Monday, November 7, 2011

Not Nice

"I don't like her.  She is so mean."  I had settled into one of my favorite fifth-grade subjects during recess.  My then best friend and I were busy climbing up and over, flipping and spinning on the playground equipment.

My friend took her time answering.  Finally, she said, "She's always nice to me."  She paused, not really meeting my eyes and continued, "Sometimes, Beth, you're not always nice."

It was the first time anyone had ever told me that, and I thought really long and hard about it.  In the end, I began making a bunch of changes.  It might be that "Tim and I were on the swings" and not "Tim and me," but I wasn't in English class, nor was I the English teacher, and Cheri didn't appreciate my insight into grammar during recess.  You might not get a symmetrical object if you don't cut along the folded line, but it might be okay to let the other girls find that out themselves or to show them gently instead of leaning over them and saying, "You're still doing it wrong!" I might be right and other people might be wrong, but I didn't necessarily need to tell everybody that.  I started to let people do things their way, even if it didn't make any sense to me. 

I started to smile more and talk less.

I had dealt with bullies for years, but until someone explained what I was doing wrong, I still had problems.

I learned a lot about life, myself, and parenting from that situation.  Yes, it is wrong to bully, but something's going on both ways in bullying.  If there's one bully, then deal with him.  But if there's one kid being bullied over and over, then maybe you want to approach the kid.  Trust me.  As that kid, the kid will thank you.

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