Bullies BewarePosted: January 22, 2013 | |
Bullying is a social issue that unfortunately plagues almost everyone at one time or another. It’s a crime on a personal level that often goes unprosecuted because it operates in a grey area. An argument may be made on both sides: one person’s “bullying” may be another person’s “joke” or cliquish behavior. I, myself, got caught up in the mean girl mentality –both as victim and perpetrator– around middle school: excluding people, speculating, just needlessly not nice things. Though my intent was never to hurt anyone, it shames me now to have ever been involved in such trivial and ultimately harsh behaviors. At the time, as perpetrator I truly didn’t think anyone cared enough about my opinion to take me seriously, let alone get their feelings hurt. (I wasn’t putting much thought or energy into the mean girl behavior, how could I possibly hurt someone?) Once I realized my behavior was truly hurtful, after being a victim of it myself, and that bullying was the case, I set about apologizing, and nipping ostracizing and victimizing in the bullying bud, as did my pals. What goes around comes around was definitely the case with me, as I had a yearlong run-in with a bully of epic proportions when I went to high school. My younger thoughtlessness paled in comparison to this girl’s malicious intent. But everything is relative, and what I participated in and instigated during my younger years was no less hurtful to the recipient.
Because of my experiences with bullying, as a nanny I am very anti bullying of any kind. My joking with the kiddos is always on the positive level, and I know exactly which nerves not to hit. Just as in romantic relationships love is when you know which buttons to push, so you don’t push them, I do the same in my nannying. If I know one of the kiddos is insecure about something, or that a certain shortcoming is of concern to him/her, I’m more than careful not to joke about it, or let anyone else press that button. I also discourage the kiddos from hurting each other’s feelings intentionally, and reprimand them seriously for doing so.
It’s fairly simple and easy to keep bullying at bay within the realm of my charges and their households/playdates/natural habitat, but at times it’s impossible to shield them from attacks of the outside world. However, given the opportunity, I will lay the proverbial smackdown on any bully, big or small, who tries to pull a stunt with one of the kiddos.
Case in point, years ago while combining two toddlers, Jammer (an at that time weekly morning charge) and Blue Eyes (an occasional morning watch), we had gone out to lunch at a family friendly establishment, complete with inside playscape. While the boys climbed, slid, and raced, I watched from the benches next to the playscape, guarding their shoes and keeping an eye on them. I heard Blue Eyes exclaim an alarmed, “Hey!” and the next I saw he had fallen, clearly pushed off of the slide, closely followed by a child I can only describe as looking like Lou Ferrigno, and dressed like Chucky. As if his appearance and stature weren’t frightening enough, he barged up to a startled Blue Eyes and grabbed the front of his shirt. By this time, I was on my feet, had crossed the play area, and was pulling his bully butt off of Blue Eyes. I sat Blue Eyes down on the bench, smiled at him and asked him to wait with a now watching Jammer while I found this child’s mother. I turned back to the bully boy, probably five years old (and therefore old enough to know better) and told him to take me to his mother, who, as it turns out was not even watching him in the play area but was gabbing with her friends at the back of the restaurant, out of seeing and hearing range of her sons unkind antics. I marched up to her, “Lou”, shockingly not contrite following me, and let her know, “You really need to watch your son. He’s pushing children off the slide, and being very rough with the little ones. And he grabbed my charge by the shirt.” The woman shrugged, “I didn’t see him doing that.” She replied wide-eyed, as if her ignorance was an excuse. “Well you wouldn’t be able to see him from way back here. Children are supposed to be supervised. If he wants to go back to play area, you need to be with him or I’ll speak to the manager,” I said, turning on my heel, and returning to the two slack-jawed toddlers who had seen Miss Cheryl stern, but never PO’d. I imagine Jammer and Blue Eyes watched me walk back in slow motion, the grills of the restaurant sending up flames behind me, ala Desperado. Miss Cheryl: Supernanny.
Here are some bully awareness/anti-bullying websites to visit: