Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hoping This Doesn't Go South

When I was in Sixth Grade, on St. Patrick's Day I was decked out in everything green: green skirt, green shirt, green ribbon barrettes in my hair (it was the 80s:), even down to my green paperclip necklace. I was always picked up first and then a few stops later my BFF. We sat together every day as these were the days long before assigned seating was so necessary on the school bus. 

There was a kid on the bus that decided that would be the day to pick on me. I don't even remember his name. I remember, though, arriving to school in tears. His subject matter that day, my legs. My hairy, unshaven, never having been shaved before, legs.

Did I call him a Bully? I don't think so. Did I cry forever, was I hurt, did it damage me? No. I went home and cried to my Mom and begged her to let me shave my legs. She gave me all the reasons in the world why I shouldn't and then told me that I could if I wanted to. I've regretted starting that process every razor burn and cut since. (I should've listened, Mom.)

Then there was the first week of school, every single solitary year. Roll call brought me anxiety in my belly every time. How would my last name be butchered by this poor teacher? Who would laugh and crack up at the sound of the mispronunciation over and over? Where would I be placed in the classroom if the teacher was doing the dreaded alphabetic order? How long would it be for classmates to realize (or assume) it was a dumb Pollock name and start in with the jokes? What jokes would I hear? Perhaps they would finally have a new one? 

How do you get a one armed Pollock out of a tree? 
What was the Pollock doing up there in the first place? 
How many Pollocks does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
How does a Pollock tie their shoe? 

Did I call them bullies. I don't think I did. I would take it in stride and "grin and bear it" until class was over or the jokes were exhausted or the classmates moved on to someone else to pick on. As I got older I ended up being the joke teller and beating them to the punch. Some of the jokesters were my friends here and there. Did it damage me? I'm thinking no. I mean, I remember it, it's a memory, but it's not sent me to therapy or to the funny farm or worse, sent me on a killing spree. (Yet:) {Jokes, people. Just jokes.}

So it brings me to today. Not today specifically but rather this day and age. Do you ever wonder if we over analyze childhood? Do we over rationalize? Do we sensationalize all things childhood in the media too much? Do we bombard our kiddos so much that they are 'looking' for the bully to put a name on them? 

I'm really not quite sure. It's got me wondering. Got me thinking.

I think a lot of the solution lies with our parenting. My Mom and Dad did a great job in showing me how to pick myself up and dust myself off. They didn't spend time petitioning or fighting for those other kids to be thrown out of school. Instead, they worked with me (who was in their control) on how to handle it, how to succeed despite them, or maybe because of them, how to take responsibility for myself and hold myself accountable. I think in my case it worked. Well. 

I'll follow in their footsteps with my kiddos.

I can't help but think, sometimes, that in some cases, we need to just... Lighten Up.

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