Roots & Wings

2:13 PM

Have you seen this video making the rounds?  What a heartbreaking reality this is for many kids these days.  I hate it.  The shit talking that kids engage in now, for no apparent reason other than to just do it, is ridiculous.  Jonah states that his bullying started in the first grade.  The freaking first grade.  Where do first graders even learn this behavior?  Children should be taught kindness and tolerance, and our job, as parents and role models, is to teach them. 

I also wonder how his parents feel watching the video.  Did they know that he contemplated suicide?  And, if so, did they do or not do anything?  Do they realize what an incredible kid they have?  Which brings me to another thought - how do we protect our kids without overprotecting them?  When do we step in and stand up for our kids and when do we sit silently and scream obscenities in our head? 

I see glimpses of trash talking (already!) in the life of my own child.  I will ask about her day and she will tell me that she didn't play with two of her friends today and when I ask why it's because one friend said that,  "She told me she wasn't my best friend and I should go away.  She was mean."  My heart breaks for my kid, her friends are a whole three and a half years old.  I know the girl's parents, it's not like she comes from a "bad" home, where did she learn this?  So, I do the only thing I can, I ask Cameryn how it made her feel and when she says, 'Sad', I ask who she played with instead.  When she tells me her other little friend at school, I say, 'Oh, she's a nice girl, did you have fun?'  We don't dwell on the bad things.  I encourage her to play with all of her friends, even though some of them are apparently total buttheads one day and they are back to being BFF's the next.  She's three.  The social order shouldn't be established yet, but apparently, it's in the workings.  My kid is strong, smart, beautiful.  We don't use the words stupid, fat, or ugly.  We talk about exercise and foods that are good for your body.  I don't talk about my stuggles with my own self image around her.  I struggled with my identity growing up, never really fitting in anywhere, with any particular group.  My goal is to present a stronger front for my child than what was presented to me in order for her to grow up feeling like a strong, powerful, young woman. 

Do any of you watch Parenthood on NBC?  One of the boys on the show has Aspergers and is being made fun of at school without realizing it.  The mom does and she steps in and confronts the boy who is doing the bullying.  While the boy on Parenthood probably cannot stand up for himself due to his condition, some kids can, and some need to learn when to fight their own fights and when to turn to an adult for help.  Watching this play out on tv, I thought to myself, 'She is SO out of line!  She should not have confronted that boy, he's not hurting her son physically, therefore, she needs to butt out and go confront the parent!  Go to the school administration, something!' Whereas a friend of mine thought, 'Yes!  Do it! Stand up for your kid!' 

Do you remember being bullied as a child? Was it even classified as bullying or were we told to suck it up and deal with it when our so-called friends were acting like fools? I think it was probably the latter, but I also feel as if what we call bullying today has been taken to another level.  What a fine line we must walk as parents.  We're an overprotective bunch, like lions guarding their cubs from hyenas.  We don't let our kids get out of our sight in fear out of what might happen.  The world that we live in has changed, so much, since we were young.    Yet, at the same time, we must let go.  We must let them learn on their own how to navigate this strange world and the people in it.  But sometimes, I really, really don't want to.

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