By Leslie Lindsay
Yesterday, I wrote this beautiful post on the prevalence of bullying. Okay, perhaps the word, ‘beautiful’ is so wrong when it comes to this terrible social aggression we’ve all come to think of as a ‘normal’ part of growing up.
Right before I was about to hit, “publish,” the whole plonking thing when bye-bye. Since I’m kind of a superstitious person, I wonder if the original post wasn’t meant to go out? Or, perhaps it’s because I ran across something better in the meantime? Ah yes…the muse is at play here.
I came across something better. A book. A literary book. THE SALT GOD’s DAUGHTER eloquently and articulately. In fact, I think you’ll glean so much more if I share an excerpt or two from the book. But first, you must know a couple of things:
1) The character I am discussing is a 12 year old girl who was born with two feet (not so uncommon, eh?) but one of those feet has been affected by syndactylysm, a rare condition in which the toes do not separate in utero. She has a webbed frog-like foot. (Hint: bullies make fun of the different or known).
2) This is fiction, but it’s so relatable.
“Julio was trying to get my attention. I could feel his eyes searing my back, cutting into me, causing me to shift in my seat and finally to turn back and glance at him. I lifted my chin. This time, he gave me the finger. I gave it back to him again.”
“Raise above Naida,” my mother always said. But I was not that godly. Not a saint, and certainly not enough of a wallflower, though I wished to be. Lift off like a huge white bird…
…”She’d gone after me for no reason, so I didn’t know why I was so willing to be her friend. She first learned the secret of my foot when I was six and had authored a series of stories of my hoof and claw, had pretended to like me in order to get my phone number. Now she was almost as tall as our teachers…her authoritative presence had everyone afraid of her…mostly her meanness.”
…”The bully drills. Those torturous things. There were instructions to walk away, as if away were a better place. To ignore a bully. Not give a bully attention….it gets better, they say. It never did. I walked away. It didn’t help. My bullies followed m. My teachers, they could not help at all. Tell on bullies made things worse. The bullies would come back angrier, or perhaps satisfied they were in trouble.”
Oh!! Doesn’t your heart just break for young Naida? Mine, too.
- Agree with the bully. “You’re right. I do have a frog foot. Big deal.” (Or, “You’re right…I do have a big nose/glasses/freckles). This stops the bully cold.
- Flatter the bully with kindness. “Yep. Math’s hard for me now. You’re good at it, maybe you can give me some pointers?”
- Tell the bully you appreciate being noticed. “Thanks for noticing…there are lots of kids in this class/school and you chose to pay attention to me. Cool.”
Try discussing this scenario with you child(ren). Ask for their thoughts on bullying in general. You may be surprised.
Please, if you have any major concerns about a child being bullied, speak up. Bullies are real. They hurt. They can even kill.
[iamge sources: amazon.com retrieved 10/30/13]