So, Eilis came in from school today quite upset. In school, two little girls handed out invitations to the other girls for their upcoming birthday party. Eilis was the only girl in the class who was not the recipient of an invitation, and despite assurances from one of the girls that they just “forgot” her invitation, she was hurt. Because Eilis has been the victim of bullies before, and this sort of felt like bullying.

Now, truth be told, this was an accident. The mom to one of the girls was kind enough to call me and explain that the invitation was misplaced when it was pulled aside to make sure the name was correctly spelled. This was a simple misunderstanding, but the defenses were already up.

Because this is what you think of when you think of a bully

It’s always the bigger kid, picking on the little kid.  We have this vision in our heads that bullies came in big, burly packages.

But they don’t always.  When the group of girls at your daughter’s lunch table stands their lunch boxes up in front of them, then tells your daughter it’s because they don’t want to have to see her while they eat, that’s bullying.  Or when they make fun of your daughter on dollar dress down day because her clothes aren’t as hip or contemporary as their’s, that’s bullying.

And those bullies look more like this

They’re the kids that don’t want your kid in their games.  They whisper about her behind her back – or they whisper about something else right in front of her.

They make your kid feel less than she’s worth.

And no matter what we do to prevent bullying, no matter what threats the schools make to punish the bullies, they’re still going to be there.

Because some people just can’t accept that other people are different.  No matter what the differences are.

In our case, this time, it was a simple misunderstanding.  But it isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, it’s just genuine hurt.

2 thoughts on “Bullies – They’re Not Who You Think They Are”

  1. Anna,
    Madison is still so terribly alone in school. After having been ditched by her best friend 2 years ago. She has no confidence. She doesn’t talk to people at school. She thinks they will think anything she says is “stupid”. All because of a classmate (and her witch of a mother) who wanted Madison’s bff to be her’s instead. Madison spent every day of Fifth grade eating alone. I finally picked her up and brought her home each day for lunch with me where she knew she was loved and accepted. She has not been invited to anything, by anyone from school since 4th grade. She is quiet and shy and has chosen to be invisible rather than be hurt again. It kills me. Her teachers love her. College aged kids are her comfort level. She is too mature for kids at school. Girls are so evil to each other. I feel so bad for Eilis. That’s what I mean by “subtle” bullying — the whispering, the looks, the exclusion. It’s far worse because it hurts more and it’s hard for someone to take note and punish the offenders. I am so sad about Halloween. Once again, Madison has no one to trick or treat with. She will probably go with Julia and maybe a cousin or two, but she would so love to go with kids from school. She will not join in to conversation or ask if she can join the group that’s going. They are nice kids, but she is so scarred from before that she will not put herself out there for anything.

    I want to do something about this kind of stuff– besides smack some smug little bitches in the face. When I worked in a school, I made it my mission to watch for the subtle bullying and watch for the effects on others if I missed the event. My kids knew they would treat each other with respect or they would be the ones who were left out and alone.

  2. Oh my gosh, Maggie! Your post just made me cry! I was always the fat kid, so I knew bullies, but as bad as the pain was being bullied, the pain of knowing your baby is going through the same thing is worse. I feel terrible for Madison, and wish there was some magic Hogwarts wand that could make everything all better for these girls.

    And if she wants to trick or treat with Eilis, she’s welcome to come on over. Eilis has been begging me to let her ask kids to come trick or treat with her, but I always say no to try and stave off the hurt feelings 🙁

    Big hugs, Maggie. It’s times like this when you realize how hard it truly is to be a mom. It’s not the reminding them to wash behind their ears, or carting them to every after school activity there is. The hard part is in not being able to take away their hurt 🙁

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