My guest today, Nick Sanburg, is a blogger who caught my eye as I was thinking about doing this bully theme. My daughter and I have learned so much from reading all the different stories and perspectives so far this month. Of course, she is too young for some of the posts but they have really opened up our dialog on the subject. At the very least she has learned she is not alone.
I am surprised to have gotten so many submissions from men, and even further surprised they were honest accounts of when they themselves had been bullied. One of my favorite posts to date made my daughter and I break down in tears. It was relevant to her age group and was a good reminder to her that how we choose to communicate is vital in avoiding misunderstandings. You can read that post HERE. Sometimes those who are bullied are perceived as bullies… it is a wonderful post.
Today Nick adds another perspective to the mix. Read how this dad, who had been bullied, is raising his children to handle bullies.
THE ‘V’ IN VIOLIN by Nick Sanburg
The ‘V’ in violin stands for VIOLENCE!
THUD! That was the sound of my back getting hit with a violin. The hard plastic case met my lower spine with a quick jab and stinging pain. It was MY violin being used to hit MY back. I was getting beat up with my own instrument…in class…surrounded by people…for no reason (I assume for no reason – maybe I wore a Star Trek shirt that day).
The one holding the stringed weapon was my 6th grade nemesis – Brad. Who names their kid Brad? Sounds like Chad…or Lad…or asshole. This wasn’t my first taste of bullying – but it sure was one of the more memorable ones. Before that there was Lucas – middle name probably Brad – who sucker punched me in the stomach and ran off. Before that was Brodie – sounds like Brad with an “ie” – who terrorized my brother and I when we were younger. But Brad topped them because he was hitting me with something I owned while in school. I didn’t know shit like that happened. Kids picking on kids for no reason! What the hell was going? Who was in charge? Why wasn’t this being stopped? Little did I know it wasn’t going to be the last of the bullying in my life?
How about that time I got chocked out in the hallway for just being IN the school? Or the time a kid spit on me while we sat in gym class. Or there was the time the kid grabbed my coat and chocked me…again! Or the time the kid tripped me in front of all my friends while we played football. Or the time I got teased because my parents weren’t married anymore and my mom was seeing a married man in town. Oh oh and the time the kids told my brother and I that we worshiped the devil because we didn’t go to church.
This is FUN! Each story is a painful reminder of my past. I can’t recall one time going to my parents for help or reaching out to a teacher. Most of the time I just bottled it up and waited to be at home – which wasn’t any better with parents that hated each other (but come on that’s a WHOLE OTHER BLOG – am I right or am I right?). I remember lunches in the 11th grade and being at a park near the school eating alone. Why didn’t I reach out? Even later in life I never lashed out. I got punched in the chest while a “friend” was drunk. I just stood there, took it, and left. I never had any outbursts. I never wanted revenge. I never thought to myself that the world was against me and I needed to lash out. I just took my beating and moved on.
The only thing sadder than a nerd getting picked on is a nerd getting picked on and taking it – cue sad violin music!
That is why I have taken an active interest in my kid’s school life. I worry about the same things happening to them while they are in school. I’ve noticed my son coming home and announcing to us with certain sadness that he is friends with EVERYONE! That no one picks on him. Then he talks about not wanting to play sports or do social activities with kids because – well – there are few kids that are – you know – kind of mean – BUT he is still friends with EVERYONE! I know that’s not the case. I know more than likely he is getting teased and sadly I feel like all I can do is sit and keep telling him it’s okay and to come to me for help if he does get picked on. I don’t think there is much more that can be done sometimes. I can’t be there in the school to push down the bullies. Raising a child means there is an understanding one day someone is going to make fun of them. Your job is prep them for it. Which leads me to…
My little girl Eva. She is a different story than my son. We KNOW she is getting teased and picked on. It started when she refused to wear her Superman shirts anymore. She and I have a few bonds over things like comics, football, and space. Anything not girly became a big NO NO when getting ready in the morning. She refused to put on her favorite Nebraska Husker dress because some older girls told her it looked ugly. Then the pushing and hitting started. A boy much bigger than her decided Eva was going to get picked on everyday – and I wasn’t even dressing her in Star Trek clothes. For purposes of this blog we won’t use the bully’s real name – lets call him…Brad Jr. So old BJ was a real jerk! He at one point told Eva he was going to kill all her friends…she is in kindergarten…these are 5 and 6 year old. That’s some messed up stuff! This “kid” had the heart in him to not threaten directly at her but to call out her friends. And yes we did contact the school ASAP! And it was addressed – but he continued to do other things like have other boys punch Eva in the stomach, push her down, or call her names.
Little Eva isn’t a mean kid. She has a sweet heart and I doubt she would ever hurt anyone on purpose. When contacting the school didn’t help I did what any upset father would do (I’d like to think all dads would do this because it makes me feel better). I taught her how to hold her fist IF she ever needed to use it in a fight. I explained that she should NEVER start a fight – but that if someone hurts her and no one stops it she can! I doubt she will ever punch someone – but she knows how and that makes me feel a little better. My wife and I also strive VERY hard as parents to make sure the kids express themselves thru art, clothes, and any other experience. Our hope is that they will always know who THEY are and want to show it to the world – even if that means catching hell from some. It’s a balancing act really. You prep the child to be an individual – someone above the crowd. You then teach them manners and empathy – which you explain EVERYONE has. They experience life and realize that not everyone has those skills. But you hope the manners stick and that who they are continues to live on. Because if we can keep pushing them to be who they are, to avoid and rise above the bad situations then we know we’ve done a good job.
Nick lives in wonderful Colorado. He is a husband, father of 2, and a hobby woodworker. Nick enjoys cleaning the house, trying to find time to clean the house, talking about when to clean the house, and making spreadsheets to figure out why the house is so damn messy! When that is all done he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids doing pretty much anything – from bike rides to coffee shops. He really dislikes teenagers, Wal-Mart, hipsters, 20 somethings who bar-hop all weekend and then complain about not having any “me time”, most people, and mushrooms.
His writing experience really kicked off in 2002 when he got an ‘A’ in a fiction writing class while attending a state college and has been riding the wave of that success ever since. Clearly he is running out of steam and should stick to cleaning his house. To read more poorly written blogs about the hard life of a middle aged white guy you can visit him here theburgs.wordpress.com