You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'teasing'.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 entries.

Connecting the Isms

  • Posted on November 1, 2012 at 11:11 PM

What does it take to hate someone you don’t know? What does it take to dismiss someone you don’t know as unimportant or unacceptable? What does it take to merely underestimate them?

Racism and sexism are the two major instances of this in this country. But “we” also hate, dismiss, and/or underestimate people for their religion, for their political affiliations, for their country of origin, or even for their sports team. “We” hate, dismiss, and/or underestimate people for their abilities and their impairments.

Why? What does that prejudice get “us?” There’s got to be some sort of motivation, doesn’t there? To continue holding onto a prejudice, you either have to be exposed exclusively to examples that fit your expectations or you have to resist being corrected by your own experience, by the logic and experiences shared by others, and by a lot of other information that is available in order to hold onto something that makes no sense.

People hurt others through prejudice and acts of prejudice, through bullying and teasing, through abuse and neglect. The only connection I can find is an under-appreciation of life—particularly other people’s lives—and an over-emphasis on self.

What is this but a lack of empathy? Yet, it’s perfectly “normal,” so normal it’s rampant in our society and in many others. Is this what people strive for when they try to make their children “normal?” Why?

Kids Learn to be Cruel

  • Posted on September 24, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Last year was a great year for Willy. It was so great, in fact, he didn’t want to give it up. He didn’t want to give up his fellow students and friends. He didn’t want to give up his teachers and classes. He didn’t want to give up being a seventh grader. And he wasn’t even changing schools!

Then, came this summer. I didn’t want to think of the summer as a portent to things to come, but here were are, creeping to the end of September, and Willy’s “great” has gone, gone, gone.

This isn’t the year of great. This is the year of epilepsy. This isn’t the year of wonderful. This is the year of bullying. And I’m tired of it already.

For many years, I’ve been reassured that Willy is well-liked by his peers. He was happy to go to the school (most of the time) and he was happy at school (most of the time). But all that has changed. Willy is under attack.

That may sound extreme, but I assure it’s not. Willy is being ruthlessly and cruelly teased by people who used to accept him (or pretended to), but have now decided (if it was a decision) that they can build themselves up by tearing him down (if that’s their motivation). In short, he’s being bullied. He’s being bullied about his glasses, about his coordination, and about his speech. I suspect other aspects of himself are being attacked, too, but like most kids, Willy isn’t particularly comfortable talking about it.

That’s a change, too. I get to watch my child “shell up” and lash out. I get to see his moodiness skyrocket at a time when he’s already struggling with difficult emotions surrounding his epilepsy. So far, I don’t think the bullying and the epilepsy are connected, but it’s hard to be sure.

Whatever is going on, it needs to stop. Every child should be safe at school. They should be safe from their teachers and other service providers. They should be safe from their peers. If they’re not, there’s a problem and the school has a responsibility to address it. I’m in contact with the school, and so far they’re taking it seriously. But it hasn’t stopped. On Thursday, I go in concerning another matter. If I haven’t seen drastic improvements, then Mama Bear will be showing her claws and demanding action.

Kids learn to be cruel. They can learn not to be cruel. Cruelty in our schools should NEVER be tolerated. It needs to stop!

Participation Without the Pressure

  • Posted on May 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM

So, to recap, Willy wants to participate in a triathlon, but I wasn’t really on board with the idea.  Then, the liaison for his school called, and we talked about our respective concerns.  Then she talked to the person in charge, who is also Willy’s regular education gym teacher, about where Willy’s skills are at.

Participating in the swimming portion was ruled out; we agreed that Willy was not a strong enough swimmer to participate safely.  In order to participate in the biking portion of the event, he would need some modifications.  They’re going to help him train at school, during school hours.  A special therapy bike was discussed, though I don’t know if it’s going to be used.  He’ll be training for the running portion before school with the other kids.

So, it’s started.  We have a plan for him to participate in modified and reduced capacity, so that he can participate safely.  I signed the form.  And he’s ready to go, still enthusiastic.  He’s doing it for the fun of it, and because he’s heard enough about the importance of maintaining a healthy body that he’s willing to work for it.  I’m proud of him.

But still, in the back of my mind, I worry about that other thing.  Neither Mark nor I are athletes; Willy’s coordination and grace is not much of an improvement on us.  I’m worried for him.  I don’t want to stand in his way.  I don’t want him to think we don’t believe in him.  But I don’t want this to be a mistake, either.  Willy’s survived school with few incidents of bullying, at least those that I know of, and many of his peers and most of the staff are strongly opposed to that kind of behavior, so I’m confident that what I know is accurate.  But kids can be brutal.  Sometimes they do so intentionally.  Other times they’re cruel without even meaning to be.  And Willy is a very sensitive young man.  So, I worry.

But then I think back to a school picnic a few years ago.  There was this obviously cool kid.  You know, the kind that seems to slide through social situations and the various classroom cliques with ease, fitting in everywhere, idolized by nearly everyone.  He was friendly with Willy, but also protective in a way that was patronizing.  It was as if Willy were the little kid they all let tag along with them.  They all kind of watched out for him, including him in a way that set him apart.  Now, granted, this is better than excluding him or bullying him or teasing him, but it’s still a far cry from real acceptance.  So, I was not pleased.

The moment this dynamic became clear was when the kids were climbing the slides.  Everyone was fine with Willy climbing the smaller slide.  When they moved on to climbing the roller slide, they even coached him on his technique, showing him the trick of how to do it.  They waited patiently when he took longer than the others.  It was nice to see how they welcomed Willy into their fun.  Then, they moved on to the bigger slide, and the cool kid said Willy shouldn’t climb with them, because it was too dangerous.  It wasn’t too dangerous for the other kids.  Just Willy.

Up until then, I’d been sitting in the background, just watching.  But here I had to intervene.  I told them that I was his mom and that he could climb the slide just as well as any of them.  That was all I said, and I was right.  I didn’t make a big deal, but I took my concern to the teachers and they got it.  Supposedly, things got better after that.

So, I got to think:  I‘m never going to be that cool person that seems to slide through social circles and cliques so easily, and neither will Willy, but I can’t help but wonder if the worries and feelings I’m struggling with now put me on par with that kid.  Am I being too protective?  Am I being unsupportive or just realistic?  Am I underestimating him?

I don’t want to do that.  At the same time, it’s important to recognize real limits.  The balance I’m trying to strike is to give Willy the opportunity to participate this year, with modifications, and then to give him opportunities to build his skills and endurance, so next year he can participate in the full Fun Heat without the worries.  Is that too much to ask?