Bullying


Sorry – it’s been a while. I’ve been wondering what to write about. Then I saw this question on Facebook from A Soldier’s Mother:

What is the single moment you wish you could live over again? Not necessarily to change anything – just to experience it again?

There were several replies. Most found it hard to pick out a single moment. Me too. What would I choose? The moment after giving birth? How wonderful to relive that moment without having to suffer what goes before it! But isn’t the suffering part of what makes that moment so special?

At this point, I could go off on a different tangent: the value of suffering. But I won’t – not for now, anyway.

So, what other moments do I want to relive? Our wedding day is another significant one. But there are other, less notable moments I could relive. Walking on the mountains of Switzerland or elsewhere, dancing, giving a presentation to an audience. I really enjoy all of those.

A Soldier’s Mother later said she decided not to ask what moment people wanted to change in their lives because it could make them sad. But I thought about it anyway. One moment stuck out. There must be others, but this one blocks the others from my mind.

I was fourteen. I’d been bullied for nine years, although I never thought of it as “bullying”. I decided to stop talking. It was the only thing I could think of doing that might stop them tormenting me. It worked – partially. And I’ve been suffering from that decision ever since.

I don’t deny that my life has been good and still is, but it could have been better and easier and less complicated without it.

So, I invite you to think about either of those questions (without being sad – I’m not). And, of course, you’re welcome to comment below (although if you’re looking at this page of this site – not just this particular post – the comment button is at the top of the post).

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Yes, I have decided to reveal all. I realise this could have serious consequences for me, notably that they’ll be coming to take me away. I just don’t know who “they” are.

So this is it. I promise I didn’t make this up. No, in fact I borrowed it from mapelba, who wrote it this comment: “I was a first class criminal in high school. I broke the laws of fitting in.”

A great comment. I could have said it myself. If I’d been clever enough.

***

My next post may well highlight the wide diversity in shapes and sizes of boo….

Until next time 🙂

Sometimes ideas go around from blog to blog. One person blogs about something and others decide to blog about the same thing. I first saw this idea on Rosalind Adam’s  blog. She got the idea from someone else. Probably others got the idea from her. That’s how it works.

This idea has a name. It’s called the Fun and Games Blogfest. You blog about your three favourite games. That’s fun, I thought. I could do that.

Then I thought some more about the games I played as a child. And each game I thought about led to thoughts about bullying. It’s not that I didn’t play games in my childhood. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy playing games in my childhood. But my overwhelming memories now are not about the happy times. They’re about the sad times. They’re about the times I was left out of games, or worse – made to feel worthless when I tried to join in.

So I decided I didn’t really want to blog about games I played. But I was still left wondering how I should react. Should I ignore the whole thing and not mention it, or should I write about my feelings? By writing, doesn’t it spoil things for others? The original idea was just a bit of fun. I don’t need to ruin that with my hangups.

This doesn’t apply only in this particular case. It’s true nearly every time childhood is brought up in conversation. I think that anything I could add to the conversation wouldn’t be appropriate. It would turn a fun conversation into a sad and boring one. So I keep quiet.

But I’ve kept quiet all my life. I’m fed up with keeping quiet. I want to speak out. I want others to know who I am. But I don’t want to spoil their fun.

When I attended my last school reunion, I kept quiet and listened to all the fond memories. Inside, I was crying for the girl who didn’t take part in those fun things they remembered. Afterwards, I decided not to attend the next reunion.

But that’s what I don’t want to do. That’s what social anxiety is about – hiding away so that society doesn’t know who you really are. I don’t want to do that any more.

That’s why I don’t know how to react. Any ideas?

Just a question today.

In the dark, distant days of yore when I was at school, teachers didn’t really have the skills to deal with bullying. They hadn’t been taught this, and presumably what seems obvious to me wasn’t obvious to them. For them, as long as violence wasn’t involved, what happened between the children was none of their business.

Nowadays, things are different. Bullying is discussed as part of their syllabus. Schools have bullying policies.

So why is bullying still rampant in schools?

 

BULLYING

Just a question today.

In the dark, distant days of yore when I was at school, teachers didn’t really have the skills to deal with bullying. They hadn’t been taught this, and presumably what seems obvious to me wasn’t obvious to them. For them, as long as violence wasn’t involved, what happened between the children was none of their business.

Nowadays, things are different. Bullying is discussed as part of their syllabus. Schools have “bullying policies”.

So why is bullying still rampant in schools?

Note: I wrote this post yesterday. Today, after receiving that news over to the right, I’m feeling much better.

Recently, I wrote a post entitled Guilt. It was about guilt in Nicola Morgan’s YA novel, Wasted, and the way it spawns dangerous behaviour in one of the main characters. This current post is more personal, and it’s also influenced partly by Nicola Morgan. This time it’s her post about emotions and writing. She writes about events that can render a writer temporarily incapable of writing, especially fiction writing. She mentions emotions that stump creativity.

By chance, that post appeared exactly two weeks after my mother passed away, an event that caused emotions in me, although not the ones you might expect.

People, when they heard the news, started to talk to me or send me messages. They all said one thing: you must be feeling so sad. I said thank you and felt awful because I didn’t feel sad. And, because I didn’t feel what everyone expected me to feel, I thought there must be something wrong with me. It took me some time to work out the truth.

My mother was 98 and had suffered from dementia for at least five years. I felt sad five years ago when I realised I no longer had a mother I could consult with or converse with. I lost my mother five years ago, when nobody said how sorry they were. Working that out made me feel better but didn’t completely wipe out the guilt, because there were other reasons for it.

My mother and I were never close. I never shared my life with her, neither events nor feelings, especially as a child. There was a reason for that. She was over-protective of me. She worried so much about the little things that I felt I couldn’t tell her about the big things. In particular, I never told her that I was bullied at school. I wanted to protect her from further worry and also felt that telling her wouldn’t help me and could make things worse for me. I don’t know how much that was true. By not sharing, I drew a wedge between us that remained to the end.

When, late in her life, a suggestion was made of looking for a home for my mother near to where I live, I made enquiries and decided against it. I won’t go into my reasons for that here. They relate back to a way in which my mother made my childhood very difficult for me, although she didn’t intend that at all. The decision not to have her near me put more of a burden on someone else; perhaps that was wrong of me.

So, although I’ve found logical reasons why I don’t feel as sad now as people expect, I still have reasons to feel guilty where my mother is concerned.

Do feel free to comment on this post, whether you think I should be feeling guilty or not. I wrote it to let out my emotions and (hopefully) free my creative tubes.

I’m very glad to leave the place of my week-long solitary sojourn and return to the vibrant vivacity if M2’s house. Before that, M2, J and I have arranged to meet at Waterloo for a day out. We all know each other from uni. Planning to meet people from uni has none of the apprehension that meeting people from school does. At uni, I fitted in, joined in.

So I leave my suitcase at the left-luggage office, which is between platforms 11 and 12. (Sort of 11¾?)

I finally get my ploughman’s lunch, so I can tick that off on my list:

Eat shortbread
Drink cider
Eat ploughman’s lunch in pub
Eat fish and chips
Eat salt and vinegar crisps
Eat scones with jam and cream X
If summer, feel rain
Buy underwear in M&S X

Unfortunately, the food in the pub we choose is not wonderful – maybe that’s why it’s empty – but at least the company is good.

We visit a museum called “Enchanted Palace” at Kensington Palace. It’s a bit strange but interesting. Then we walk around the gardens and take tea in the Orangery, a very posh-looking place. And I finally get my scone with jam and cream. Mmm. So this is the final table:

Eat shortbread
Drink cider
Eat ploughman’s lunch in pub
Eat fish and chips
Eat salt and vinegar crisps
Eat scones with jam and cream
If summer, feel rain
Buy underwear in M&S X

The underwear isn’t essential; I bought some quite recently. Back in the gardens, someone is feeding squirrels:

In the evening, I finally give M2’s husband the answer to his question. It was day 22 when he asked me what I learned in my life that I wish I’d known earlier. I haven’t really been thinking about this question ever since, but I haven’t had the opportunity to answer – or that’s what I tell myself. This is the last opportunity, so I take it. “I wish I’d known before the age of five how children treat each other. That would have made all the difference.”

You see, on my first day at school, through no fault of my own, I missed the first part of the day. At the end of the day, the teacher gave out drawings to the children. One girl said to me, “You won’t get a drawing because you didn’t do one.” It’s a perfectly normal thing for one child to say to another, but the mocking tone of her voice made me think I was being singled out, that there was something wrong with me. That feeling stayed with me. I expected to be treated differently and the other children picked up on that and did as I expected.

The next post will be the penultimate one in this series.

Our visit to the nursing home where my mother resides is a bit hard. It’s hard because you remember the person as she used to be and realise that person is no longer. The carer who tends to her is very patient and I remark on that. “You have to be patient to work here,” she replies.

The next morning, I receive a text message from M2: “Happy birthday!” I phone her back. “Thanks for reminding me!” Later, we set off for the Jewish Museum, where we meet another cousin. We see three exhibitions – Judaism: a living faith, History: A British Story and a changing exhibition: “Illuminations”.  I find the history one the most interesting. Afterwards, we have lunch in the café. I choose a salt-beef sandwich in rye bread (what else?). In the evening, I’m delighted to see all the birthday wishes on Facebook and reply, “Just for that, it’s worth having a Facebook account.”

The following morning, I take the train to my childhood. I look at the house where I grew up. The stone wall is now painted white and the front garden has become a parking area. I take a once-familiar walk up to my old school, which I haven’t set eyes on for 39 years. As far as I remember, the outside of the building looks just the same.

The school is closed for the summer holidays. That’s probably just as well. I’ve seen enough. I visit a nearby well-equipped leisure centre. Why wasn’t that there when I lived here?

In the afternoon, I meet up with my cousins for a play at the Churchill Theatre – Alan Ayckbourn’s “Bedroom Farce”. I have a lovely time, but … well, I’ve seen better farces.

***

Looking at my school’s website, I see that today is the start of anti-bullying week, and that the school has an anti-bullying policy. Progress has been made. I wonder if it would have made a difference in my case. I hope so.

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