Emma, life is pretty much like a nappy. You never know what you’re going to get and chances are you’re going to find yourself in sh*tty situations. But there a few things that are a given. They’re going to happen, whether you like it or not. And like dealing with that sh*tty nappy you have to be prepared.
I can tell you that you’ll grow taller and smarter and funnier. You’ll become a teenager and sprout boobs and pimples. You’ll also start your period and grow hair in various places. You’ll fall in love and you’ll fall out of it too. You’ll be dumped and you might even be the dumpee. You’ll excel in some subjects at school and you’ll probably scrape through a few others. You’ll get into trouble for being late for class and you might even bunk once or twice.
You’ll sneak your first cigarette (and hopefully decide you hate it) and you might get drunk on some sweet tasting drink with a high alcohol content. You’ll put posters on your wall of pop stars I’ve never heard of and there’s a good chance you’ll want to dress like them too.
You’ll have a BFF and pinky swear that you’ll always be friends no matter what! You’ll giggle at sleep overs til the wee hours of the morning and pretend that you’re actually sisters.
Another thing I know for sure is that you’ll come across bullies. Bullies are everywhere. They’re in movies and TV shows. Think ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘The Simpsons’. They’re in politics and on the sports field. They’re on the playground and in the classroom. You’ll find them on the bus, at varsity and even at work. There’s bullies in cyberspace too. On Facebook, My Space and on Twitter. Bullies have always been around but it seems they’ve gotten meaner and nastier and uglier.
At school I was what people call ‘an early developer’. My body kind of backfired on me. With boobs and a period in std. 5 I took a lot of flack, from girls and boys. Mother Nature wreaked havoc with me. There was nothing I could do about it and I soon became a target. Everything I did seemed to get the bullies going. When I wore my glasses in class I was teased. When I didn’t wear them and squinted and couldn’t read stuff off the board I was teased too. I was the laughing stock in my swimming costume and on the field. When I stopped all sports and gained weight I was even more of a joke.
I looked like a grown up in primary school but the verbal and physical bullying hurt me like it would any other 12 year old. High school was no different. I became more and more isolated and found myself hanging out with the ‘wrong’ kind just to have friends. Just to feel like I belonged. There was even a time I found myself on the ‘right’ side of the ‘Red Rover’ lineup, with a group of us taunting and jeering another girl. When my mom asked me why I had done it, especially because I knew how it hurtful it was, I admitted that it felt good to be on the other side. For once it wasn’t me!
I can’t protect you from them and I won’t always be able to make the hurt go away but I can tell you that bullies are people too. They’re scared and insecure. They feel threatened and out of control. They’ve learnt that this is the only way to deal with life and people. If I get this parent thing right, you’ll be confident enough to ‘take them on’ with dignity and respect. Their words and actions won’t matter because you’ll always know your true worth.
My hope for you Emma is that you never find yourself on the receiving end of a bully. But even more importantly, I hope that the smallest or tallest or different or eccentric or ‘odd’ or bespectacled or freckled or big-eared or ‘goofy’ or fat or skinny or buck-toothed or ‘dumb’ person NEVER finds themselves on the receiving end of YOUR bullying.