Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Bully Factor

It's one of the facts of child rearing - eventually your child WILL be bullied. You hope it will be later rather than sooner. You hope your child will handle it well emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. But really, you hope it just won't happen at all - of course that's a pipe dream. Today was our day.

Zach was at a birthday party for his best buddy when one of the other party guests decided to bully him. I'm not sure when it started, but it apparently escalated over a toy car that Zach wanted to play with. He picked it up when the other boy tried to grab it from him. Zach tugged back but when he saw it escalating he backed of and just walked away (like we taught him) then the other boy tosses the car aside and comes back at Zach, pushing and hitting, Zach tried to walk away, but the other kid kept at it so Zach took a swing. Thankfully, the mother of the birthday boy (and one of my best friends) intervened and made bully-boy stop and apologize.

I am very proud of Zachary for how he handled himself. That may sound strange considering he took a swing at the kid, but he did everything we taught him. You walk away when someone is being a bully and unreasonable. If he pursues you or corners you, you don't escalate it to a physical confrontation, however if the bully does and you can't get away - you defend yourself.

When I asked Zachary what happened he was confused "He hates me Mommy" - that was hard to hear. We had a talk on the way home about why bullies are mean - they don't hate you, they don't like something about themselves and when they see positive characteristics in you it reminds them of their own faults and they lash out. Zachary is not perfect, but he has plenty of positive attributes and there is no reason for anyone to "hate" him. I know, I'm biased, but really.

The concept of bullies hating themselves and lashing out at others may be a bit much for him to get at this point, but I think he understood the basics - that there is nothing wrong with him and it's ok to defend yourself. That's my main concern. I remember what it was like to be bullied. It sucks, it pulls your self-esteem right down to zero. I don't want that happening to Zachary at age 6.

So yet another milestone in our journey together as a family. Zach is losing his first tooth - soon we'll have a new milestone. I'm sure we will all handle that one well too. At least it has a monetary pay out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Boy This Generation is a Bunch of Brats!

Last night my small group from church talked about living out our Christianity every day. What does that mean? Well it means acting Christ-like every day in everything you do. Stepping up to help when you see an opportunity - some one struggling with groceries on the street, a neighbor who can't rake their own leaves, actually NOT getting angry at someone who is tailgating you, but blessing them instead (ya, I struggle with that one too). A big part of our discussion was those so called "little" acts of kindness vs. the big ones like adopting an inner-city elementary school class or working for a soup kitchen, etc.

What I think it really comes down to though is living like a Christian every minute of the day, not thinking that you are doing something kind or not, but that you are just being you - a Christian, isn't that what being a Christian is? If you act "Christ-like" during church activities but not during the rest of your life - is that emulating Christ? I don't think so.

So - what does this have to do with the next generation being "brats"? Well, today I actually got "tested" on my discussion from last night. Zach's school sells hoagies every month. They have volunteers who put the hoagies together on Wednesday afternoon and people pick them up Wednesday evening beginning at 4pm. I came by a little after 4pm and the volunteers were still putting the hoagies together. So I put my things down, told Zach to go play with the other kids and asked how I could help. I saw a need - they were behind and looked stressed - it seemed natural to step up and help. The volunteers were very thankful - I mean overly thankful. I said, "well, what I'm going to see you in need and say, 'I'll be back later have fun making hoagies?" But apparently that's what several of the other parents said who stopped by to pick up their hoagie orders. Wow. Ok, well maybe they were busy.

I put on my plastic gloves and started making hoagies. Sure enough, parents started coming in to pick up their hoagies heard that we were running behind and started sighing, complaining, yelling, everything BUT offering to help. One mother in particular had been there about an hour - she never helped mind you, just watched us all work, then asked me how long we were going to be. I told her I didn't know but if she wanted to help it would go faster. Oh no, she said, she'd already worked 7 hours that day and driven a long way to get there, she was tired. Uh-huh. Let's see, the woman I was wrapping hoagies with works nights, goes to school two days a week, has two children she picks up every day at school and is at every single event I have ever seen or heard of for St. Joe's. Give me a break. But that's how the story went all evening. At one point we had about 15 parents lined up waiting for their hoagie orders complaining, talking about how horrible we all were (right in front of us), rolling eyes, making faces, etc., but not one offer of help from them.

I guess what really burns me is this is a Christian school. We send our children to this school to be in an environment of Christian love and learning. But all the school can do is re-enforce - it has to start at home. I promised Zachary when we were done picking up the hoagies we ordered that we would go on an errand to buy Hot Wheels cars (Zach had saved his own money to buy these), when we got to the school and I saw that we needed to help I told him that was more important than buying toys right then, we would go when we were done. Zach didn't like it, but that's a lesson he has to learn - sometimes others needs come before our own wants. If those 15 parents had stepped up to help rather than disparage we would have been done in a half hour. Instead we were there until 7pm. So parents, if you wonder why your or other's children are selfish, impatient, perhaps you should look to yourselves first. When you have the opportunity to help do you step up or step in it?