Wow, has it really been almost a year since I posted an entry?! It doesn’t feel like that long, but then again, I don’t think about much aside from what’s right in front of me lately. There isn’t much time for anything else!! On with the show I guess!
Last night I was thinking about my family, and my mind suddenly flitted to my nieces and nephew, (as they often times tend to do because they are my world) and the fact the eldest, Ivy, is about to become a teenager, and is going into middle school next year. A familiar sense of dread hit me pretty hard at this moment. You see, middle school was particularly tough and awkward for me. My parents weren’t particularly keen on buying me the expensive, trendy clothes or letting me wear makeup (I wasn’t even allowed to shave my legs until 8th grade so you can image the horror of wearing shorts in gym class…), so to put it lightly, I was not considered popular by any means. Add to that some major self confidence issues, crazy frizzy hair that I didn’t know what to do with, and the fact that I liked comic books / video games, and you had a recipe for disaster.
Because of these bad experiences with middle school age kids and how ruthlessly cruel they can be, I started to have a mini panic attack about my niece. A million thoughts ran through my mind: “what if she’s picked on? , what can I do from over a thousand miles away of she is? should I warn her? But if I do I just might freak her out…AHHHH!!” My niece is a very soft spoken, sweet girl, who is way smarter than her age would suggest (im sure all aunts say that right, but it’s TRUE). So I feel like worrying is legitimate.
HOWEVER, a more pressing and sinister thought crept into my mind that I never considered until that very moment — what if instead of being picked on, she turns out to be the BULLY?!
Many of us don’t think about that I don’t think. We are all so worried about the precious kids in our lives being potentially picked on, that we don’t really consider the possibility of them being the bully until it’s too late, and you’re getting calls from the principle. I have to admit that this freaked me out a little. I had a ton of potential answers for helping soothe her tears if she came to me crying, but I have no idea how I would handle the other situation; if she became one of the people that had given kids like me so many painful days growing up. What do you say to that? Especially as an aunt.
I think of her like a daughter, I was very involved in helping to raise her, up until the time I moved away. More so than a lot if aunts out there due to some very extenuating circumstances, so I feel that I would immediately wonder where I went wrong. But what would I SAY?! I could go the tough route and act like I would smack her upside her head and tell to knock her dumb shit off, but I wouldn’t do that to her and I know that. I also wouldn’t just try to lecture her about how bullying is wrong, because she already knows that now and if she was bullying in spite of that knowledge, she probably wouldn’t listen anyway.
So how do we approach this type of subject with kids on both sides of the fence? Sweeping it under the rug and ignoring it has driven so many kids to awful lengths to escape it, and I will be damned if I allow someone to bully my family to that point, or allow my family to drive someone ELSE to that point either. It’s something I feel strongly about. I would just want to communicate clearly without scaring her, or making her feel like I’m lecturing.
I’m probably thinking too much about this, and she will probably end up just fine because she’s got a sharp little attitude that can withstand a lot, but it’s scary to think about when I’m so far from her that she may not even reach out. I wish more parents thought about this, then maybe we wouldn’t have such an epidemic.
I guess I’ll just have to think more about how to approach it. Maybe I’ll post an update of my, more than likely embarrassing, attempt to have a serious conversation with a 12 year old, I’m sure Ivy would love that 😉