Saturday, May 24, 2014

And One More Thing. . .

I don't know why I bother to watch the news anymore, or listen to talk radio, because I can barely find any positive stories.  So, if you thought the NBA was trying to stick it to Sterling due to his private conversation, imagine my surprise when I heard this week that a mayor out in California made a comment during a council meeting wherein the topic of "bullying" came up and he basically stated that kids today need to "grow a pair" and learn to fend for themselves.

In my mind I found myself saluting this mayor for saying exactly what I've been saying all along.  I was bullied as a kid, and many of you out there were too.  Sure, you may have cried, wanted it to end, talk to your parents about it--hell, even the school probably knew you were being bullied.  Did you survive it?  Did you make it to see another day?  Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be here today writing this blog post.

To me, there's a difference between a bully giving your child the shakedown for his lunch money, or a child making rude and insensitive remarks about him or her.  "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt me."  Remember being taught that, even though I thought that was the biggest bullsh*t I'd ever heard.  That's easy to tell your child all those little cute rhymes and/or sayings, but when your ass is on the line, literally, it's not quite that simple to take it all in. Remember the kid who chased you home everyday, and then one day as your lungs were about to burst out of your chest and you reached for that doorknob, you noticed the door wouldn't open. Fear gripped your soul much like you were gripping that doorknob! Aaaw, yeah, you know the scenario and heard it all before.  That conversation your mother had with you.  "The next time you come running home because you're scared, I'm gonna lock the door and you will be forced to stand up for yourself."  You figured this lovely woman would never want to see anyone hurt her baby, and you'd be right, but your mother also wanted you to learn that she would not always be there for you either, and you have to learn to handle things on your own.

So you found yourself smack dab in the face of fear--fighting someone you were terrified of. You gave it your all!  At the end of the long drawn out battle, you were hurt, bruised and tired, and so was your opponent because you gave it to them as good as you got.  You earned some respect among your peers that day.  You may not have won the fight, but the kids finally realized you weren't quite the pushover everyone made you out to be.  Eventually, the "bullies" stopped bullying you.  And, if anyone did mess with you, they may have thought twice about it for they knew you would at least stand up to them.  That lesson your mother made you live through taught you a great deal about life.  Mommie isn't always going to be there, and more importantly, you gained some confidence you didn't realize you had.  Had your mother not forced you to stand up for yourself, would you ever have been able to do it? Only you can answer that!

Ok, parents are asking their schools and the government to get involved and do something about bullying.  I'm not so sure it's their place to do that, and, then again, I don't see what some of the things parents want to place under "bullying" even qualifies as such.  Calling your child a "faggot," "sissy," or a "bum" isn't bullying, that's just downright ignorance, cruelty and mean.  But, that's how kids are.  That's what they do!  Placing a child under the "anti-bullying" for calling your child a nasty name not only violates, in my opinion, their rights to free speech, no matter how horrible the speech may be, but it does not qualify my definition of what a "bully" is.  Oh so now kids can't talk about one another without being considered a "bully?"  You see where my problem lies?

I get that there are kids who are softer than others.  They just don't have the strength or courage to handle nor stand up to their aggressor, but the fact of the matter is, the schools can make these bogus anti-bullying laws and amendments all they want, be warned your children are being lulled into a false sense of security.  The real world don't give a sh*t about your anti-bullying rights, laws, amendments, addendums, etc.  The real world could give a f*ck, and that's real talk straight up!  It may sound harsh and cruel, which, without a doubt, it is, but the real world does not care!  Didn't a soul come to my aid, outside of my brother, who refused to let the mean girls from other school districts  'jump me' simply because they were jealous of me.  He said if there's going to be a fight, it will be fair and one-on-one, not ten on one.  I've been called a high yellow bitch and thinkin'-I'm-too-good-for-everybody! Mind you, these were labels the kids in my neighborhood put on me, but I was none of the things they said.  That's how they defined me, but it did not define who I was as a person. Did I like the name calling?  Hell no!  Did I like that some of the mean girls would take chalk and write ugly things about me and my mother on the concrete for everyone to see.  "We Hate Kim and her Mother!"  Do you know how hurtful that was to me?   I'd cry and then get angry and write it down!  Did I go in search of a gun to shoot my attackers?  No!  Did I grab the nearest kitchen knife and stab my attackers?  No!  I used my ink pen as my weapon of choice!  My family's words gave me strength.  My own words comforted me.  I refused to let those girls destroy my soul and purpose in life. Who got the last laugh, really?  "Look at me now" is what I say to all of 'em who said I wouldn't amount to sh*t!   

I remember my mother's words, as I still hear them to this day.  For every negative thing those mean girls did to me, I turned them all into a positive.  I excelled in school.  I had a great family support system, and my ultimate defense against all of them that made fun of me and my family, I wrote it all down.  I had the comfort of my words.  Wonder where my talent comes from, well there you have it.  Everything those evil girls did, I wrote poetry, I wrote short stories, I wrote plays.  You name it, I wrote it.  And who would have ever thought that those stories would have won me awards later on in life?  So, the mean girls did me a damn favor!  For it not for them, I wouldn't be the writer I am today!  But I would have never known that if these anti-bullying laws were in place when I was in school.  These horrific stories I tell helped make me the person I am today, and I am very thankful for the experience.  Can you imagine going back to your journals of when you were 7, 8 and 9 and reading your emotions back then?  Describing, with great detail, everything that was happening around you--dates, times and people!  For anyone who wonders how I came about writing, Silent Knight, they come from my reality!  Real stories from the Hood!  I took those stories and made them into a novel.  When fans tell me the book made them feel as though the characters were real, I suppose so, that's because they were real for me!

At the end of the day, I do not want to see any child hurt, teased, beat up on, attacked, etc., and I do not believe in bullying any child, or anyone for that matter, but you have to know, sooner or later, your child is going to have to come to terms that there are some things you will not and cannot avoid.  Life just doesn't work like that, and as my grandmother used to say, "who said life's fair?"  I hated when she'd say that, but she's right!  Kids making fun of other kids, although it's hurtful, isn't bullying as when you physically harm a kid.  I think this anti-bullying stuff needs to be defined in more detail instead of throwing everything a kid could possibly do under "bullying."  I don't think that's right nor fair to the one being accused, and it's an injustice to the victim as well.  What exactly are we teaching children? How to be the weakest link?  That's not cool and it's not something I'd teach my children. They have got to learn to stand up for themselves eventually, and starting them off during the formative years is the best time for them to learn these valuable lessons.

Teach your children to have a stronger constitution.  Help them learn to ignore some of the things others say.  You can't control what others do, but you damn sure can control how you react.  To me, those are the lessons I think some parents are forgetting or just leaving out all together.  It's not a good look and something needs to be done.  I'm tired of some kids going on killing sprees or killing themselves because they were "bullied" and didn't know how to handle it.  

As much as I may have murdered those mean girls in my mind's eye, I never acted on that anger, which sets me apart from those who let their anger get out of control.  I used writing as a vehicle of release.  I made my characters do things to others so I could let out my aggression of wanting to retaliate for being picked on.  Also, I learned some things as I made up scenarios which helped me deal with the constant teasing.  You need to talk to your child often on how they need to prepare themselves for the evil that others do. My mom used to give me pep talks everyday before I stepped out the door.  She'd take a look at my outfit and pick it apart.  She'd come up with every insult a kid could possibly think of and then some. Her purpose for doing that daily ritual was so when the kids would repeat some of the things she'd said, I wouldn't be bothered by it because I was prepared!  I learned to ignore their ignorance.  If you already hear the insults, you aren't as inclined to react to what someone says.  That's what many of you need to do for your kids, and if you see they aren't handling things well, you need to seek professional help.  There aren't any right or wrong answers, but please know, having these laws in schools isn't going to stop bad behavior of some kids just because you have them in place.  We have laws designed to stop all types of criminal activities, and everyday you turn on the news, someone has broken one if not all of them. 

Bottom line, you can only protect your child so much.  One way or the other, your child is going to face some type of bully or someone calling him out of his name.  It's going to be up to your child to decide how to react. Many of you may be upset with the mayor's words, but what he said was absolutely right. You can't keep your child in a bubble.  The real world is going to chew 'em up and spit 'em out.  Is that really what you want them to learn?

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

You Cannot Control What Others Do. . .
But You Can Control How YOU React!