Bully or Bullied… that IS the question.
My posts about each of my kids always reads so differently. From the first line, this article has Cameron written all over it. I love him to death, really I do. But sometimes I fear I will be the one to cause that death. And at a very young age. Because he makes people want to punch him in the face on a daily basis. And not just me… Everyone.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, “That kid hates me,” or “I don’t know, she just doesn’t like me for some reason,” or “He always picks on me.” Really, Cameron? It’s ALWAYS someone else? Because I know for a fact the number of phone calls I’ve received from parents and school personnel that have a very different story to tell. But that’s my kid. He doesn’t take responsibility and he is an expert excuse-teller. He should run for public office.
This evening, after 9,000 excuses regarding homework had already been made, and after just as many had been offered up regarding all things swim team, my son comes out 20 minutes late from practice and still forgot his swim suit. Not that he realized it. A young boy came running out after him to tell him that he’d left his suit in the locker room.
Cameron ran inside and reemerged moments later, near tears, holding a drenched swim suit. “They put my suit in the toilet,” he cried.
“The swim team!”
“All of them?”
“No, just the ones that hate me!”
“Why do you think they hate you?”
“Because they’re mean! When they’re being jerks, I just ignore them and refuse to answer them when they speak to me.”
“Do you think you’re sending them the vibe that YOU are actually being mean when you treat them that way? This wouldn’t be the first time….”
“I’m NOT being mean! That’s why they shoved me in the locker over the summer and wouldn’t let me out!”
“The same boys?
“No, different ones.”
“So… how many people on your team don’t like you, then?”
“Everyone likes me, Mom… it’s just the ones that are jerks that don’t!”
Would you like to know how many times we’ve had this exact conversation?? Too bad, because I can’t count that high. I know that he struggles so much with making friends… and that he is terrible at reading social cues. He thinks that people like something he’s doing when they’re just tolerating his actions… so he does them even more until those same people are so frustrated that they just walk away. Or he tries to be “cool” and show off by bullying another kid and trying to get others to join in and laugh. And then he has the nerve to be offended when no one will play with him anymore.
To top it off, Cameron thinks that because he apologized, all is well and should be forgotten. Despite the fact that I’ve taught him time and time again that there are consequences for ALL actions, and that he is building up walls between himself and his peers with each act of bullying.
So, when he had the nerve to ask me if I was going to tell the coach about him getting bullied, I almost slammed the minivan to a screeching halt. Because there are several days a week when I happily dream of throwing much more than his swimming trunks into the toilet. And the only reason I’ve never held him in a locker is because, quite simply, we don’t own one. So, my response was this:
“I will absolutely not be talking to the coach about this, Cameron. YOU will do your part to make better social choices. The entire school is not “mean”, nor is the entire swim team, for that matter. Everywhere you go, there seems to be problems with bullying… and it usually starts with you. It’ll be a sad day when someone actually bullies you and no one comes to your rescue because you’ve lied and been the root cause so many times. Bullies reap bullying. Start Being Nice.”
Is this the right way to handle the bullying situation? Oh, who really knows. But what I do know for sure is that Cameron needs consistency. And I will consistently show him that his actions have consequences if it’s the last thing that I do. Will I let him get the tar beat out of him? No. Well, at least not more than a few times. (Just kidding… kind of.) However, there is no better pressure than peer pressure when it comes to molding a pre-adolescent boy’s social behavior. So I’m gonna let this one roll and see what happens.
Kinda ticked about having to do an extra load of laundry, though… I wonder if I can just ask the swim kids to keep it to the locker thing instead.
Too far? Probably…
***So, I wrote this post last night. And then this morning, my son's school calls to inform me that his kidney problem is back and in full swing, his face so swollen he can barely see. After rushing over there with medication and making sure that he was OK, I remembered this post that was scheduled to publish this afternoon... and I thought to myself, what kind of crazy woman would post such harsh things about her SICK son? I immediately felt the urge to "correct" my post, but then I stopped myself. I stopped myself because THIS is exactly my life. THIS is exactly my struggle. Every day, the frustrations. Every day, the questioning of my reactions. Every day, the Bi-polar feeling of parenthood all over again.
I vowed to be transparent through the good, the bad, and the ugly. So here it is: My kid is sick, but I'm still ticked off at him. And I cried when I got back in the car after seeing his swollen face. I'm sure each one of you can relate to this inner struggle. And that's why my heart is completely united with yours today.
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