My memories of early childhood are riddled with mean American kids, slanting their eyes with their fingers and pretending to speak Chinese. Chasing me around the schoolyard and forcing me to say certain words so they could laugh at what I now know was probably a pretty heavy accent. Long recesses spent alone with books and toys while the other kids got together to heckle me in a language that I didn’t fully understand.
I even had a teacher, in a misguided attempt to Americanize me, force me to drink milk until I threw up on the floor in front of the other kids. I can still hear her saying, “We drink milk here and you will drink it, too.” Good old Mrs. Jan Brewer. I wonder what ever happened to her. I heard she moved to Arizona or something…
When I complained to my parents, the higher priorities of keeping five growing children fed, clothed, educated, safe and – in one sister’s case – reasonably dry were hastily explained as I was ushered back to my room to start my homework so my mother could turn food for four into dinner for seven while my father studied through the night to finish college.
So, there I was left to my own devices. And you know what? Like millions of kids before me and millions of kids since…I figured it out. Somewhere I survived the bullies and to be quite frank, I developed life skills: a thicker skin, a stronger backbone, a smarter mouth, a more resilient ass and a gag reflex that is easily triggered by dairy products and racist assholes.
Listen, I get it. Bullies are different now because they got guns. I’m not talking about those kids. I’m talking about a mean bigger kid who teases your kid relentlessly and pushes his head into the toilet every now and again. That kid is a kid. Your kid is a kid. Kids gotta deal with kids. If your kid can’t handle kids, then your kid damn sho’ can’t handle life. Life will beat the hell out of your kid better’n any bully I know. Your kid has to learn to bob and weave, to tuck and roll, and, when necessary, to fight. He has to learn that there are winners and losers…and that, if he wants to be a winner, he’s gotta make that happen. Those who figure it out rise to the top!
Now it helps if you got some shit to give him to give his ass a head start. Cuz I met your kid…and well, let’s just say, I fought the urge to stick his head in the toilet myself. So, if he has a trust fund or a nice car, it’ll help.
All I know is that we are getting our first wave of adults who were once children raised by overprotective parents who turned everything into a cause and fought every battle on their behalf. I gotta say, it really sucks. They grow into squishy-bottomed grown ass folk who don’t know how to deal with any adversity at all. Who drop out at the least hint of challenge. And, of course, as red-blooded Americans, the rest of us just want to pinch their arm fat until they cry (which, trust me, doesn’t take long at all.) It’s just not good for scoiety.
Before you all cuss me out, I’ll go on the record as saying – bullying is bad. Not good. Bullies suck and nothing makes me happier than watching one get his or her ass handed back by a little mousy kid who finds within himself the resolve to stand up and fight.
But while all of this anti-bullying stuff may sound great in theory, kids have been “self-socializing” since the beginning of time. It’s adults who can never figure shit out. Granted, this could go both ways. I have visions of my little nephew, Piggy, running through his kindergarten class, wearing nothing but clam diggers and screaming “I have the conch!”…
Wow, on second thought, what the hell do I know? I don’t have no damn kids.
As you were!