Bullying, WriteFightGifClub, and Letting Children Flounder

Social media is supposed to be a place where you create a network and keep in contact with friends and/or like-minded people. Sometimes I worry I’m one of those people who spends too much time on various platforms. The events of last Wednesday didn’t absolve me of that worry; but it did show me that, on Twitter, I’ve found my tribe.

Bullying WriteFightGifClub and Letting Children Flounder, jamesnealbooks, james neal,The Setup:

It’s Wednesday night, and my eight year old son is supposed to be going to bed. To be fair, he tries. Unfortunately, he’s upset and wailing and I can’t get him to tell me what is going on. I’m thinking he stubbed his toe until he says this:

“I don’t want to go to school anymore. I just know my class is going to bully me all day again, every day, for the rest of the year.”

If you’re a parent, you already know how chilling and desperate that sounds. My son is only in second grade and loves to socialize. How could he not want to go to school? Who is bullying him? Why?

Oh fuck. The whys. Why didn’t I know this is happening? Why isn’t his teacher doing something about this? Why did these other kids choose mine? Why am I so useless?Bullying WriteFightGifClub and Letting Children Flounder

Why am I so fucking useless right now?

His crying lessens with lots of big hugs and telling him he’s just the coolest. He doesn’t believe he’s the coolest. If he is the coolest, why is he the one getting picked on? Pretty deep thinking for an eight year old.

I don’t know how to deal with bullying. I was bullied, my self-esteem is still affected by being bullied. How am I supposed to tell my son everything is going to be okay?

WriteFightGifClub

Yeah, I wish this was something I came up with to help my son. The reality is it’s a hashtag I came across a couple months back on Twitter. It’s a group of writers, started by two people who were slogging through Nanowrimo last November and needed a place to blow off steam. It’s still a fairly tight-knit group, but growing thanks to the founders’ creativity and the sheer number of gifs posted daily. In #WriteFightGifClub, it’s not a surprise when a thread is thousands of posts long.

If you have no idea what Nanowrimo is, that’s okay. The point here is that WriteFightGifClub is my tribe. A group of people I’ve been creating relationships with for the past two months. When I didn’t know what to do, I turned to them for help. That may sound like a strange place to go, but I needed help. NOW. And I knew somebody would be there.

Schooled By a Teacher

Lucky for me, one of the members that is online at this moment is a teacher in New Zealand. Clementine sees my post about my son being bullied, and immediately jumps into the conversation with not only practical advice, but also book recommendations for my son to read. How cool is this lady? She’s awesome. The coolest.

Clementine is telling me to visit the principal and make sure they are aware of what’s happening. It turns out a principal cares a lot about school reputation, and if you’re going to make it public that they won’t help your child, well, that’s not good in the community’s eye. Generally speaking, they don’t want a negative public view.

She also tells me to keep giving my son love and reassurance despite him not accepting it at the moment. Right now, it all hurts too much, but when he’s at school or lying in bed he’ll remember me saying those words and know I meant them.

Several other members are present for the conversation. If they don’t have anything to add to the conversation per se, they still give condolences, one even offers to kick the bullies’ asses. That makes my boy smile.

This is my tribe. The type of people I want around me. The type of person I want to be. None of them had to respond to my tweet. Not one. But so many did, and they helped me help my son. Those are real friends in my book (author pun intended).

The Takeaway

Bullying is hard on the victims. It forces them to question their worth. It forces their loved ones to question if they love well enough. I’m not an expert. I don’t have a happy ending. My boy is still going to school; and he’ll likely be called names again today. When I pick him up, I’m going to give him a big hug and tell him he’s the coolest. I’ll do it every day until he doesn’t need me to anymore.

If you’re a parent, that’s about all you can do. The bottom line is, your child has to find their own way through it. Life sucks that way. Just make sure they know you love them, especially when they flounder through the dark places.

 

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