Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Hidden Bully

When you hear about bullies these days it often pertains to emotional bullying. Words. Meanness through words. Texting and Face Book contribute to the popularity of this type of bullying. Well that and the fact that the girl bullies don't want to mess up their perfectly flat ironed hair or chip their manicures. One face is beautiful and the number two face is twisted up and grotesque. Hard to swallow at any age but especially at that age when you aren't at all sure of your own place in the world.

Way back when there was a different kind of bullying. The kind you read about in a novel or see in a movie. The kid towering over another that uses physical strength to cause harm. I remember a girl that used to live up the street. She was mean. She needed attention and didn't care if it was negative or positive attention. She used to get off the bus and follow me and a friend as we walked home. She constantly screamed the song "oh Mickey, your so fine..." in our ears and kicked our heels as we walked. She liked to make us cry and then she would laugh. The harder we would cry the harder she would laugh. It was what fueled her fire. Everyone knew her as the bully and she liked that. She took lunch money and lunches. She stole Halloween candy and shoved boys and girls alike. She ended up just where you would think she might. Alone. Uneducated. Jail.

The interesting thing is that the girl that is that bully today blends in well. She wears the Aeropsotle T's and sparkly eye makeup. She has a cell phone and lots of friends. She craves popularity and surrounds herself with the "ones". She knows just how to push girls down to be the one on the top. She knows what to say to make others shrink away. No need for punching or kicking. The new quiet manipulation causes less ripples and a much more efficient effect. This bully is harder to pinpoint. Harder to stop. Eventually this bully will be a lawyer or a mom or a teacher. I think I might like the old school bully more. At least those bullies are not hiding in every clique.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Flutophone Chronicles

My 4th grader came home last week with a snazzy blue case and a big smile. When she carefully unzipped it and tenderly removed her shiny new flutophone (or recorder as they call them now) I cringed. Some memories from when I was her age involving a not so favorable incident with a flutophone swept across my mind. She was so excited that I pushed the memory away and watched her attach the instrument to her neck strap and begin to screech out a few notes. After a few minutes she stopped and took her special cleaning cloth out and wiped it down and placed it back in her case just as precisely as she had taken it out. Her happiness lasted about a week. Last weekend she started to resent the plastic screamer. She couldn't quite get the notes right and told me that the teacher pointed her out and only her and told her she was holding it wrong. She didn't come over and show her how to hold it. She didn't tell her anything good she was doing. She just sternly chastised her in front of the whole class. That vision made my old instrument incident come flooding back like an out of control tsunami.

When I was in third grade I had a teacher who was known as the mean one. She yelled. Her voice was gruff. She had no sympathy for shyness or quietness. She disliked it as a matter of fact. I cried more then once in her class and she would tell me to suck it up, act my age, stop being a baby. That only made me cry harder. By spring I was holding it together more and had made a few friends in the class. We had just started a new unit in music and everyone was all a twitter. It was the flutophone unit! It was the first day and we were all excited to get our hands on them. It was loud and chaotic. Lots of squeaking and screeching. At that time there was not a separate music teacher, the classroom teacher was the one to teach the notes and blowing technique. When she had passed out one to each student she abruptly told everyone to shut up and sit down. Everyone did but there were a few squeaks here and there that interrupted her as she began the lesson. Again she told everyone to be quiet and threatened that the next sound she heard would result in a major punishment. There was absolute and complete quiet. Not one sound. No one wanted to endure one of her punishments. As she started to talk my friend, who was sitting next to me, made a funny face at me and I tried to contain a giggle. All would have been ok IF I hadn't had the flutophone up next to my mouth. You see I stopped the sound of the giggle but the air escaped out of my mouth and traveled through the mouth piece and created a loud squeak. Everyone looked at me, jaws to the ground. I could feel the red hot traveling across my face and the tears well up in my eyes. The teacher immediately walked over to me and grabbed the instrument out of my hands she told me to get up and that I could no longer be a part of the learning today. She led me out into the hall and made me turn toward the wall and put my nose up to it. She said I was a disappointment and turned around walked into the class room and slammed the door. I stood there for what seems like hours, crying quietly and feeling like a loser as other classes passed by me staring and whispering. I honestly don't know how long I was out there and I don't remember what happened afterwards. I do know that teacher should not have been there teaching young kids. After that day I would never ever look at another instrument. It ruined it for me.

When I started to tell my mom the other day about the incident she told me I had never told her before. In all honesty I think it went into the box in my brain full of those things that you just never want to have a memory of...things you would rather forget. My parents had something about that teacher that they put in that box in their heads years ago too. At a parent teacher conference that pivotal year that teacher told my mom and dad that I would certainly never go to college. She told them I would slide by and get through but had no potential for higher education. They told me that years later at my college graduation where I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in education.

Teacher do shape us in our lives. The academics are very important but so is the positive feedback and the ability to see potential even when it might seem there isn't any.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Foot on the Banana Peel

Some things drive make me bonkers, bananas and as mad as a hatter. Some things absolutely make me teeter on the brink of insanity. Some things like these things...

Forgetting my purse and not realizing it until I am in the checkout line at the store

Cat throw up

People who see the world in black and white and refuse to even consider gray as an option


Coats and backpacks strewn about

People who use guns to try and solve problems

12 year olds

Snow/ snow days/ cold temperatures

Not being able to run outside (see above ^^^)

Thong underwear

People who use religion/politics/being a crunchy mom as a reason for talking down to others

Poor grammar

My closet

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Faster than a Speeding Bullet.

Last year was heavy. Lot of things were hard to swallow and even harder to understand. Things that looked real and for sure, ended up being disposable and fleeting. In other words if something seemed to good to be true it probably was... those visions of perfection make the flaws even harder to accept and almost impossible to forgive.

When bad things start happening to good people it makes you want to grab on to some sort of unreachable faith. To try and find answers to those questions of why people who live their life in nothing but honesty and goodness sometimes have to face challenges beyond the realm of the heaven bound entrance exam. Why live in the light of what is right if there is no assurance of it bringing happiness?

I have decided that I was focusing on the wrong thing. There really might be no answer as to why horrendous things happen to those that don't deserve it..as much as you want a definitive reason why things in life happen chances are you won't get one. The badness and goodness of people is totally independent of the badness and goodness that happens to them. I can't change any of that.

I can however turn the focus inward. I can realize my own contentment. What brings me joy and delight. I can find a way to change my own circumstance. To enjoy the minutes and seconds while they are here instead of worrying about when they might not be. Remembering the things that can't be bought at the store or won in the rat race. Time can't stand still, in fact it seems to be moving faster every minute. Faster than a speeding bullet.