Sadly, into each life a little bullying must fall…
I was born, the youngest of five children to immigrant parents.
My father worked hard and despite many obstacles, started his own business. Our house was in a modest neighbourhood, and I made some good friends.
There was one family who lived at the end of the street and they were obviously in a financially better situation than the rest of us who lived on that street. Their house was lovely and quite large and was built on two well-treed lots. They had two cars. Their children had every manner of bicycle and toy. There were four children in that household, three boys and the youngest – a girl. She was beautiful and smart and funny and loved. But she was a bully. Her brothers, also bullies, always stood by to cheer on her antics.
One day, she challenged me to a bike race. I loved my bike. My dad had bought it for me at Canadian Tire (eh!) and it had a bell (with a helicopter on it, which embarrassed me for some reason) and those plastic streamers that hung from the handlebars. Not the most expensive bike, but I loved it.
She had the most expensive bike and clothes and sneakers…
The day of the race, her three brothers were cheering her on and yelling insults and slurs at me. It was beyond mean and I had tears in my eyes as we got on our bikes. They were calling me names and telling me how ugly and stupid I was and how their sister was going to win this race. I was wearing what we called “peddle pushers” (no pun intended). They were tight longish shorts. Not quite ‘Capris’…just funnier looking.
Despite their cruelty, I got on my bike and we started racing.
Midway through the race, their words were so hurtful that I fell and injured myself and lost the race.
She continued peddling to win the race to the rousing cheers of her brothers.
I stayed away from her and her house from that day forward. I let the bullies intimidate me. I was about eight years old at the time.
The bullying continued at school…I was a teeny, tiny, skinny, scrawny, knobby-kneed bookworm. I was ‘Just Billy’. I was very short in stature and always the last child to be picked for any sports team. When choosing teams for sporting events, there were times when the teacher would say, “Well…someone has to take her!” SO not nice… To my rescue came two grade eight boys. They took a liking to me and called me their little sister and would walk by my side in the schoolyard. With them as my protectors (my Busters) the bullies stayed away.
On to high school and a whole new set of bullies, in the form of the proverbial “Mean Girls”. They set a new high on the bar for cruelty. This time, however, I stood tall and sloughed off the meanness (with the help of a very good school teacher/guidance counsellor), and had some great friends who made things infinitely better.
How many children face this type of situation every day? How many children are afraid to speak out and stand up for themselves? And in this day and age, they also have to contend with cyber-bullying. How many children do not fit the ‘popular’ norm but continue to march to the beat of their own drums, only to be ostracized even further?
I recently read a text from a lovely woman, who had gifted my book to a friend, and who had received a text saying that she had read ‘Buster Bartholomew Benjamin Brown and the Schoolyard Bully’ to her children at bedtime. Her children are two, five and seven years of age. The five year old woke her at midnight and asked that it be read to him again. He said that Buster made him feel better. It appears that this little fellow was being bullied on the bus. I cried when I read that story. How heart wrenching.
So, here’s to all of the Busters out there…who stand up for the underdog, the different child, the unpopular child. They are the true superheroes and the ones with the biggest hearts. It’s due in part to the ‘Busters’ of this world that the societal misfits (and I was one of them) find the strength and the fortitude to keep going strong!
Let’s try to instill kindness, tolerance, and acceptance into our children and ourselves.
Phew…first blog post…and I am clearly not a blogger…but it comes from the heart and with the purest of intentions…