Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peace, not bullying

     I chose a picture of my father's Peace rose to begin today's blog. Peace at all cost. Choose peace. Make love not war. Peace be with you. Sounds good and simple doesn't it? But for many of today's young people it isn't easy to keep the peace. Young kids on a bus minding their own business. Something you say, or maybe what you're wearing that particular day sparks another child to hurl insult after insult upon you. Perhaps even hitting you, or spitting on you. How does one keep peace in such a situation?
     I share my own tale with you. One that is very painful for me to remember. I was in sixth grade in a newer school. My grandmother had a border, Phil, who lived with her who was more like an uncle to me. He asked my friend Patty and I if we'd like to go to the playground at another school I'd attended. Well, of course, we wanted to.
     When we arrived, my friend went off to the swings, while I chose to climb a set of monkey bars that resembled a space ship, I believe. All of a sudden, at least three older children came over to me and began taunting me with lewd suggestions. Looking frantically around, I could see Phil way across the playground talking with some people, my friend Patty completely oblivious to me. My heart pounded, my palms grew sweaty. I wanted to run, but found myself rooted to the spot. After several torturous moments which may have felt much longer than they were, Patty sauntered over to me and said, "Phil says we're leaving." The most welcome words I'd ever heard.
     It didn't end there however. For the girl who was with this group located me in school. Her words to me on a daily basis were, "I'm gonna beat you up." One time while swimming in a children's pool in Patty's side yard, the girl and her horrid gang walked by noticing us innocently playing in the pool. Once again, she accosted me with her terrible words and insults.
     I was a peace lover. I knew nothing of fights and bullying, angry words or quick retorts. I endured best I could daily this barrage of malice. I dreaded school, my stomach clenched and heaved and I wished myself dead many a time.
     As fortune would have it, a very tough girl heard the taunting one day. We weren't friends, but something about me must have touched a soft side of her. She warned the other girl to leave me alone and said "She's alright," referring to me. Time passed as it does, and I never was hit. Though it didn't make it any easier, I retreated into myself and my shyness even more. My mom was hospitalized at that time, so I was unable to talk with her about all that had been going on. I found my solace in make-believe: Books, television and pretend; a vivid imagination which carried me through. And the peace remained.
     Choose peace. Don't start trouble. Endure and carry on. Ignore if you can, report if you need to. I wish I'd been brave enough, or known enough to report this girl to the authorities in my school. Without my mom's guidance at the time, I was unsure of what to do. But now I do know, and it wouldn't be to shamefully carry the weight and burden of torturous insult day after day. Seek a trusted guidance counselor or other family member. But do it. Talk to them. They may have gone through it as well.

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