My bully’s name was Stephanie. I won’t say her last name because she’s on Facebook and although enticing, I don’t want her to receive any “you suck” messages on my behalf.
In the 2nd grade, Stephanie was about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed around 125 lbs. Needless to say, she was intimidating… even to the teachers. I never understood why I was the target of her bullying. From what I can remember, I was the only one that had to bare the brunt of her misdirected anger. Believe it or not, there were days where she would walk up to me with a scowl on her face and just… shove me – No introduction – No words exchanged. She’d just shove me. Now I know what you’re thinking… Why didn’t I shove her back? Well it just wasn’t in my nature. My parents hadn’t bred me that way. The most fighting I had ever done was playing Rock ‘Em Soc ‘Em Robot. (Eighties babies know what I’m talking about.) This girl looked like she’d had to fight her whole entire life. I didn’t know how to compete with that. I was powerless.
My Mom told me that she was just jealous. Of what? I wondered. I couldn’t wrap my seven year old brain around the fact that this girl who lived in the projects with her mom wanted the life that I had. So what that both of my parents were around and we lived in a halfway decent neighborhood? All I knew was that I had to be in bed by 9:00… and that sucked.
Each day was different with Stephanie. Some days she’d be oddly giddy, others she’d be mean, and on those days, it was your best bet to stay out of her way. Things never escalated beyond a shove. I never told a teacher because she always made sure to do it when there wasn’t one around.
Years went by and Stephanie and I graduated from elementary school to middle school – from middle school to high school. I’d managed to avoid her over the years. I’d gotten a job at the local mall in an accessory store called Claire’s. I’d recently been promoted to Key Holder and was really feeling proud of myself. Things were going great. I was able to buy my own clothes and get my hair done at the hottest salon in the city. My days of being bullied were finally over… but were they?
While at work one afternoon, I was standing in the front entryway of my store greeting customers. The store directly faced the main entrance to the mall. I looked out, and who do I see walking in? You guessed it.
I tried not to make eye contact, but it was too late. She had already spotted me. My store was empty, and I had nowhere to turn. She walked towards me as if she were about to greet an old friend. She stopped in front of me… paused, and to my disbelief, she shoved me. I scrambled to catch my footing and in the process hit a rack of earrings which teetered precariously. This had gone too far. I had had enough.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I yelled. “Are you f@#king crazy, or are you just that miserable?” My outburst caught us both off guard. She raised her eyebrows in surprise and disbelief. Then she did something that I won’t forget… She smiled. Her smile said it all – ‘This chick has grown some balls.’ She was impressed. I suppose the self-confidence that I had gained from getting a job had given me the courage to stand up to my long time tormenter.
After that incident, when I’d see Stephanie in school, she’d greet me with a smirk and a shake of the head. To think that after all of these years she picked on me simply because she could. That bitch… I was glad to be off of her radar though.
From that day forward I knew that my mouth could get me out of trouble. The louder I was, the more people assumed that I wasn’t someone to mess with. It worked. To this day, I’ve never been in a physical altercation. (I’m a lover not a fighter anyway ;))
I know that in this day and age bullying is something that has become quite serious in our schools. Being a new parent, I find myself constantly thinking of ways that I can equip my children with what they need to combat potential issues and help them to overcome any bullying that they may receive. Things unfortunately don’t seem that easy anymore. It scares me when I hear of teens who kill themselves due to the torment that they receive.
I suppose the lesson that I learned from my own trial is to make sure to instill in my children the confidence that they need to simply speak up. Sometimes that’s all it takes. I also don’t think that teaching my children basic self defense is a bad idea either. Kids nowadays are crazy.
So to all of those little ‘Stephanies’ out there looking for a target – My kids aren’t having it 😉