Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Bully Factor

I was visiting another blog and one that I like very much called Teen Autism and she talked about a topic that sent me back many years ago. It’s about bullies and that this mom has to homeschool her autistic son because of the unrelenting bullying at school. I commented that, thankfully, I don’t have that going on with my son, but I certainly had with my younger brother when we were kids. He has ADD/ADHD but we didn’t know it back then (1970s-1980s); instead it seemed to be a learning disability and a bit of quirky behavior; but he just couldn’t catch a break with his fellow peers. Some of the boys in the neighborhood would be so mean and violent, too. I remember kids would make slingshots and my brother was always the human target. Sure, they wouldn’t be mean to him while I was around, but I couldn’t always be around. They would steal his bike and toss it in the woods; throw things at him in passing; and yell and jeer at him.

One day my parents had the presence of mind to send him to a psychologist, but they weren’t happy about it. I think the school psychologist suggested it, so they thought it would be best to take him. I think that my parents wanted everything to just stay simple and be okay. Then one day I was asked (perhaps told) to be the guest visitor and speaker. On that day, the psychologist asked me about my brother and what I thought about the bullying. I was in the room with both my parents and my brother and felt like I was some specimen sitting there under a microscope being examined by all. The psychologist told me that my brother thought that he embarrassed me most of the time. How dreadful. I remember that I tried to play it cool, and that I didn’t want my emotions to show. I told him that it wasn’t a big deal to me that he was teased. I lied. But I didn’t want to tell the psychologist, my brother and my parents, for that matter, that I felt bad for him (and for me) that I had to witness kids mocking him behind his back. I didn’t want to tell them that I remembered the day that my brother rode his bike to McDonalds to get us both a burger and fries, and that he came back with barely anything left in his bag because the bullies got him. That I wanted to run to my room and cry my eyes out because this poor kid couldn’t even take a bike ride without being on some bully’s radar. Did he cry or complain? No. He just accepted it as if it were a mere fact of life. He told me, most matter-of-factly, that “they were after me and I couldn’t make it home with the full bag” of goodies.

I don’t know exactly when it ended. If the inauguration into manhood thwarted the bullies and that they had just found something better to do like “date” and “girls.” I think girls had something to do with it. In high school I had good friends and when my brother became a freshman, the rules changed. My brother became off limits in respect, perhaps, to his older sister: trust me, there were comments. But one of the most interesting days was when my brother’s number one adversary (if not the leader of the bullying pack himself) offered to walk with my brother, as a friend, the half mile from the school bus stop to home and, from what I understood, they had a nice greeting, shared some good peer conversation and ended on this high note: “By the way, tell your sister that I like her.” Who had the power now, baby!! ;)

1 comment:

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Hi Holly,

Thanks very much for the link. I wrote a comment here when you first posted this, but it appears that it did not save properly, so I thought I'd try again!

Best wishes,
Tanya