By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
So last week I wrote about our struggles that we have been having with Noah and his schoolwork. That same day that my blog went live, he had a terrible day that poured over into his afternoon at home, and on into the evening and night. He was in a foul mood, and I didn’t help matters by making him sit at the dining table working on assignments that he was missing in one of his classes – by God he was NOT going to take any more zeroes on my watch! The evening dragged on, and his mood deteriorated. I kept asking him what was wrong, and his attitude just got worse, until finally he was in tears – only I didn’t know why. Bedtime of 9 PM came and went, and he still sat, crying, at the dining room table. By 9:30 PM, I think he was done with his work, but still crying, so I finally told him to just go to bed. I asked him, again, what was wrong, but only got tears. So I told him again that if he wasn’t going to tell me what the problem was, then he needed to just go on to bed, and I got up and went back into the den with Erikka.
A few minutes later, he came into the den and, still crying, sat down beside me and just melted down. My eyes got big as he leaned on my arm and sobbed; so I knew that this was more than just our crackdown on him for his schoolwork. After a few minutes, when he settled down a bit, he finally got it out that he was tired of being picked on and pushed around by kids at school. We asked if he meant in the hallway, in classrooms, or after school outside. He said sometimes in the hallway, in several classes, and sometimes after school. Now, I knew that he had been made fun of since elementary school for being smart, for wearing glasses, for having a big overbite. We, all of his parents collectively, have told him to pay no mind to those who make fun of him for being smart, because when he is finished with school, it is unlikely that he will see a majority of them again in the future. So okay, now I am going to have to go back up to the school and make ANOTHER report of bullying going on. I have absolutely NO tolerance for bullying, so I’m not one of these parents who will say, “Oh just ignore it and walk another way.” Aw hell no! Stop it from happening! Anyway, I digress. Back to the tearful chat. Noah continued, after telling us he was tired of being picked on and pushed around. He said that in one particular class, there is this “kid” who threatens to hurt him regularly, and tries to trip him every day when they are walking out of the classroom. This “kid”? A GIRL. Oh yeah, that makes it worse. When he got to telling us about what this girl has been doing, he got all worked up again. He seemed absolutely distraught to tell us that earlier that same day, the girl had taunted him…about ME. Ohhhhhh. Erikka and I glanced over his weeping head, and I thought, “Ah. Well it has finally happened.” I instantly went back to when it happened to Nicholas, but he was in high school, so the redneck who did it to him had a pretty classless name for me. So now Noah has had it happen to him, and I braced myself for it. I said, “OK son. What did she call me?” But he wouldn’t answer. “Did she call me a dyke?” No. “Did she call me a lesbo? Lezzy?” No. I was trying to avoid the worse ones, like what the kid had said to Nicholas. “Noah, did she call me a….lesbian?” Yes. He looked mortified. I had to keep myself from laughing. “Um, Noah. Do you know what that word means?” Yes. It means I am married to a woman instead of a man. “Noah, it isn’t a bad word. It isn’t an ugly word or ugly name that she called me. It is what I am. Now, she, I am sure, meant it to be ugly and was trying to be ugly, but you should not take it as such.” I asked him how he responded, which is also important, and he said he just told her that she “crossed the line.” We said that it was a very good response, rather than being hateful in return, or starting a confrontation – neither of which would make her see her wrongdoing. I told him that I would take care of it as best I can, considering that I couldn’t go to the school and thump the ignorant little twit in the head! We went on to explain to him about bullying, and that he cannot respond to other people’s bullying behavior by acting the same way. I told him that if she says anything about me again, or about our family, that he needs to respond with, “Hey, you’re crossing a line. That is my family you’re talking about, and I don’t make cracks about YOUR family. How would you like it if I started saying things about YOUR mother?” By a little after 10 PM, he had calmed down and was ready to go to bed. He seemed a bit better, having gotten it off of his chest, and awoke in an entirely different frame of mind, I think.
I got up the next day, and after seeing Noah off to school, I called the teacher of the class that he shares with this girl. After I explained to her what Noah had told me, she seemed appalled that this had happened in her classroom, under her nose, and she had not seen or heard any of it. She said that she had gone through the same thing with her own two boys, where kids were saying the same thing to them about her. I’m not sure if she was saying, in a roundabout way that she is also a lesbian, but it doesn’t matter; she sympathized and wanted me to know that she found it to be unacceptable behavior. She said that she was going to have a “character development” lesson in class to address bullying and judging each other, and make sure that they all knew that it wouldn’t be tolerated. She also said that she was going to mention it to the sixth grade counselor, and give her the heads up that I would be calling. Apparently she did, because at the end of the day Noah told me that the counselor called him in to discuss what had happened – which made me nervous since I didn’t get a chance to talk to her first. How was I to know whether or not this counselor would have a personal view about families like ours that would NOT help our boy? Fortunately, he said that she told him that he needed to ignore this girl’s meanness, because there are all kinds of families, and that his is perfectly okay, because everybody can love whomever they want to. Bravo Ms. Counselor!! And thank you, thank you, thank you! She also told him that when they return to school after Spring Break, she intended to have a word with the girl, and put some fear into her….hahahaha. Hopefully it will be a good “come to Jesus” meeting – oh to be fly on the wall in her office THAT day!
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This morning Noah told me that he wanted a Facebook page. My reaction? HA! Hell no. No way. No Facebook page until you are in high school. He asked why, and I had to explain to him that as much as he hates being bullied at school for being smart, or because of me, that it is worse when you have a Facebook page. I told him that kids now will not only bully each other at school, but that it doesn’t end there; they do it online, on Facebook, on instant messaging – and they do it meaner in the faceless arena of the Internet. As I said before, I have NO tolerance for bullying. I have seen kids do it unmercifully to each other, and as time goes on, it gets worse and worse. Kids are now killing themselves because of bullying that has happened to them. Some of those kids are gay and being bullied because of that; but others AREN’T gay, and still being bullied to death!
This is the link to a blog I wrote a year ago, last March, about bullying (in case you are interested):
If you, or someone that you know, is being bullied, don’t sit by and wait for it to get better. Do something. Call someone. Step in and say something to the bully, if you must. Don’t let someone that you love, or even someone that you remotely tolerate, be a victim of bullying. If they won’t listen to you, then direct them to someone that they might listen to. The Trevor Project is a great resource for crisis and suicide prevention, particularly among LGBT youth. Too many lives have been lost as a result of bullying. We must ALL do our part to prevent even one more.
The Trevor Lifeline
Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
All calls are toll-free and confidential.