Bullying: I don't want to be the mother of a bully nor of a victim

When I was a young girl, I was bullied by a so-called friend - the daughter of one of my mother's best friends. At the time it was called 'taking a beating' from 'friends', and everyone knew about it. My mother would tell me often 'you have to defend yourself, child!' and sometimes 'do not bother me with this again! Why don't you give her some too?' The friendship between the two mothers, was often unstable because of this, one would say to the other to not allow her daughter to use so often the orthopedic boots to kick the other, me. The mother of the 'bully' would say 'your daughter instead of running away weeping, should just defend herself! The more she shows fear, the worst!'.

I never did it, nor I, nor the dozens of other children who tried to confront her or just flee from her radar in vain only to be trapped by her powerful boots or those of her friends who belonged to a mini gang. I remember being happy, just like a coward, when I was not the target. After all, our mothers were friends! (Irony) I remember one day, introducing her to a friend of mine, and suddenly out of nowhere she punched her so precisely and in an almost cinematographic way right in the stomach . I got the message, I was angry, but I kept quiet. I survived, grew up and no, I'm not traumatized. But I could be.

Many years later when I became a mother, I decided that I would do everything to above all my daughter could feel she could count on me as a mother, a friend who would protect or give her "ammunition" to defend herself. I would not, however, be a hysterical mother as those who at the slightest thing go right back to the school to complain etc.

When my daughter was in her first year of primary school, in a beautiful sunny afternoon, I parked the car next to the school. I would pick her up to take her to the Ballet. From the outside,  I could see her so beautiful as her friends. The setting was perfect and I almost took a picture. I continued observing what seemed an idyllic moment among children. Suddenly, I notice that one of the four girls is against the wall, crying nervously. It is not my daughter the victim, is another girl. My daughter is not the main instigator, but is smiling, while the other is putting that girl nervous and tearful. I'm in shock! My daughter is a bully !! Screaming inside me, and I was about to die!

While the girl, the object of the verbal attacks of one, and the complacency of the other two was forced to flee, I followed them  on the outside of school. As if nothing had happened, my daughter and the main instigator walked through the school to then sit down and start drawing. Suddenly I call her by her full name, she smiles at me, but I'm not smiling. When she was next to the fence, I asked her directly 'why was the other girl crying?' My daughter was red as a tomato and lost her words then I harshly added 'Get your things, we have to talk.  You're not going Ballet today!'

In the car on the way back home, I was in silence. Where normally there was music and singing, now there was only the sound of disappointment. I was sad, but still wanted her to trust  me enough to tell me the truth. To admit and realize what she had done, was wrong.

Before I started talking, I traveled back in time: I remembered a time when I and my colleagues at school were the targets of psychological bullying and, one by one, out of cowardice left the 'boat' to take the side of the aggressor and his cronies. Until there was only I and another colleague, who resisted stoically. In the end, the fear took hold of me, and then I also left the 'boat'. Leaving the only real hero behind.

I have never forgotten this episode. Ever. The time when I allowed cowardice to take out the best of me. Again I survived. Strange as it may seem, and do not suffer from Stockholm syndrome, but I remember these situations with a sense of humor. But not of the time when out of cowardice, I betrayed a colleague and sided with the bullies.

Suddenly I stopped the car, turned myself back and told her everything. I told her how horrible  it is to go through what I went through, but also how I felt when I sided with those who committed acts of bullying. I remember more often of being a coward, than being kicked. That we should not keep quiet before the injustice, but neither to create it. She was on punishment two weeks, then had to apologize and for her own initiative told the other girls 'I'm your friend, but I will not agree to make someone cry ever again.'

At the time I spoke with the other two mothers, who through their speeches found my reaction rather exaggerated. With wry smiles told me  'it's too late. She will deny everything''.

Let's not criticize, it is much easier to accept that some things are just part of childhood. And yes, I may have exaggerated a little, but is it not from little that we teach them? And I could not deny what I had seen. Of course, I know my daughter, she is a model student, teachers are eager to raise the fact that she has high level of respect for others, a sense of justice and is very balanced, But I admit, this made me wonder. But I do not regret it. I love my daughter, but she is a human being who makes mistakes, and will do others as she grows. But as her mother and educator, it's my role to call her attention whenever needed. Nobody wants to be the mother of a potential bully. But neither of a victim, so communication e crucial.

When, the next day I began to scour the whole issue, both her teacher and assistants assured me that I am a mother of a child who is exemplary and the fact was that everyday it happens like that to all, without exception!' In fact,  to all without exception. To some more than others.

I admire my daughter, and sometimes fear to be raising someone with an excess of empathy and compassion. When talking about the problems between friends I tell her 'you know maybe this girl does it because she has some issues of her own and is insecure.' or 'have you ever thought that maybe it is just to get your attention?' But I feel that I am the only one doing this, although I know I am not.

But then I realize, because motherhood is learning as we go, that we adults do not like all the people who pass through our lives. That does we do not put up with whatever is thrown at us. So why force these standards on our own children? Respect for the other, and stand for yourself. In fact, school is a test for adult life and society in general. A sea of ​​experiences some good, some less good with which we learn more. We learn who we really are, when we learn how to react to less positive situations. That above all, we must follow what is right and makes us happier in the process.

In school we have numerous examples that we parents educate our children in different ways,  and I will not stop doing what feels right. Even if I am swimming against the tide. Sometimes I wonder how I can find balance. I do not want to be the mother of a bully, but do not want to be the mother of a victim. I want to be the mother of a self-empowered self-sufficient daughter, fair and happy. It is in these moments that my daughter Francisca surprises me with her resourcefulness. I show her the way, she picks up the skateboard and while sometimes falling, she also stands out.

Texto escrito originalmente em Português para o Up To Lisbon Kids |PT AQUI| by the 4/06/2015


Sónia is the founder and writer of Amniotico- Parenting, Travel and Tales. She began this blog in 2005 with two posts about parenting, the year she had daughter Francisca. Then life happened. Now since 2014 with a whole new focus on Parenting and Travel. Sonia is also an international Human Rights and Elections expert and as such has worked with the United Nations and European Union in many parts of the globe, including conflict and war torn countries while being a single mom!