Not Your Business.
Those are the words that greeted me very early this morning as I glared, bleary eyed at a social media site on my phone. I hadn’t slept well given someone’s dog barked all night, and because our neighbors drug business was open and apparently racking up the customers if the amount of traffic speeding by, pausing, revving their engines, and then zooming off again is anything to go from.
I was not amused with any of it. And I had a raging headache.
But these words stuck with me. I’ve thought them many times. I’ve even acted on them from time-to-time in my life. But I’ve never voiced them quite so succinctly.
They couldn’t have been more appropriate for the remainder of my day.
After popping a few pills to dull the head pain, and catching a bit of a morning nap, I bounced up to deal with phone calls from my daughters virtual school. That’s how they do things. Phone calls and emails. No parent teacher conferences. No “back to school” night fundraisers. Just endless multi-peopled phone calls and emails that never seem to produce anything of value. Kind of like the old joke about a Baptist committee … or a government contract employee … (I’ve been both. You can hold your applause til the end. Thanks.)
The best part is that the phone calls were in regard to a matter that my husband was dealing with. Only they wouldn’t call my husband because he wasn’t “listed” as the primary contact or “trained” as a learning coach.
Of course I’m not really sure what being “trained” entails. The only training I received was to be told to visit a web site, register as a user, and then start clicking buttons to see what they would do. Some training.
This morning was about as helpful. After a month of hounding us to schedule our daughter for “placement” tests, three people phoned to tell us that they are waiting to schedule the tests with us now until they can find someone to administer the tests that lives near us, and that they would call us again tomorrow to let us know more. THREE PEOPLE. THREE phone calls. Absolutely NO helpful information of any kind except to tell me that they couldn’t speak to my husband because he wasn’t on the “list”.
I know, what does any of that have to do with bullies or even to do with the meme from Facebook? I’m getting there … hang on.
My other story for the day is more troubling to me … in a parental way.
Nine months ago our daughter signed up to join a girls group. The group was supposed to be meeting in a town where my parents live over an hour away. But once my daughter was actually initiated into the group, we found out that she was supposed to be going to meeting in a completely different town, because the group in my parents town didn’t have enough girls to meet.
That was fine. It was closer for us and the night they met worked into our schedule well.
So, for six months we’ve been driving our daughter to these meetings and overnights and weekend retreats. And she’s been enjoying the time dressing up and being a girly-girl. But for these same six months, the other girls who she initially was supposed to be grouped with haven’t shown up to anything, nor have they been meeting in the other town.
We didn’t worry about it and decided to just join the group we’ve been attending.
So, tonight the group had an initiation and my daughter got to take part in it. She knew her part well and looked beautiful in her formal. The evening went great for everyone. Until it was over …
And then the girls from her original group and two of their mothers cornered my daughter demanding to know why she was participating with this group and when she was going to come back to their group. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t friendly. It was mean.
Despite being dressed in formal gowns with their hair done up in curls with high heels on their feet, they were being bullies. Plain and simple.
It made me angry. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they were no different than the school officials we dealt with that morning. They wanted to be in control of what we were doing and how we were doing it.
What right do any of these people have to bully us? What right do they have to demand that we do the things they want? These aren’t “rules” or “laws” that they were being bullies about. They are simply choices.
But they are our choices to make. Not theirs.
Since when can a dad not make decisions about school items for their kids?
And when did it become a problem for my daughter to join a social group of her choosing?
With all the hype about educating kids about bullying these days, you’d think someone would have figured out the root cause of all bullying behavior and addressed it by now. But I guess that would be too easy.
It all boils down to control.
And how will we ever fight that as long as the institutions themselves are being bullies?
It all comes down to teaching ourselves and our kids this one thing:
My Life. My choices. My Mistakes. My lessons. Not your problem.
Because, until we are all big enough to stand up and say this, and hear this, and respect this … Bullying will never end.