My Bullied History, Part 1 – Elementary School
Recently, a young girl comitted suicide due to being bullied. I’ve struggled long and hard about the best way to approach this topic. It isn’t easy for me to talk about as I was bullied myself for years and still have some emotional scars. I had hopes that NHL would escape what I went through, but the other week, as I dropped him off at school, he told me that some kids were calling him names. B asked and it turned out that they were all calling each other names. It doesn’t excuse it, but at least he’s not being singled out for “special treatment” yet.
If he is singled out and bullied, however, I’m going to need to figure out a course of action. And that’s going to mean drawing upon my experiences as a young bullied kid. This, in turn, is going to mean confronting this history head-on. So think of this week’s blog posts as therapy.
My own bullied history (as far as I can remember) begins in the second grade. The bully hear wasn’t a peer of mine, but the teacher. Yes, you read that right: the teacher. Don’t ask me why she became a teacher because Mrs. D hated kids. She particularly hated little boys and, for some reason, she despised me. She would make fun of me in front of the rest of the class. She would tell me that I’d never succeed in life because I couldn’t color or cut within the lines. She would send home busy work just for me such as writing out my ABC’s. This busy work would get turned in to her only for her to hand it back to me (unmarked) with the exact same assignment for that night. My mother eventually had me hand in the same paper over and over and she never was able to tell.
There was a bathroom in the room and I would go there as frequently as I could just to get away from her. When I got the chicken pox, I was happy to be out of her classroom for awhile. I actually dropped out of school, refusing to go back, because she was so mean to me. My parents let me stay out for a short while but then sent me back. Of course, my parents tried getting me out of her class. The principal wouldn’t allow it, though. He insisted that she was their best teacher and refused to consider any possibility of her being a Teacher-Bully.
I suffered through second grade and could have easily become the kind of kid who hated school and barely got D’s. Instead, in third grade, I ran into Mrs. S. Mrs. S gave me a standardized reading test along with the rest of her class. She remarked how well I did and how she wanted me to try the advanced reading test. When I aced that one too, she put me in the advanced reading group. This led to other advanced classes which led to AP and college level courses down the road. I credit Mrs. S. for pulling me out of the train wreck of the second grade and putting me on the fast track to a great education.
Years later, I returned to my elementary school. I wanted to visit with my old teachers, but mostly I wanted to confront Mrs D with the fact that I was succeeding despite her prediction. Unfortunately, she had retired the previous year and moved away. She had robbed me of the chance to show her she was wrong, but I decided that proving that she was wrong about me by succeeding in school was good enough for me.
Coming up next week, things go from bad to worse…