Be Nice, For F*cks Sake
Being a parent is amazing for a million reasons. I truly love it. But, of course, parenting is frustrating AF too.
My current biggest frustration: Other. Asshole. Kids.
Holy. Moly. I am so so sick of other kids. Especially now that Brody is in middle school (and we all know how middle school is) we're running into this issue more and more. Manipulation, text harassment, constant he said/she said, the popularity game.
I remember, vividly, what it was like to be in middle school. It was hard. I was teased often, didn't have many friends, and just wanted so desperately to fit in. I moved in 8th grade to a small town in Montana, where other kids were ruthless. I cried often and didn't even want to go to school.
Right now, my main concern is making sure my kids are NOT the asshole kids.
How do I even begin? It's one of those pressures of motherhood. "Am I raising him/her right? Am I completely fucking this up? Is my kid a bully?" I've been a firm believer in loving them hard, spending quality time with them, and teaching them right from wrong, all in the hopes that they will be good people. But I greatly underestimated the possibility of outside influence.
Brody had a friend over a few weeks ago. They were both on their iPads, playing some war game, Clash of Clans, I think? I was making dinner and I could hear them talking to each other. They were getting frustrated with losing, or something to that effect. The other kid is not a bad kid, but he does have more ups and downs than I'm used to. The way he was talking to Brody prompted me to remind them several times to be kind. However, I noticed within an hour, Brody was talking very similarly. When the other kid went home, I had a talk with Brody. He's a sweet kid and I know he took me seriously, but I know this sort of thing is bound to happen again.
So exactly how do we make sure kids keep their heads during these tricky years?
Well, newsflash, i have no fucking clue.
But, I'm trying.
I started with the Toothpaste Metaphor. I heard of this years ago and I stored it away to remember when my kids were old enough.
Watch the video below...
I did exactly what this video says, had Brody and Zach squeeze the toothpaste out, asked them to put it back. They reacted similarly to this woman's daughter, flabbergasted by how they could possibly do that. I told them how important words are in the upcoming years and for the rest of their lives.
Of course, being a preteen/teenager in these times is more than just words. Its making the conscious effort to not be involved with people who bully, not to be a silent bystanders if they witness bullying, and to always, always, always be the person who speaks up.
That's a lot of weight for their little shoulders, I know. So much weight. In fact, it makes my anxiety squirm and turn at the thought of it. To be the one who goes against the grain in middle school where everyone just wants to fit in? It's hard but worth it and I will not raise these children to tolerate bullying assholes. Their generation will be better than ours and those before us.
Although I do think schools are slowly changing and being better at their "No Bullying" policies, action isn't always taken. Which is why it is imperative to teach my children how to stick up for themselves and anyone else being bullied.
Kids can be cruel. They tease about the way you look, the color of your skin, glasses, your clothing, any little thing that a kid can exploit to make someone else feel bad about themselves. I've told my kids time and time again, it's a power play. Asshole kids bully to make themselves feel powerful. Do not let them have that power over you.
Zachary was called "faggot" by a group of students who followed my boys home from school. It was not a one time incident. After calming down and gathering myself, I found out who the boys were and where they lived. I spoke to each of their parents. Many excuses were made, many "reasons" for their kids to be assholes. Not acceptable. If you are a parent and your kid is being a dick, take care of it! If you make excuses, you are the fucking problem.
Being in a new school, Zachary also has had a hard time adjusting. If you follow me, you know he struggles with ADHD, OCD, and anxiety. When he gets frustrated, he has outbursts where he yells or cries.
Kids have been picking on him for this reason. They taunt him until he has an outburst. They ostracize him. My sweet, sweet Zachary. Have you ever met my kid? He's the sweetest little guy ever. He's a lover and yet his condition has become a point of contention at school.
He also gets teased because he's smaller than average. In just the 3rd percentile, we call Zachary our little peanut.
How ridiculous a thing to be teased about! It blows my mind.
Boys Will NOT Be Boys
Boys will be held responsible for their decisions, that's what the fuck boys will do.
Sexism, sexual harassment, and assault have always been an issue. Right now, this topic is being discussed in a much larger forum than before and those who have long abused their power are beginning to fall. I love watching the community of women stand up against this mistreatment, and men should be standing right there supporting it.
This conversation needs to start young. It should be ingrained in their brains; mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts need to be ensuring that the young boys in their families know this shit. I have talked with my boys at length about respecting all girls and women they come into contact with.
I remember getting my bra snapped daily, getting my ass slapped or grabbed, the "accidental" boob grabs, the sexist jokes at my expense. Back then I didn't know if I enjoyed the attention or if it made me uncomfortable. I never told anyone. I didn't want to be a tattletale and I was already getting teased pretty badly.
You do not ever touch anyone without their explicit consent. You do not have the right to anyone else's body EVER. Furthermore, if you witness someone grabbing someone else against their will, you will stick up for that person. It is not cool to be a sexist pig.
And lastly, suicide.
I'm so sad that this is an issue for their age group, but that is the stark reality. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for kids ages 10-14. It breaks my heart.
Kids fight big battles. They go through big things. Depression, abuse, anxiety, peer pressure, disorders, etc. The list is endless. The boys and I watched several videos featuring children who had been bullied and/or attempted suicide directly relating to bullying.
Brody and Zach were incredulous that people could be so cruel.
I told them, if you see someone hurting, be nice. If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. If you see someone being pushed around, speak up. These kids need a friend, and everyone has the potential to be that friend.
So parents, please teach your kid to BE NICE, for fucks sake.