Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bullying Used to Begin at Home!

Yep, it's the truth. Kids today are not taught how to handle bullies. And, they don't have enough siblings to learn from and come to their defense. I believe that it's the shrinking of the American family that has added to the bullying problem.

When we were kids, we bullied each other unmercifully! I feel bad about that now, but on the other hand, I think it taught us quite a few life lessons, like:
1. How to NOT react lest the bullying escalate.
2. How to have a thicker skin about meaningless things.
3. That you might be bullied today, but tomorrow it will be someone else's turn.
4. Everyone gets a turn!
5. And when it comes right down to it, your sibling will not allow anyone outside of the family to bully you!

In our family, there were 7 of us. There was plenty of bullying going on and we each got our fair share.
 Don't let our innocent faces fool you!

Me---they called me a pig because my room was so messy.
Honestly, I never could figure out how it could get like that so quickly since we had to clean our rooms every Saturday. Still, I'd hear---"Barbara, you live in a pig sty!"---from my PARENTS! They started it. The kids got in on the act by saying things like, "you're such a pig, your house is gonna stink when you grow up!" Snort, snort.

Then, when I reached puberty, they started calling me "mustachio" because hormones caused me to have a little hair on the upper lip. The name calling was worse when my friends were around.

And then there was the constant teasing----"Barbara and (insert any one of numerous boys) sitting in a tree---K-I-S-S-I-N-G" in front of said boys! Talk about embarrassing!

Ronnie---he got  it the worst. Unfortunately, for him, he was a bed wetter. He was ridiculed by the entire family relentlessly. He was also on the slight side, which didn't help.

Really, when the bullying was happening all you could do was chant---"sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" That got 'em every time. They didn't stop, though! You just had to act like it didn't bother you.

Janice--she was a little on the weird side as a kid. Unlike most kids, she didn't have an imaginary friend, she had an imaginary HORSE! Whenever she wanted to get out of something (work, meals, meeting company), she'd say she had to get outside because her horse was tied up and she needed to feed him. We all told her she was nuts. To which she would respond "well, thanks, because nuts grow on trees. Trees are nature and nature is beautiful!" See, you had to know how to handle it!

Jennifer---Next to Ronnie, she was bullied the most. Actually, she may have had it worse. She was a little on the chubby side and had to shop in the "chubby" department. Yes, it was actually called that back then! But this is the most horrible part of how we bullied her. We changed the lyrics to songs in her honor. Here's part of the real song: "Alice, where are you going? Upstairs to take a bath. Alice with legs like toothpicks and a neck like a giraffe!" We changed those lyrics to: "Jennifer, where are you going? Upstairs to take a bath---BOOM! Jennifer with legs like elephants and a neck like a hippopatomous!" We were so awful to her. I hate that we did that to her, but I'd say, I'm paying for it now!

Jeanne--Oh, my gosh! Poor Jeanne. She was on the quiet side when she was little. We convinced her she was adopted. I even convinced her that her butt was broken because it was cracked! We didn't let up until she was in tears.

Matthew---Matt was the cutest little guy, but he could get on your nerves like no one else (still does!). We were constantly telling him to "shut up, Matt!" When he got hurt, he never cried, he'd just laugh. We'd beat on him and he'd just laugh! When the kids found out he was afraid of June bugs, they literally tortured him with them. To this day, he hates June bugs. (I wasn't really in on that because I didn't like them either--but there was no way I'd let that little secret out!)

Joyce--poor Joyce. She was a baby, but something was wrong with her hair from birth. It was just about white, but all brittle and a mess. It stuck out in the back. There was no taming it. In the summer, it turned green from the chlorine in the pool water. She could never live that down. We tried telling her that she was adopted because of that, but, I guess she learned by watching us. She never fell for the bait. Actually, of all of us, she handled bullying the best. I guess we were good teachers for her!

Now here's the funny part---or maybe not so funny---as adults, we STILL bully each other! At least we can laugh about it now!
 We never let up on Jeanne's mullet! People still tell Matt to "shut up!"--he can still get on your last nerve!
In fact, one of my siblings who shall remain nameless leaned over to me at this family picnic and said, "hey Barb, when are you going to trim those nasal hairs!"---in that taunting way. You better believe I did!

None of it was very nice. But, I think in the long run, we were better off for all of that bullying. We learned a lot from it. We learned that although your siblings might tease you unmercifully, there's no one who will come to your defense faster! No one outside of the family better do or say anything about any one of us! To this day, we consider ourselves close knit and enjoy being together---which doesn't happen often enough. In fact, when the time came to settle mom's estate, it couldn't have gone smoother. That's quite a feat with 7 of us! Not a single argument. Realistically, there might be word fights now and then (mostly over politics), but it blows over quickly. Jeanne tells me all the time that I talk too much. I guess I do. But I'm just egotistical enough to think I have great stories to tell! Verbally or the written word.

Yeah, that's right! I do! But one thing I can always count on, my family will put me (and keep me) in my place! And I know that they'll take up for me if ever I need it! We all might be bullies, but we're there for each other whenever we're needed.

1 comment:

  1. That is a different way to look at bullying.
    I have 5 siblings and honestly I don't think any bullying went on.
    I remember once my younger brother started to tease my little sister (he was at that before teen age)..I told him lets take this outside cause no one picks on my siblings.
    I was surprised when my mom actually took my side!
    Needless to say, we didn't take it outside (I was a scrappy little thing, lol.)
    I came from (what is called today) a dysfunctional family, and us kids had to stick together


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