2 articles Tag bully

Guest Post: Mummy, Why are They Being so Mean to Me?

On the blog today, we have a guest post from Helen Neale, who writes at both kiddycharts.com, a parenting advice and tools site offering free personalised kids charts, and stickersstarsandsmiles.com, a much more personal blog where she promises to tidy up, but never quite gets around to it. She can be found far too much on social media, particularly Twitter.

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As the teacher passed, she could hear sobbing. She looked across the wooden hall floor, but couldn’t find where it was coming from. She tilted her head to try and concentrate. In the corner of the hall was a gym mat, positioned delicately against the climbing frames that the school children used in PE. She moved silently towards the sound, and as she approached the noise got louder. Leaning in, she peered behind the mat.

Standing pressed against the wall, tears streaming down her face, was a small girl.”

Thirty-five years ago, that was me.

Even after all this time, I can still remember vividly the teacher who found me, and helped me. But even now, I can sometimes still feel like that little girl, hiding from harsh and cutting words.

My time at school has shaped me into the woman I am today, I am sure of it. It has made me into someone who hates confrontation, so much that I will apologise for anything just to move on, and not create tension.

It has made me desperate to be liked. I turned to bribery in secondary school. Eventually, a close friend told me that I didn’t have to use my dinner money to buy her sweets to get her to speak to me. It was only then that I finally came to realise that I didn’t have to pay for friendship. Friendship was something that is freely given, and gratefully received.

Despite finally finding a wonderful friend, I was still singled out by some of the older girls as the weaker one; sensitive to criticism. I often wondered if I “just had the face for it” as I grew up.

I avoided catching the school bus home to my village if I could. When I did brave the ride on the first bus home, I would sit near the front away from the other children. I would then spend 45 minutes listening to the kids behind me, talking about me, calling me names, deliberately waking past, and flicking my hair, throwing my bag down the bus…anything to upset me. Never physical, but the constant niggles were enough to cut deep.

Suddenly though, it stopped.

The main culprit left the school; as simple as that.

The other players didn’t have their heart in it. Having finally told my mum, she helped too; giving me the confidence to stand up to them, to speak to the teachers and not to try and handle everything on my own. After the bully left, my bus trips started again. However, my anxiety and my wish to be liked has remained ever since.

If I had my time again, I do sincerely wish that it hadn’t happened, any of it. Of course I do. Thinking about those times, still stings my eyes.

But, the sensitivity it has instilled in my heart; how we should listen, and love, has made me into someone who has understood many of my friend’s darkest moments. Once, it helped save a life.

The determination to carry on despite being bullied lives on in me now too; that survival instinct has moulded me both personally and professionally.

I made it.

I was able to come out the other side. That has given me a confidence in myself that I didn’t think, as that little six-year old, hiding behind a gym mat, I would ever have. I am still desperate to seek approval from others, but it isn’t as all encompassing as it was when I was a child. It doesn’t choke me, it doesn’t mean I feel that every friend I have is just here for a while until they find someone else more exciting, funnier, or with more money for sweets….

However, I realised this week that I find myself seeking approval from my kids in a way that I wish I didn’t. Anything from the simple questions about whether their birthday party was any good, to whether they liked the dinner I made them. This even extends to the friends they invite to those parties, or sit down to have that dinner with them.

Despite all that I have achieved, there is still a wee six year old in there, desperate to be liked.

How have you overcome this need for approval if you have it too? Is there anyway to do so? Shall I just give up and have a biscuit?

If you or your children are experiencing bullying, please seek help. There are some wonderful organisations out there. Relevant sites in the UK include:

http://www.bullying.co.uk/

http://www.beatbullying.org/

http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/

It would be wonderful if we can lend a little support to these and other organisations supporting anti-bullying campaigns, including this campaign from fellow blogger, Gammon and Chips, in the memory of a wonderful 16-year old girl, Izzy.

Enough is enough.

Excuse the dry skin, it’s still healing

Let me start this blog post by saying that I consider myself to be a charitable person. When I was a kid, I went door-to-door selling raffle tickets for Meningitis Trust, as an adult I’ve organised events for Lupus UK, I spent a whole year giving up my Saturdays to work in a Child Contact Centre and back in May I ran Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research. A few weeks ago, I even went and had a black ribbon tattooed on my leg for melanoma at an event organised by one of Husband’s good friends where the proceeds of every tattoo was donated to cancer charities.

But today, I can unequivocally say that I’ve had a gut-full of charity. Whilst walking up the high street to do the banking for my boss, one of those obnoxious charity collectors (who get PAID to fund raise…can you explain the logic of that to me?) stepped towards me and starting shouting her script at me, telling me that it was my responsibility to end poverty in Africa. On account of the fact that a) I didn’t have time to stop and b) I have a moral objection to that type of fundraising, I politely told her that I didn’t have time to stop and carried on walking while she stood behind me muttering.

On the way back down the high street after I had run my errands and much to my complete and utter incredulity, the very same chugger (as I’m reliably informed they’re called) tried to stop me again, this time by physically blocking my path. I told her that she’d already tried to stop me and that I STILL didn’t have the time to stop, only for her to make facetious comments about me as I walked away. Now, is it just me, or does that seem a little bit out of line?

This evening, we had Husband’s father and his wife over for dinner as she’s American and we wanted to give her a nice Thanksgiving dinner and just as they were leaving the telephone rang. I answered and a man introduced himself as a caller from Cancer Research. He thanked me for my money-raising efforts for Race for Life and asked me if I’d had a nice day. Next, he asked why I’d chosen to do it and I explained about Lorraine and how she’d recently lost her fight. He expressed sympathy and proceeded with his spiel, offering me the chance to give £8 a month directly from my bank account. I explained that I couldn’t afford to add to my monthly outgoings this close to Christmas, but said that if he was able to phone back in January that I may be able to contribute. He barreled on (I must add, totally ignoring the fact that I was crying on the other end of the phone, after he decided to tell me about the wonderful new treatments for extending the lives of cancer patients) pushing me to sign up. At this point, Husband had had enough of seeing me upset and told me to put the phone down, so I interrupted the bloke for the third time and told him that I needed to hang up.

As I’ve gone to great lengths to stress, I consider myself to be a charitable soul, giving not just money but also as much time and effort as I can spare too and yet I got off of the telephone this evening feeling as though I’d been completely wrung out by this charity worker. I don’t know if it’s the policy of Cancer Research to treat people this way, and I’d never speak ill of a charity which has done so much, but I really feel that these aggressive methods of fundraising are a step too far. I feel as though I’ve been harangued in my own home, chased up and down the high street and generally treated like shit.

I won’t say that this has put me off of donating to charity, I’ll always give where I can. But I hope someone, somewhere, will read this post and maybe think about the way that they approach people. I don’t deserve to be made to feel guilty and reminded of personal grief. I’m a good person and this isn’t the way to make me part with my cash.