Thursday, July 13, 2006
a little bit of self pity, and a whole lotta concern (caution: non-funny post ahead)
see? I asked you guys to give me ideas for topics you'd like me to discuss, and NOBODY GAVE ME ONE. And now it's Thursday and it's my first post since MONDAY. We can't have that anymore ok? And not only that - the post i DO come up with isn't a fun one)

Let me tell you a little secret about myself (here's where the self-pity comes in). Growing up, I was not what you'd call the most popular kid in class. Well, let me be blunt. I was the UBER GEEK. Kids singled me out to pick on me, I was always picked last when it came to picking teams, yadda yadda yadda. Hurtful shit like that. And that happened all through my entire schooling life. From elementary to high school. But then something happened. I developed a shell around my feelings, and adopted the "don't give a shit" attitude. Now - I don't wear it on my shoulder and walk around with a mean look on my face... in fact - I will always try to find something pleasant to say to someone. BUT - if my friendliness is rebuffed, or someone is rude to me, out comes the 'don't give a shitter' and I tune them out. And good luck to them if they have a change of heart and try to be my friend. Fuck'em. I dealt with enough shitheads in school to ever have my feelings trampled on again. Suprisingly, ever since I since I erected (heeeeee.... I said "erected!!") those walls, I've noticed that people actually go out of their way to talk to me. Go figure. Why is that I wonder? It's weird. Who would of thunk it.

But where my concern comes in, is this: I've noticed lately that my oldest daughter comes home from camp with stories of how the kids treat her at camp that dredge up all the childhood pain. Those kids are picking on my daughter. I'm beside myself. I see her experiencing all the insults and horrible nastiness that only little kids can do, and I just want to cry. She's been at camp, and none of the kids will play with her. They call her stupid, (she's smart), they call her fat (she's not fat), they call her ugly (she's beautiful), and they do every other thing they can to belittle her and squash her confidence. I asked her what she would do when they started in on her, and she told me that she would walk away and play by herself. On Monday, one of the kids followed her, pushed her, and pulled her hair. When she started crying - that kid got a group around her and they started calling her a crybaby. I asked her where the camp counselors where, and she said that they weren't paying attention.

So she asked me what she should do. And therein lies my dilemma. A GOOD MOTHER would tell her child that she should just ignore them, they'll go away. That's what my mother always told me to do. A GOOD MOTHER would also tell her child to go stand near the counselors because the kids wouldn't follow her there and make fun of her. That's what a GOOD MOTHER would have done.

But that shit never works. I remember. I tried to ignore the kids all through school, and all they did was keep it up. They never stopped. So I gave Ashy BAD MOTHER advice. I told her that the next time one of the kids started up on her, to stop... turn around... look that child in the eyes and tell her to SHUT IT. Which is like a major bad word in my house. We're not supposed to tell people to shut up. But I've given my child permission. She was shocked. I also told her that if they pushed her, she should push back -twice as hard - all the while yelling "DON'T PUSH ME!! STOP!" I figured that would gather the attention of the counselors, and they could break up any further altercations. We also worked on retaliatory comments in case they were sniping at her.

Yes. I know. I'm a bad mom. But guys - the proper way just doesn't work. And this hasn't been just a new problem. We've been dealing with incidents like this since first grade. I've visited with the school counselors and her teachers. They've all told me, well - kids can be mean, but we really don't see any problem with Ashton, she's such a sweet child. Yeah - well, those school counselors don't see my sweet child bawling each night asking me why kids don't like her and what's wrong with her. My God. She's only 8.

So the other night I got a phone call from Ashy. She told me she had some payback time at the camp. And I heard a small bit of confidence back in her little voice. It seems the ringleader of the girls, started in on Ashy about her clothes. She told Ashton that she dressed stupid. (and for the record, Ashy was wearing a Tommy Girl shirt with a ripped out collar... it's really cute) So Ashton told me that she looked at her clothes, and told her "What-ever.... my clothes cost more than you're worth!" and turned around to leave. Which is when that little girl pulled her hair and turned her back around. Ashton said that she looked that little girl straight in the eye and said "Let...go...NOW" and the girl did - but then pushed Ashton down. So Ashton hopped up, shoved the crap out of her and knocked HER down, and then leaned over her and in Ashton's words... "she set her right". And that little girl started crying. So Ashton said "Serves you right... now leave me alone" And walked off.

I was listening to this, and I felt so sad. I asked her how she felt about it and she said she felt bad - but that at least none of them made fun of her. And we talked about it for awhile. So I went to the camp this morning, to talk to the camp administrators, when Ashton came running up to me. "Mommy!! Guess what!" She was so excited... she pulled me off to the side and told me "Mommy, those kids that were being mean to me are playing with me now!!! They're not calling me names anymore - and Tisha told me she was sorry she pulled my hair!!!" and off she flew to go play.

And so I went to work. I didn't talk with a counselor, I want to see how this is going to turn out. I want her to see that by standing up for herself, she can handle conflict. I want her to continue bringing problems to me and talking them out. I know some of you out there are saying violence is never the answer - but dammit.. it WORKED. And when I talked to her later in the day - she's HAPPY. I will have you know that what I've just told you was a LAST RESORT. I stressed to her over and over that she's to try to avoid the harrassers, or ignore them... this situation is reserved for situations where she's cornered, and adults are not available. Which is what she did.

But I still feel like a bad mom.
posted by Norman at 7:11 PM | Permalink |


  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:23:00 PM, Blogger Wide Lawns Subservient Worker

    Norman you are a wonderful mom! I am so proud of you! Kids are rotten awful things, especially girls. I was literally tortured as a child and it made me want to be a writer, but I still suffer from the wounds inflicted by the popular kids, who are all fat, white trash, red necks now, by the way. Well a lot of them are anyway. But you have to teach your kids not to be wuss's. I was a huge wuss and it didnt serve me well at all. It took me 30 years to learn to stand up for myself. At least it only took Ashy 8. Don't be sad. A book you need to read immediately is Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, which explains the pyschology behind this kind of behavior in young girls. Its disturbing and fascinating. Good luck and dont feel badly. I dont know where anyone is. No one is posting or reading my blog either. Maybe they're all on vacation.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:20:00 PM, Blogger Norman

    Thanks Lawns... I think i WILL go check out that book. She needs some help. Maybe both of us will read it. She's pretty smart and understands a lot of things on a grown-up level (sometimes)


  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:30:00 PM, Blogger Kim

    You did the right thing. I can't imagine how bad that hurt you to know she was going through what you did as a child. I was picked on some and made fun of and I (now) think that standing up for yourself can be a good thing. As long as she knows you don't normally treat people like that (and it sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders...and now a little confidence too) she will be fine. It probably did a lot of good. I hope if/when the time comes I can give my Little Man good advice like you gave your daughter.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:50:00 PM, Anonymous Aunt Tiffie

    My dad taught me to fight back when I was little and it worked very well.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:57:00 PM, Blogger Calamity H. Jane

    Sometimes we all just gotta open a big ol' can o'whoopass on the ones who try to bring us down.
    Power to little Ashton; you taught her that she is worthy of respect and that there is nothing wrong in demanding it as long as she knows that she has to pay that back to others in return and evidently, she does.

    woot, woot.

    good on ya Norman!

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 12:48:00 AM, Anonymous AFC 30K

    Good on you Noman.

    I was bullied at shool. My mother always told me to turn the other cheak (she was Roman Catholic). It was my dad who taught me how to fight back.

    I hope things get better for her from now on.

    Anyway - It's Friday, which means dress down day at work (no suit today, yeah!) and tonight Wifey and I and our friends are hitting the town.....So Horsham (where we live) beware!

    Hope you all have a great weekend.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 3:59:00 AM, Blogger Cindy

    I disagree with you. I think that was perfect advice and you are a GREAT Mom. Kids are VERY cruel. She should stand up for herself. Way to go Ashton and Norman too :)

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 4:37:00 AM, Anonymous AFC 30K

    Great, by complete coincidence I was also number 31,000......


  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 4:50:00 AM, Blogger Sandra

    Hey Norman, good advice. It's obvious she knows the difference and isn't going to turn out to be Norman's little bully girl. I had a friend that had that problem with her son at about Ashton's age and she enrolled him in the martial arts. It apparently gives kids confidence and they also learn to protect themselves. Just a thought.

    By the way, do you live anywhere near Palo Duro Canyon? Just wondered what the weather would be like there in December/January time frame. I think we'll be heading that way for winter 2007/2008, then on to Big Bend.


  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 5:22:00 AM, Blogger Linda and Denny

    45+ years later I can still hear "Fatty, fatty two by four..." And friends wonder why I've never gone back to a high school reunion. Yeah, right.

    You handled the bully situation wonderfully and it sounds like Ashton has grasped the concept of when to fight back and when to walk away. I think you paved the way for her to be a confident young woman with the capability of making many good friends in the future. Way to go, Normie.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 8:45:00 AM, Blogger Spicy Cracker


    I believe you did the right thing. Think of it this way better she do it now at a young age, rather than blow up in highschool or later on in life. Unfortunately most kids are followers and they want to be the bully and the few of us that walked away got picked on or teased. Telling her how to handle her self now, she'll look back on it many years from now and know, "My mommy taught me to stand up for myself." Weather it be right or wrong she'll always have confidence and know how to handle situations. And to top it off she'll always trust you because you helped her over come. You go Norm!

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 9:29:00 AM, Blogger pack of 2

    Why can kids be so mean? I hate that. I've never been on the recieving end of it but I remember watching it happen with the other kids and the bullies in school. I hate that that happens.

    You're not a bad mom Norm. You told her how to take care of herself. If it were my kid I probably would have said "Kick her ass!".....which wouldn't be politically correct....but whatever.

    Good for your daughter for standing her ground!!!!!


  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 10:01:00 AM, Blogger Rants from a Bee

    I was picked on when I was in the 2nd grade, but they made fun of me in a way that I never realized they were picking on me until years later when I had flashbacks. Kids can be cruel and it's funny how they don't realize it hurts people until they go through the same thing. My heart goes out to you Norm, it would have killed me for one of my kids to go through that. I'm proud of you though, you did exactly what i would have done. You didn't promote violence, you promoted confidence and having enough love for yourself to not be allowed to be treated that way. If we can't defend ourselves who will protect us? the last thing you wanted was for Ashton to believe that being treated like that is acceptable, that she should allow people to do that to her or worse that she should be dependant on someone else to protect her. You did awesome Norm and Ashton is a new hero in my book!

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Freak Magnet

    Can you send Ashton over here so she can set all the kids who teased me in school straight? She'll be here a long time.

    *sniff* damn bastards.

    On a lighter note, have you noticed the kids who get picked on grow up to be more successful adults? Just a thought.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Michael


    I am a total piece of crap.
    I am sorry I have been a bad stalker.

    Take Care

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 11:57:00 AM, Blogger Shell

    I was picked on a lot in school too until high school when I just had enough and started fighting back. After that things were a little better. Still hated school though.

    But now I'm amazed how many people remember me from high school and they say they remember that I wouldn't take any crap from certain people. Hmmmm...

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 1:18:00 PM, Blogger The Girl with Moxie

    Good for you for telling her to stand up for herself. This makes me think of a blog post I would like to write...

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 3:08:00 PM, Blogger Nap Queen

    I think your advice was great because it was a last resort. I was called pizza face in the 5th grade because I developed early and had acne. 20 years later, I think about my skin every waking moment. I wish I had called that kid horse face because he was really ugly.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 4:29:00 PM, Blogger Cacti to Cornfields

    I don't have kids yet myself, but surely I have plenty of my own ideas and ideals about child-rearing! I don't think you're a bad mom. You did what was right for YOUR child. That same advice might've gone too far with another kid, but you KNOW YOUR kid and it was the *right* advice for her. Kids needs confidence and to be able to develop their self-esteem at that young age! If this is what Ashy needed to build on those, then so be it! It'd be one thing if you had told her to go punch the bully kids in the face, but it sounds like you two had a really good discussion *and* talked about feelings both before and after. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned!!

    Growing up, I had similar stories of getting picked on. When I was like 10 or 11 (or maybe younger - I can't remember) I played on our small town's girls' softball team that was sponsored by local businesses. Somehow, I got placed on the "best" known team in this youth league, but I was probably the worst player. MY OWN TEAMMATES would "boo" at me when I got up to bat!! Talk about scarred! I never played another summer after that. Then in 3rd grade at my small grade school, I tried out for cheerleading but didn't make it because I couldn't do a damn cartwheel. Six girls had tried out for the squad, and five had made it... but me. Pretty much after that, I never tried out for sports or intramural stuff again.

    Anyway, my point is... you did the right thing. Don't ever second-guess yourself. It's all about trial and error sometimes, anyway, right? :-) Ashy will have a good story to remember and tell about fondly about how she stuck up for herself when she gets older!

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 5:24:00 PM, Anonymous Kim

    Your post made my heart hurt. My daughter is starting kindergarten this Fall and I am dreading this very thing. She gets along fine in daycare but we all remember how school went. I know it makes us tougher when we are adults but I don't want to see my kid get her heart stepped on. UGH!!!
    I think you gave her good advice.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 8:06:00 PM, Blogger Norman

    Oh my God. I was so sure that I was going to get blasted for teaching my kids 'bad ways'. But you guys are so wonderful. I mean, I KNOW you're wonderful - this just proved it all.

    Can you imagine my surprise today when I got home from work and saw all the support you guys gave us? Unbelievable. I was also very surprised to read in all your comments about how many of you experienced the same thing, and how you still remember the pain today. I do believe this is one pain that is always there.. strange how words really can hurt - huh?

    Thank you so much. It really means a lot to me, a kid that was horribly friendless when I was young - to see you boost me back up with kind words.

    I'm just hoping she has the courage to go on with her newly found confidence, because the new school year hasn't even started yet.

    Also - I'm going to go get that book that Wide Lawns told me about, and Ashy & I are going to go through it, along with other books for kids dealing with bullying and how to deal with it.

    Thanks again guys. GROUP HUG!!!!

  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 3:55:00 AM, Blogger Greg

    Norman I put my two daughter in self defence classes(Judo). It is a great confindence builder and they are able to protect themselves. I also gave them permission to kick anybodies ass who lays a finger on them. The key point if anybody touches them. I refuse to let them bully anybody with what they have learned.We can't always protect our children and we can't save them from bullies but we can prepare them on how to deal with it. I think your advice was very good. Maybe your daughter would be interested in a self defence course.


  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 9:04:00 AM, Blogger Norman

    Greg - first, thanks for the advice!! second, I'm cracking up about how you say "kick anybodies ass" and sign off with "Peace"!!


    But, yeah - that's basically what I told Ashy. It's a last resort action that she should take. I've actually thought about enrolling her in karate, but the ONE MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR in our town just got indicted for child molestation. SHIT! Damn these small towns!

  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 9:20:00 AM, Blogger pack of 2

    I think kids pick on kids that seem passive. Good for you & your daughter for figuring it out when she is still young.

    I was never picked on...I'm sure that sucks. I'm sorry you had to go through it.
    If it makes you feel better...I kicked a popular girl's ass in high school because she was being a bully & picking on a "geek" and wouldn't let the girl pass her in the lunch line....WHATEVER...I enjoyed making the drill team chica cry:) I'm sure she learned a lesson about bullying...the lesson might be a bad ass...but there will always be a bigger bad ass that could come along & kick your ass which will make you look stupid in front of the person you are trying to bully.

    I hope your kid enjoys the rest of camp!


  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 9:52:00 PM, Blogger Livey

    ditto what everyone else said.
    I'd have told her to kick ass first, then threaten.
    I'm so proud of both of you!

  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 10:12:00 PM, Blogger Stormieweather

    Norman you and Ashton are the best! I've dealt with this myself - when I was younger and with my oldest daughter. Why is it that we have to show our "Bad Ass" side to get people to respect us? I think people feel like they can walk all over us if they don't see us defending ourselves. I hate the fact that I still - to this day - have to show my attitude to some people just to get them to back the hell off! You're a very smart and caring Mom.

  • At Sunday, July 16, 2006 7:57:00 PM, Blogger Ace

    I understand, Norman. My parents, who are kind, wonderful, loving, intelligent people, always told me to turn the other cheek and be better than the kids who picked on me and stuff.

    They tried, they really did. When a much bigger kid beat the snot out of me in fifth grade, they went to the principal and threatened to press charges and everything.

    As you might guess, I got teased a lot growing up (the only Asian and only Jew growing up, you'll have this), and every now and then came home with a bruise I'd have to explain away (fell down, hit my head, whatever). I was a really small kid until about eighth grade, and then painfully thin until college.

    So one year in junior high, one kid kept picking on me and wouldn't leave me alone, he'd hit me and whatever.

    Let me tell you, the day I hauled off and clocked him, in class, no less, NO ONE every hit me again.

    I still took shit from time to time, but the playground's like the jungle, Mom. Turning the other cheek is noble, but quite frankly, might makes right.

    Good for you. Don't feel a bit of guilt. If she's that young, as long as she understands the difference between self-defense and bullying, you've saved her years of heartache. Years.

    Of course, now I'm an adult with a reputation as a hothead psychotic, but by God, nobody messes with me. I do wish I were half the saint my mother is, but when I was between 10 and 14, it really became fighting or suicide.

    This sounds way too confessional, but I hope it assuages some of your guilt. You did the right thing.

  • At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 5:35:00 PM, Blogger Norman

    Thanks Ace,

    I'm still surprised at the amount of discussion this post generated.

    BTW, I'm glad you knocked that kid off his keister!

    Bullies suck ass

  • At Monday, July 24, 2006 6:03:00 AM, Anonymous Melanie aka: Mom, Librarian, Miss Melanie the Storyteller, wife and dog lover

    I just got to this post after working my way through your entire archive! I told my sister I think she is secretly you, your stories made me laugh hysterically I can just see my sister telling me the exact stories.
    There were like a million comments I wanted to make but seeing as they would have been a year too late I held off until now.

    Just want you to know that I was teased in school, not cool enough and my parents were oblivious and unhelpful so my solution was to numb myself with drugs, alcohol and mindless sex. I wish my Mom had told me what you told your daughter right from the start. I have told my kids they ALWAYS have a right to stand up for themselves using equal force. Someone gets mouthy hit them with words, someone gets physical do whatever it takes to get them to stop. Once they stop you stop period. And they are never to be the ones to start it.

    None of my kids were teased except my middle son, Ethan, and in that one case his big brother reminded the bully what could happen to him if he messes with his little brother again.

    So this got longer then expected but I am here and now I am caught up enough that I will start commenting more : )
    Thanks for the blog I LOVE it!

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