She was a little quiet. Tomorrow's Halloween, so I'd only thought she was busy thinking about her costume--she'll be going as Wednesday Addams.
Then she told me about the incident at school.
"Hello Freak!" was scrawled acrossed her nametag when my daughter got to class today. It's simple, but this little bullying brat-hole was unaware of what they did to my daughter.
They, the bullies of the world, don't know what they really do when they use these words. They don't know the power. They don't know that these words, words intended to hurt, actually live on throughout our lives. They are burned into our selves like tattoos we do not ask to have. These words grow like monsters just under our skin and attach to our vulnerable self-confidence where they become parasites, eating away at our worth.
"Hello freak!" are the words that bring to mind people in cages, marginalized from the rest of society. As an outspoken and often unapologetically odd grown up, I've come accustomed to these types of words and wear them with pride. But this isn't about me.
This is about an 11 year-old girl in the throes of hormoneville. Your first ride with hormones is like riding a mechanical bull in your underwear in front of the world. All you can do is simply hang on. But it becomes harder when the hot branding iron of hurtful words comes in to stab at you.
The bullying thing is sometimes too hard to bear for these kids. And what can they do to protect themselves? I do not want her to fight back. We've tried "saying something nice" to each bully in hopes that it would pacify them in some way. No good. Kindness is often misconstrued as weakness, from our impirical investigation.
Telling teachers does not work. They are simply too used to these words and often forget what it was like when they were that age (note: If you are a teacher who stands up to these types of words, you have my kudos. I'd love to know which class you teach and how you fix this type of thing. Seriously. I know that this is a generalization, but until I am proved wrong, this is the only logical explanation I can come up with.).
After my daughter told me how hurt she felt. "Yanno, the freaks, nerds, dweebs, and geeks are the ones who change the world," I said. "They make the impact. They affect the way others see the world, and it's because they are different, they aren't burdened by being normal."
This works a little to change her spirits. We go through the list of bullied nerds through history. Bill Gates, Neil Gaiman, Tina Fey, Ben Stein, Einstein, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Joss Whedon. They made today what it is because they weren't hindered by normalcy. (Plus, they're mega rich.)
We have found only one steadfast approach to these types of bullies. Whenever my daughter is told nasty things from bullies, she goes to that one place, 20 years down the road...She's running late for a flight to (my daughter says London for the 70th year anniversary ::mega nerd trump!::) so she stops by a McDonald's. There, at the counter is her bully. All her bully can say is, "would you like fries with that?"
This is how we get through our bullying. This is how we deal. It may not be the best strategy, but it is ours and this vision empowers her and gives purpose and pride to who she is, and moreso, to who she will be. My daughter sees this moment clear as today and gets back to reading a comic, smiling.
We work so incredibly hard to make our children individuals, I'd hate to have something like "Hello Freak!" get in the way of progress. And today, we won.
Hurt today, fries tomorrow.
|Lest we forget....