No U Turns in Life Either 5

In Life Either

Bullying affects families not just the child who experiences it. This is why I am continuing Mia’s story from the point of view of her brother, Cal. Those of you just beginning to follow my blog might not know who Cal is. You can click on the menu to Cal’s Story Begins to find out. You may need to click pages from the menu to reach it depending on your reader source.

I ask those of you who know my family to realize that both stories are works of fiction despite being based on my daughter’s experience with bullying. Still, I want to be clear here. Bullying really did affect our entire family much more than her diagnosis did. Damage done by any type of abuse cannot be undone, but it can get better and it can help others to avoid pitfalls.

We are all mending and just the other day my son touched my heart when he told me that his sister’s experience taught him to be tough. He has learned good comebacks to use when kids try to bully him because of this. He said my work and his sister’s experience have taught him the value of being kind to others. I am so proud of him.

I started posting outlines last January and a friend suggested I was trying to put too much in the first chapter. She was right. I do not plan to post the complete story here, but I want to share the beginning with you and get your input.

Wow! Mia is practically glowing. I guess I would be too if I were her. How many people get to hear their high school orchestra play their composition at their own graduation? It’s amazing how far she’s come in the last seven years. I still remember the horror our family went through ….

Mia, what is wrong with you? Mom did you see that? She tried to hit me with her bag. Aren’t you going to do something?

Mom asked me to please be quiet until we got home. Then she just talked to Mia instead of punishing her. Mom’s raised eyebrows and piercing green eyes greeted me in the rearview mirror, when I started to say more. She actually made me feel bad for upsetting Mia instead of defending me like I thought she would.

She did try to explain after we got home, “I’m sorry this isn’t fair to you, but for now, I have to cut her some slack. She is going through a very rough time right now, and she didn’t actually hit you. I promise I will make it up to you later, and I certainly won’t allow her to harm you. For now, it’s probably best if you try to avoid her when she is upset.”

Yes, I knew all about Mia’s former friends and how they bullied her, but Mom’s explanation was more about Mia than I liked. What about me? Does Mom really think Mia’s problem isn’t affecting me?

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried talking to Mom about Mia. Just two weeks ago, Mia punched me in the arm on the way home from school. Mom’s response then was to pull the car over and refuse to drive until we both apologized. It was so unfair! Mia started it, and I was the one who was hurt just like today. I tried talking to Dad about it, but he sided with Mom.

I have to come up with a plan to get Mom and Dad to understand that Mia’s behavior is scary, and she is destroying my social life too. I can’t even have my friends over right now because we can’t upset Mia. What is that about? I live here too!

I retreated to my room and locked the door to avoid more of Mia’s abuse. Then it hit me! I learned arbitration skills at school. I needed to apply them at home. I unzipped my black backpack, pulled out my pen and paper, and sat at my desk as I thought of what to say.

Problem List

1. I need love and support just like Mia.

2. I need to be able to have my friends over.

3. I need Mia to stop abusing me.

4. I need someone to really listen and to really hear how Mia treats me.

5. I need help with my life sometimes too. After all I’m still a kid.

6. I miss our old family, the one where we ate meals together and discussed our day and where we actually went out to dinner sometimes.

Potential Solutions

1. I know you have to give Mia extra time. I get it I really do, but I need at least one of you to be there for me too.

2. I realize Mia is fragile, but how am I supposed to maintain my friendships if I can never have anyone over?

3. This should really be number one! I never bullied Mia. She has to stop bullying me and she has to have real consequences when she does.

4. Do either of you realize the awful things she says to me or really see the hate in her eyes when she looks at me? I need you to pay attention. You have to start seeing and hearing.

5. I need to be able to come to you when I have a problem too. I still need help with homework sometimes,  and I still need to talk about my day. This has to be okay. You have to make time for me too.

6. Why can’t we still go around the table and talk about how our day went instead of just talking about how Mia’s day went?  I understand Mia does not want to go out, but can’t the three of us still go out? Can’t Ah Ma and Ah Gung come over and stay with Mia?

I feel better. I have a plan. Now all I have to do is wait for Dad to come home and find a time to talk to Mom and Dad.

My School Bully Buster Recommendations 4

My School Bully Buster Recommendations

Has your child been hurt by others’ words? Did someone say something about her choice of clothes or about her ability to answer the teacher’s questions? Has she been left out or excluded from some outing or event her “friends” attended? Do others accuse her of overreacting? Just because people have always been mean to those with differences does not mean that we have to continue to empower those who are mean or make the ones they victimize feel like the guilty ones.

The Role of Words and Actions

Recently Susan Diamond wrote a post titled Tips on Teasing. My initial reaction was one of being punched in the stomach, yet I know that wasn’t Diamond’s intention…

Click on the link above to read why word choice is important and why teachers, school counselors and school administration need to change their roles to solve the problem. Then share the link to help spread the word because your support matters!

 

More…

Reflections: Where Do I Begin? 10

The last two days I have sat in this swing trying to decide how much I want to share with you to explain why I have been MIA. I realize no matter what I say it will not fully explain everything. It is impossible to see through someone else’s eyes or to completely understand their feelings no matter how much they share.

We recently passed the one year anniversary of leaving my daughter’s former school. We also passed the one year anniversary of my brother’s first surgery due to his cancer, and it has been one year since my fall and subsequent lumbar compression fracture. We are all three still facing challenges. Yet, we are all on the road to recovery.

Those who read M’s blog know she wrote a letter to her former school on her blog around the time of the anniversary. I am so proud that she chose to do so. She released her frustration and is continuing to work toward her goals although overcoming bullying is not easy.

Her anniversary coincided with the release of Lee Hirsch’s movie Bully in local theaters. Those who have been reading my blog know that the poor response it received in Honolulu disappointed me. I sincerely hope the schools will do a better job once it is on video.

I am especially disappointed that M’s former school made no effort to take the students to see it as I encouraged them to do, but they are making baby steps toward their bullying problem according to the chaplain and the elementary school assistant dean. I know both of them have their hearts in the right place and they both still express concern for M.

The high school dean is a different story, but I will not get into that here other than to say that M. still deserves an apology from the school and my request for this has fallen on deaf ears. Still, I will not give up. A new headmaster will be arriving in July, and I hope he will see that giving my daughter a formal apology is the right thing to do.

My brother had his fourth surgery recently, but he is on the mend and hopefully in a few weeks he will have his last surgery.

I was 80% better until I had a bad virus a few weeks ago. Now I am starting over with my walks and my exercises. I have faith I will get back to 80% since it really is only reconditioning and not another injury. I am still aiming for at least 90%, if not 100%. I am taking care of myself as I promised when I joined the Oxygen Mask Project.

Overall, life is good. M. is interacting with her friends again. I had a fabulous mother’s day. M. cooked my breakfast. My hubby and son and I went to see The Avengers. M. saw it the day before with her friend. Hubby even cooked lobster for dinner, so yes, life is good and I am still grateful.