Hit Them First- My Unpopular Opinion

Bullying is not okay.

No one should ever have to go through some of the hateful and hurtful things kids (and adults) say and do to each other.

Parents should not allow their children to bully other kids.

With all those, I agree but…

I’m gonna be the unpopular person- but here it goes… 

I disagree with parents who film their children after having been bullied and post it on social media. I don’t think you’re doing it to raise awareness- I feel like it’s a “let’s see how many shares and comments I can get on social media” stunt. There. I said it.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how holding your cell phone in your child’s face during his or her most vulnerable moments and asking them to “speak out” is really going to help anyone in the long run… and you can’t really think it’s going to stop the crap from continuing. Those bullies saw that post. You think they saw that and thought “Oh, I made him cry. I better stop!” More than likely- the answer is no. Kids are mean. People are mean. Sometimes, life in general is mean.

I’ll admit, I’m no parenting expert. In fact, most days I’m barely capable of handling my own affairs, let alone those of the tiny human I am also in charge of. But I just can’t see that if or when that day comes when my sweet boy comes home in tears with bruises on his back.. or his heart, because some boys in the locker room decided to pick on him or say mean things to him, that the first thing that comes to mind is “I’m gonna grab my camera and document this moment.” No. I, like to think that I will scoop him into a hug and let him talk about it… if he wants to… and then I’m going to give him the same advice my dad gave me.

“Don’t you dare go picking fights, but if it comes down to that; hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.”  And then we are going to go to the school and inform the teachers and principal of the situation at hand and inform them that if nothing can be done about said bullies, my son has full permission to defend himself.

I’m not a violent person. I’m not a fighter. I never have been. But when I was in high school and was having some trouble with a group of girls constantly on a mission to ruin my life I remember that feeling of hopelessness. But I also remember the night it all came to a head and the first time I heard that little diddy from my dad.

My best friend was spending the night. My mom had taken my brother somewhere so my dad was charged with watching me. Around 10:30 the phone calls and texts from these girls started coming in. They wanted to fight. There were 5 of them and 2 of us. At first my friend and I were “preparing for battle” (putting boots on, and maybe some rings or something.. I mean whatever a 9th grader could think of to use as self protection.) Then I got a message on my phone (an unintentional recording on their part) talking about bringing rakes. *Nope. That’s it. I’m out. I don’t care how stupid I look, my dad is getting involved now.* By this time it was around midnight. The girls (driven by a college aged sister) showed up at my house but were met by my dad instead, who told them they needed to go on home.

I believe this was the first time my parents knew of any problems I was having at school. We filed a sheriff’s report (I had the texts and message recordings on my phone) and my parents talked to the school. But my parents are old fashioned in the sense that they believe the best way to solve a personal problem is to do it personally. During that time in my life I was meek and quiet for the most part, but my dad quoted the old book “Of Mice and Men” me time after time while the drama persisted. “Don’t start a fight, but if it’s coming to that, hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.” (no my dad doesn’t have that terrible of grammar.) The teachers and principal were given a heads up of that permission I was given.

Nothing ever actually came of that couple months of girl drama. But the fact that my parents stood back on the sidelines but were there to listen to me- and also gave me the permission to stand up for myself has stuck with me since. As I’ve grown older I hold that little quote close to me. Not in the sense that I actually think I’m going to go hit someone because they made me mad- but I have that permission to stand up for myself. Verbally or physically. I don’t have to go through life scared of others- scared of the “mean” people. I don’t have to put up with crap I truly don’t deserve. I have permission and the capability to demand better.

Now, with that permission and realization comes responsibility. You can’t turn into the bully. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what you believe in. Live an honest life. Know when to defend yourself and when to let the rain roll off your back and move on down the road. Not every action requires a reaction- but know the ones that do. Teach your kids the same.

Give your child permission to defend his or herself. Don’t just shove a phone in his face and record him in his vulnerability. Accept and harbor that vulnerable side, but encourage that strength- because like I said above. Life is mean.

Life is rough and if a man’s gonna make it he’s gotta be tough.

-Johnny Cash

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Mamas, It’s Time to Get it Together

Since the moment I found out I was pregnant I have realized how fierce and downright hateful mothers can be to each other based solely the differences in decisions and lifestyles chosen. By differences, I don’t mean neglectful- I mean the decisions each mother is faced with from the point of conception. To have an all natural birth or to be medicated, between vaccinating or not, breastfeeding or formula feeding, to be a working mom or a stay at home mom, – the decisions that each of us has a fundamental and almost moral feeling either for or against, the decisions that divide us.

Personally, I was induced and had an epidural, my little Gage has been in daycare since he was 2 months old, has been (and will continue to be) vaccinated on the CDC’s recommended schedule, and was formula fed. I personally know people who have done everything from the get go exactly the opposite of me- natural births, no vaccines, breastfed, and have never spent a minute in a full time child care facility. I know others who are somewhere in between those two extremes. Our children are all beautiful, wonderfully smart little beings who are developing right on schedule.

The point is, While I may adamantly disagree with people who do not vaccinate their babies, others will adamantly disagree with my choice to formula feed or send my child to daycare from the get go- and we each will defend our decisions with passion. We each made every decision (I assume) based on hours upon hours of on our own research- be it by parenting books, Pinterest or internet searches, etc. –  advice from families and friends, questions to our doctors or midwives, financial reasons, or based off of personal experiences. We toiled for months on how we were going to make every aspect of our baby’s life the healthiest and safest we possibly could. And when it comes right down to it, each of us made the decisions we felt in our heart was the absolute best for our child as well as our family.

By all means, advocate for what you believe to be true and right, share the information you have and the experiences you’ve had. Just do so with the understanding that we’re all doing our best- we’re all in this together. As long as your child is well fed, appropriately clothed, and most importantly well loved- everything else can be worried about later. We are raising our future together. Lift each other up, love each other, encourage each other, support each other even when you disagree.