“You’re too little to be in school!” “Hey SHORTIE!” “Angie, why don’t you stand up? Oh, YOU ARE!” “Babies can’t go to school!” “Why are you so small?”
Here’s a good one: “ANTgie! ANTgie! You’re not taller than an ANT!gie!” “Should we step on her?”
Those are just a few of the many jeers I heard while I was growing up and going to school. As a matter of fact, at 45 years old, I still get teased for being vertically challenged. At five feet tall and barely 110 pounds (sometimes), I remember using the comeback: “I may be small… but I’m SMART!”
Wellll… maybe that was just good acting! At least, that’s what Dan (my husband) would say today! Hahahaha! Lately, though, I realized that I was probably picked on just as much as the next kid for being short and full of freckles, or whatever kids found different. I bet if I have heard it once, I have heard it a hundred times: “Were you standing in front of a screen door when someone was painting?” Seriously, what’s so funny about that?
But you know what? I was NEVER scared! I was never afraid. I never felt unsafe when away from home. Even when moving away to college or to live in the big city, I knew from the very deepest corner of my soul that I was a child of God. I could feel without a doubt that I was made in HIS image… all 5 feet and every freckles to boot! I just KNEW it! And because of that, I had holy protection! 100%! Nothing could stop me!
And bullies didn’t bother me!
So, why am I scared when my little ones leave for school? Why am I afraid they may be called names? Finally, why do I worry about their safety when they leave the house? Today, I have a question for you moms: Do your children feel “safe” at school?
I’m not talking about fear of catastrophic events like tsunamis or crashing jets (although both concern Isaac). I am wondering if, as you are preparing them for just another school day, does your child feel truly safe? Can they spend the day away from home without the fear of another student losing control? Will they feel welcomed by all their fellow students? Are they learning in an environment where adults are protecting them from unnecessary threats? Is your child being harassed by a bully?
Mine are! Barely into the first semester of the school year, we have already needed to deal with two incidents with school bullies. So, while home dishing out the Pepto-bismol for the daily “tummy aches” and complaints about not wanting to go to school, for the first time, I recognized fear in our daughter’s eyes about her day at school.
Yes, fear! Coming from rural USA, a small community with loving neighbors, I was unnerved to learn that my little girl was stabbed with a sharp pencil by another student. The “incident” was calculated by the student who waited, and baited her back, literally, to his newly sharpened pencil. Granted, her injury was minuscule, but it is the behavior of the student that is also bothersome. Today it was a pencil; what would it be tomorrow or in five years? I learned that this student has been heard making threats to others and repeatedly commenting to our daughter in a menacing way; “I hate you!” Long after the mark on her back heals, a piece of her broken spirit will remain as such words tear away at her heart… and mine.
Why? Why would he hate my adorable baby girl? Seriously???? But, perhaps like your own child, mine is a good student, quiet, and well disciplined. As a mom, I will never forget this evening as I listened to her recount the incident, the walk alone with the bully to the office, the shake in her voice, and the tears in her eyes. She became the target of a bully.
So, how can we as parents empower our children to handle bullies at school? Any ideas? Just last week the US Department of education issued a letter across the country addressing school bullies and “warns schools that if they tolerate bullying and school harassment it could put them in violation of federal law.” The President also delivered a speech from the White House last week concerning this issue, warning bullies, and offering words of encouragement in “It Gets Better”.
In an effort to educate children on how to garner courage in the wake of school bullies, our community is fostering a creative dramatics program called…
Holy Boldness Batman!!
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are bold as a lion”
The word for bold in this verse means “secure, confident.” That’s just the kind of boldness the synagogue rulers saw in Peter and John as they ministered (see Acts 4:1–2).” And just the kind of boldness our children need at school.
Just let me share with you what I heard from children at a Holy Boldness workshop. A child with a speech impediment told me the kids call him a “dork”. Another overweight child said the kids call her “fatty!” A child felt teased and alone because her daddy is in jail and mom is missing. One was “hit” by a rock on the playground. Another was “smacked” with a ruler in class because he is, are you ready for this…, vertically challenged!
Moms, this was only my first week in Holy Boldness! Doesn’t it just make your heart ache? So let’s change it now! Please pray for our Holy Boldness workshop so that we may help children realize just how special they are; that
“God created man (children) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
Although we can’t actually armor our kids or have them swinging punches at school, we can equip them with powerful knowledge that they are each unique and special in the eyes of our God who loves us unconditionally, not matter how tall (or different) we are! We can assure them that because they are a part of God’s family, they have a unique protection from bullies. And, we can teach them to love and pray for each other, including the bully! Who knows? Maybe God can help us change the heart of the bully!
The bully won’t know what “hit” them!
Copyright © Angie Hott, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved