Bullying has been making the news a lot lately. Something needs to be done when children are taking their lives because of bullying. The adults in their lives are failing them. There are many people who were bullied as children that grow up and say that it made them stronger as adults. That may be so, but I guarantee you it still affects them today.
Even though it happened when I was 9, which was 29 years ago, every detail is still vivid in my memory. The recollection brings that same anxious, panicked feeling making me want to cry, to refrain from crying for fear of the teasing getting worse, to hide...
I grew up in a rural area in the south. I attended school in one small town through first grade and moved to a neighboring town and started second grade in the new school. I didn't know anyone in my new school, but quickly made a couple of friends. There were two girls in my grade that were in another class. I recognized their faces from seeing them around, but I didn't even know their names. And then one day on the playground, I was sitting with my new friend as we did every day talking and giggling under one of the many oak trees on the playground.
I still remember the smell of hot, humid, wet, dirt mixed with pine that hung heavy in the air. We were oblivious to what was going on around us as we sat and drew pictures and word games in the sand as the tree shaded us from that gulf coastal heat. And then I heard it, in a laughing, sing-song, happy voice, "[Lu-cy] is a ba-by! [Lu-cy] wears dia-pers!" It was those two girls. I barely knew them and I had no idea what I had done to anger them. One was sitting on the other's shoulders and they were skipping and dancing around the tree singing that I was a baby. That I peed my pants. That I wore diapers.
I was completely confused.. I had no idea they even knew my name or why they were targeting me. My friend just sat there quietly. Probably afraid that if she said anything or drew attention to herself that they would target her too. This was my first experience with bullying. My innocence had been taken from me. Until that point, everyone had always been nice to me and I didn't know this could happen. I immediately began to wonder what *I* had done. What was wrong with *me*? What made me inferior to them?
"Don't cry." I told myself as I could feel the sting, shock and hurt welling up inside me. I wanted my mother... I wanted her to fix it and make them stop. I wished someone... anyone would make them stop! Where was the teacher? And then I began to beat myself up... if I was ready to cry and wanted my mother, then I MUST be a baby! No wonder. " Don't cry, [Lucy]! It will only make it worse."
And I began to laugh like it was the funniest joke I had ever heard. I hoped they would move on, but they didn't. Others thought it was hilarious and began singing the song too. I continued to laugh and then I looked down and saw the first tears pool in the dirt. I couldn't stop it. I was crying. Sobbing.
Recess was over and I went inside, thankfully, to a different classroom than those girls, but that wasn't the end. Because I was invited to a slumber party and so were they.
** I feel like a coward posting this on an anonymous blog, but I graduated from that same small school and people that went to school with me read my personal blog... I still feel shame over this, even though the adult in me knows it was not my fault. I'm embarrassed it happened to me and I don't want to discuss it publicly under my identity.