I apologize if the following post is choppy. It has been very difficult for me to write, but I needed to say something.
When describing my 8-year-old son, I describe him as someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. He is sensitive, loves animals, and loves trains. He prefers small groups of people to large groups and does not understand sarcasm. He is a child who is exploring life and constantly asking questions. He has so much creativity to him. He is a great kid. I want him to be happy, and I want him to feel like he can be himself because he is great as he is. However, I worry that he is losing his confidence and wants to conform to be something he is not because of being the target of bullies.
Last night, I sat and cried in my office after putting my son to bed. You see, my son won a watch this weekend at our town’s Borough Day festival, and he was so excited about his new possession. However, after last night, he refuses to wear it. Why? Well, a group of boys teased him so much about it (among other things) that he took it off. The reason: the watch is pink.
My son didn’t care that the watch was pink. He thought it was awesome. However, his feelings were so hurt last night that he doesn’t want to go through it again. He doesn’t want to be a target. He is not always comfortable in social settings as it is. The whole thing broke my heart.
Here is my son in his childlike innocence having it ripped from him by other children! He is being told that he is not okay as he is, that he needs to be something he is not. He is only 8. I know he will be presented with people who don’t like him in life, with people who will pick on him, but why does it have to start so early? Why do these children feel the need to be so cruel? Why would anyone want to destroy someone’s happiness? Why do their parents allow them to be like this? On a more global note: why does our society constantly do this, find someone who is different or weaker, and exploit them? It just makes me sick.
Tonight, I sat my son down for a heart to heart talk. I was bullied when I was younger because my clothes were second-hand, my mom was raising me by myself, I was too chubby, I was a nerd…The list just went on and on. The thing is though, is that I did not have the confidence to take a stand until I was much older. I want my son to know that he can and should take a stand NOW.
I told him that I liked him just the way he is, and I am proud of him. I told him that there will always be people who don’t like you and that those are not the people you want to be around anyways. I told him that he would find the friend he needs by doing the things he loves. I told him that he needs to be firm when a child bullies him and that if the child doesn’t leave him alone after that, that he should tell another adult. I want my son to grow into a confident young man. I want him to be comfortable with who he is. He is fine just as he is.
He is a child. He should enjoy being a child, not being picked on by other children. I think the only thing that made the other night better for him is that one of his friends was there and was not like the other boys. His mom is a friend of mine, and I am very proud of him for not being like all those other boys. My son is very thankful too.
I think we all need to teach our children tolerance and that we are all different. When I read the news about how much bullying has gotten out of control, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart even more knowing it is happening to one of my own children. It has to stop, and it has to stop now.