Ethan is strong. He always has been and the more involved he becomes in sports and interested in ‘working out’ the stronger he gets. But he’s a softie. John and I have often worried that he wouldn’t stand up for himself if he needed to. We’ve always told Ethan that violence isn’t the answer but if you are in danger or feel threatened it’s ok to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. That doesn’t mean laying a kid out – but by golly, don’t you stand there and let them bully you – or your brother – or anyone else.
We went to Hillridge Farms this past weekend (another post and more pics to follow). Lucas was standing 2 kids behind Ethan and the little boy in the orange kept getting in Lucas’ face. He would stare him down and loom over him. Lucas didn’t like it. At all. He was scared, closed his eyes and stepped back showing he was very uncomfortable. The kid did it repeatedly. I bit my tongue waiting for his parents to do something who were casually commenting to themselves “why does he keep doing that, it’s almost like he’s trying to be a bully”. Um, you think?
Ethan turned around, gave the kid an evil glare, grabbed his brothers arms and pulled him close behind him. He held his hands and told him “it’s ok, buddy”.
My eyes welled up in tears. In fact they are now just thinking of how proud I was. He didn’t have to push the other kid or call him names, or say anything at all. All on his own he was quick to bring his brother close and let him know he had his back. He protected his brother as you would hope any sibling would do – but to see it in action? To see his face? To know he stood up for his baby brother? I couldn’t have oozed any more pride.
Please teach your children to watch not only for each other but for their friends, their neighbors, or anyone else they see being bullied. Sometimes just giving someone a hand is all it takes to make the bully walk away. And if you have a child that tends to push others around – I BEG you to please address it NOW. Please talk with your children and explain why this behavior is not ok. Don’t talk about it once, talk about it until the behavior changes. Teach them love, not hate. Be mindful of the books, shows and video games you let them play and read. Have discussions about the news and violence they do see if they are old enough to understand (if they aren’t old enough, they shouldn’t be seeing it). Discuss the importance of gun safety and what they are intended for – not what they learn in video games and cartoons. It breaks my heart how much bullying goes on these days and its starts at such an early age. Fixing this issue begins at home. We must teach love and understanding and compassion from the beginning and KEEP TEACHING IT in our words and actions.
Too many innocent lives are being stolen because children are hurt and feel that violence is the only way to stop their pain. Too often we look past the 5 year old bully, or the 3 year old terror as if they will ‘grow out of it’ or we look past someone being bullied because we want to ‘mind our own business’. But someday that child can become a 12 year old killer or the person they bullied will feel they have no choice but to kill. Harsh statement? Perhaps. But losing children to violence in school is becoming a very harsh reality far too often and it breaks my heart.
Teach love. Promote peace. Stand up for each other. It’s the only way we will win this war against bullying.