasn’t shaving.  They pounced.  When the girls found out about the boys teasing me, they pounced.  I was miserable.

Then one day a boy, that I had known since I was four years old, handed me a razor and told me to go shave my legs in the bathroom.  I handed it back, patted his cheek and told him to go first.

The teasing intensified.  A few weeks later, he handed the razor to me again.  I just handed it back.  When I got home, I cried and cried.  My mom got the story from me and was on the phone, demanding the principal.

Now that I’m older I realized that if he hadn’t brought the razor to school, no one would have done a thing.  Because he brought it to school, he brought a weapon.  The idiot still had it in his backpack the next day.  But my mom demanded justice.  I had been tormented long enough.  I had to submit a list of my tormentors.  My mom was in the principal’s office for an hour. 

Finally the principal called me in, and after she heard me out, she called in the boys.  The boys, who weren’t part of the razor joke, were warned and forced to give an apology.  No detention.  Though I received detention if I talked in mass.  The other boys were forced to call their mothers, mothers who had known me since I was four or six years old.  THOSE mothers were righteously pissed.  While those boys had to write an apology saying they would never do it again and received detention, their mothers forced them to call me and apologize as well as tell my mother how sorry they were.  I remember one mother telling my mom that her son was stupid with hormones and she didn’t know what got into him, and then the mother threw The Look at the boy, who cowered.

Then it dawned on me.  These were mean boys.  These were mean girls.  Why the heck (because I didn’t cuss when I was a good Catholic school girl) did I want to be their friends?  They could go to hell.  So I went to school not caring.

Oh, and they tried to make me care.  The popular girls gave the order to ignore me.  After the first lunch where no one said a word to me, I starting bringing a book.  For two weeks, no one said a damn word to me.  F- them.  Finally one of the girls disobeyed the order.  As she was new, she was not ruled by the absolute authority.  She was slightly outcasted because she was not just Hispanic, she was Greek and Japaneese.  She was slightly outcasted because it was assumed she had no money, she had a strange name, and no one had seen her father.  It turned out she was the richest kid in my class (not the school, my brother was best friends with the heir to the third richest man in Mexico.  Weird)  because her father was a specialist food taster in Japan, where it turns out they take their marketing and food very seriously.  And this girl spent her summers in Greece with her grandparents.  Um, go figure.  This girl liked me because I made her laugh.  The ice thawed a bit.

My eighth grade year I didn’t care.  My mom had tutored me in algebra because we got a new math teacher mid-year because the old one was fired because all the kids blamed him for their failure though they were the ones not doing their homework.  This new teacher took two days to teach my “slow” class a concept versus the one day the “smart” class did.  In eighth grade I was one of eight kids able to do the algebra that was expected.  I was put in the smart math group. Oh and the best friend who dumped me in fourth grade, well, she was one of those eight, but she declined it so she didn’t look too smart for the popular girls.  I couldn’t care less about my peers.  F- them.  I told my mother if she was going to send me to the Catholic high school with the rest of them, then I would get myself expelled within the first week.  I didn’t know what I would do, but I would do it.  If I couldn’t get expelled, I told her, I would commit suicide then spend anymore school years with those evil kids.  She let me go to public school as long as I stayed in Honors English.  Fine.

While all the other kids that I would join a gang or do drugs or screw a bunch of guys, I only thought nothing can be worse than the hell I just survived.  After the first week, braving the fights only to gain the respect of the kids who tried to fight me and finding my own nitch, I was ok.  Though I did hear some of those kids DID do drugs and DID screw a bunch of guys.

The moral of the story?  Well, first off I know why those boys did what they did at Columbine.  I could have done it too, if I was forced to stay with my tormentors.  The second, the principal that was there when I was a kid is there now.  I didn’t see anything on bullying policy like in the other two schools.  I do know Columbine changed a lot of minds about how to deal with bullies and teasing, but I don’t want my kids to go through what I did.  I don’t know why I was singled out; I just know that I was.  I also know as boys they have a better shot than a girl.  Boys aren’t harassed as much, especially if they play sports, but I don’t want to test the theory. 

So while I try to make up my mind, I can’t seem to shake the ghosts of the past.  I think I would kill the little punk that hurts my kid.

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9 Responses to “Can someone say therapy?”

  1. KathyB! Says:

    You and I are on the same track this week. I don’t know if you read my post from last Friday, but we’re in exactly the same spot — my kids are just a little older 🙂

    Do you feel better for writing it all out like this? I only talked about one small moment, but I felt relief when I shot it into the blogosphere.

    Warm fuzzy hugs to you faemom. I’m glad you made it through the fire. You came out beautifully.

  2. ck Says:

    My parents put me and my brother in Catholic elementary school because they were afraid of the local public school. And, like you, it was an awful experience. But I remember deciding, while in HS, that I’d rather look back and lament my childhood school experience (that I lived through somehow) than look back and think that my life peaked in HS.

    And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

    And I’m betting so have you.

    Our kids will make it. Sure things are different, sure things are probably scarier. But I think we just have to be careful not to make big decisions, like education, based on fear. I say this now, of course…but we’ll see how I do later.

  3. Erik Says:

    First, let me say that I’m terribly sorry for what you endured growing up. Stuff like that is something no kid growing up should have to go through.

    Second, I hate to the be the burster of bubbles, but your hopes for your boys avoiding teasing aren’t as clear cut as you might hope. As a very successfully athletic boy/guy growing up, I was the subject of some merciless teasing. My school life was actually really good, but the soccer teams I played for outside of school were quite a different story. For a good four or five years, I was the team whipping boy and the primary target for a vast majority of the teasing that went on. I was able to use my school life as an escape from the unhappiness of my soccer team, but the environment on my team had a serious negative impact on my self-confidence related to, arguably, the most important thing to me.

    In the long run, I feel like I came out of it a stronger person, and though I definitely don’t look back with fondness, I don’t hold any bitterness or grudges about the situation.

    I’m only bringing this up to help you be aware that, though the teasing will probably be different, the chance for it to occur is still there. Its likely that if your kids are successful athletes they will be fine in terms of school, but the microcosm of a sports team has a whole different dynamic of a pecking order that can have just as negative of an impact on them growing up as school or other social settings.

  4. starviego Says:

    You are still being lied to about Columbine. Big time. If you want to find out what really happened at Columbine I suggest you read what the eyewitnesses had to say:…

  5. Gibby Says:

    Oh, Fae.
    Those people stink.

    But what I am learning is that bullies are everywhere. Poonch was bullied a little last year, but luckily that girl left. Hubs and I breathed a sigh of relief, but now there is a different girl who has figured out how to maneuver Poonch. It is so frustrating and heartbreaking when it happens to your kids. It’s worse than when it happened to ourselves. We have decided that the only thing we can do is to continue to stay on top of things, get to know the parents of all of Poonch’s friends, and try to give her the self-confidence and strength to be her own person.

    Of course, easier said than done.

    Your boys will be OK. Really, they will.

  6. Ink Says:

    Aw, Fae. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I don’t. I do, however, admire you for keeping it together in such a yucky situation.

  7. insider53 Says:

    I wasn’t bullied at school because I was the invisible girl. We moved so much I never got settled in enough to make friends. I considered myself lucky, it was lonely but it could have been so much worse. Kids can be the cruelest when no one puts limits on their behavior or holds them accountable.

  8. mediocreperfectionist Says:

    Wow. Just… wow. I’m impressed at how mature you were, trying to figure out your tormentor’s motivation. I really hope you are right about it being easier on boys. I hope so, but I’m not sure it will be. I read once that our culture lacks any formal coming of age ritual, which puts our guys at risk for general “hazing” throughout their adolescence and never knowing when or where it’s coming from. With that said, Girls are much more vicious, IMO.

    My unsolicited opinion on the school sitch: You are at a distinct advantage, since you know the “opponent” first hand. You know how the principal works, the philosophy he passes to his teachers and what land mines to watch out for. So you’ll be better able to maneuver the system (and principal) to advocate for change. You would be the perfect person to help craft a bullying policy at your son’s school!!!

  9. faemom Says:

    KathyB!~ I know. It was your post and going to my old school that had the tale rattling in my head. It does help to see it all safely locked into words and not in my head, waiting to pounce. Funny thing is my ex-bff, the one who became popular and left me, is thinking about sending her daughter to school. Weird.
    ck~ I think you’re right. We’ve lived each other’s childhoods. Crazy. We’ll get through this too.
    Erik~ Thank you for your input. From the outside looking in, it always seemed boys had it easier. But then again I had jocks as brothers. Thanks for sharing and giving me another perspective.
    starviego~ Thank you for the link. If you’re refering to the conspiracy theory that it was an attempt by the left to take away the 2nd amendment, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. But if you’re talking about how these boys weren’t the victims portrayed by the media, I’ll agree. It wasn’t that these boys were victims, though I do believe they were teased. These boys were psychopaths. They were out to kill and destroy, not to revenge. And even if it were revenge, it wouldn’t have made it right. I was just merely saying that I understood hating your classmates so much you wanted them dead.
    Gibby~ I know you’ll keep Poonch safe and happy. I can only imagine the hurt it causes you to see her hurt.
    Ink~ Crying helped a lot 😉 Though I now I think the reason the bully stopped is because I had made friends with some older girls. Looking back the last couple of days, I have a strong feeling one of them had a talk with my bully.
    insider~ I never understood why adults never stepped in more. Because kids are cruel.
    medio~You make a great point. I’ll throw it onto the pro-list. I’ve also heard about the general hazing and that bullying was on the raise due to the fear of males becoming more feminine. Let’s hope our kids are the good guys who aren’t picked on and will take down a bully.

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