Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gym Shorts

Bullying. I'm pretty sure its not in Gods plan for your kids.

Mini-Dad U was only 10 when he first experienced focused bullying. I just couldn't comprehend what was going on. I had been a popular enough kid at my former school, was confident enough (before this), was a superior athlete, and could think of no sensible reason why I had become the object of taunts from these cretins (ED: I think you mean classmates). In the end, I guess it just came down to the fact that I was just the new kid. That, or the shorts. Mom, being Mom, and having a one eye on the maximum potential growth spurt possible for a preteen, had procured for me the largest pair of white gym shorts that could be stitched at the waist so they still fitted when you had doubled in size. The instant merriment that the shorts elicited from my classmates was both humiliating and galvanizing. I was still at the age when I was going to stand by my Mom, but I was "teen-quality" groaning on the inside. They were labeled the "Ten Gallon Shorts" by my class, who were all in standard length, way-too-far-up-the-thigh gym shorts. Who knew that they were the ones that would appear so ridiculous in photos viewed 20 yrs later, while I was already comfortably living out the '90's baggy look! Without that knowledge at the time though, it was rough going. The bullying began to bleed over to other areas, particularly as I was not yet able to join them on the school sports teams (another sad story, and future post). Suddenly I was THAT KID: the last picked for games, the one not invited to the birthday party, the one whose family was mocked.
R.F. and J.D., lets just say its a good thing we didn't cross paths on a basketball court when I was in my 20's. If you had any comprehension just how big, and just how angry I was to become, you might have applied a little bit more thought to what you did in Grade 5. Fortunately, I recovered and if we were to meet now, I probably wouldn't kill you. Unless you mention the shorts.....

So now I'm a Dad and for obvious reasons, I come equipt with an attuned and fully-functioning bully-detector. We don't accept sibling bullying in our home, and intend to be proactive outside. My detector is quietly blinking as the first inklings have begun to drift around my oldest. The boy is still displaying "equal-opportunity" obnoxiousness rather than targeting my son in particular, so our immediate objective is to keep it that way (and pray that the perpetrator has a maturation of heart). If the situation escalates though, I will approach his Dad early enough to attempt to nip it in the bud. I know from my own experience that (a) teaching boys to be passive and to not stand up for themselves, in combination with (b) not being engaged enough to regulate the dynamics of a social group of preteen boys with inflated egos, is nothing but a recipe for a crushed personality.

Dad U
-not happening on my watch

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