Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beating The Bullies....

Last week 11 year old comes in with a face like fizz. After much persuading I get the story out of her that her "friends" have been calling her names, pushing her, telling others not to play with her. The core of this is one girl. Her angry face quickly disolves into one trying hard to hold back the tears.

My face changes from concerned Mother to angry it does when one of your cubs is upset or hurting.

"I'm not going to school on Monday" she whispers. "It's too hard trying to ignore them".

Nope. Nope. Nope. I'm not having that. No first instinct is to go and find the buggers who have made my daughter cry, who have told her she is ugly, who have told her her hair is the wrong colour, who have called her names she (and they) don't really know the meaning of and grab their little necks and wring them but a) that's not allowed and b) that's not teaching my daughter how to deal with this properly.

So I ponder for a minute or two. I face this test of parenthood and consider my move.

I am always teaching my kids that the only weapon you will ever need in this world is a smart mouth and the ability to use it properly.

It's something I believe in. Know how to use your mouth and you can achieve all sorts.

So I gather 11 year old and we get in the car. 11 year old wants to know where we're going. I tell 11 year old that I will explain it all when we get back.

We pull up outside the local shop. There "Friend 1" is standing. We walk past and go into the shop. No sign of the rest of them. I purchase what I need and head back out the shop. "Friend 1" is still outside.

"Hiya Toots, have you seen Emily*?" I ask her. She answers no. "Ok babes well if you do can you tell her I was looking for her please? I'd like to speak to her about something" and we walk away.

We get back to the house and 11 year old is looking a bit panicked. "Mum why did you do that? Emily will know I've told you now". I agree and say yes she will but let's just wait and see.

A few minutes later another "friend" appears alone in the street. I open the door and go out. "Hey Hun, have you seen Emily?" I ask her. Again the answer is no. I move into second gear. "Oh ok Hun. I'll catch up with her later because I want to talk to her about something. I also want to talk to you but since you're here I won't need to look for you"

"Friend 2 " looks at me. The expression of smart ass 11 year old instantly changed to worried 11 year old.

"Ok babes, Belle has told me what happened tonight and what's been happening all week. I'm really disappointed that you have been part of that and I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to have to mention your name when I speak to the Head on Monday. I know your Mum will be annoyed and I know you'll be worried now all weekend about getting into trouble on Monday but I am annoyed and Belle is going to be worried all weekend so we're all square now"

Friend 2 is quick to point out that it was Emily. Emily started it and Emily told them to do it and Emily said she wouldn't speak to them if they spoke to Belle.

By now Friend 3 has appeared and is listening closely. "Am I getting told on?" he asks.
"Where you there? Have you been involved?" I ask him back. He answers yes. "Then I'm sorry Toots but I'll need to mention you to0". Friend 3 is quick to point out Emily started it as well!

I move up a notch. "Ok guys look, I know you're good kids, I've known you both since you were 3 years old but you know Belle is upset and she's frightened and that is not good. I know Emily can be a little sod but when did you guys decide that she was the boss? Who told her she could make the rules and the decisions for you all? If she told you all to jump of a cliff would you do it?. I don't think so. It's a shame because now you're both going to get into trouble because you let someone else make a decision for you."

Friend 2 and 3 look to the ground. I sense victory and carry on. "You know guys, in a few months time you are all going to High School. On day one and for the first few weeks you will be really pleased to see faces and friends from your Primary class until you make new friends and settle in" They are now looking up at me listening intently looking very much like the wee 3 year olds I once knew! "Remember that you all have feelings and imagine how it might be if it was you no-one was speaking to or it was you people were being told to ignore. Imagine if that's you at High School."

"That would be crap" says Friend 3.

"Yes it would" I reply. "Ok guys I'll leave you to think about it and at least now you'll be prepared to speak to the Head on Monday. Have a nice weekend guys ok?"

"Yes Jenny" they reply and walk away.

11 year old looks perplexed when I go back in. "Mum what are you doing? I don't understand. They'll go and tell Emily and she'll be really angry that she's getting into trouble"

I sit her down and begin to try and explain. "Honey, imagine you are Emily. You've been told Belle's Mum is looking for you. That the Head is going to be told what you've been up to. Two of your friends are annoyed because they might now be in trouble becuase they did what you told them too. Belle's Mum knows your Mum. Your Mum is bound to find out. How are you feeling right now? I'll tell you are panicking. You are about to start backtracking and trying to save your skin."

Belle looks puzzled and then nods "Emily is going to be worried"

I say that she will and that it's good if she is worried because now she is feeling exactly what Belle is feeling....worried, frightened and nervous.

I tell Belle to watch some tv and just give it some time.

30 minutes was all it took.

I tell Belle to answer the door. There on the doorstep are 8 "friends". I can hear the "I'm sorry's" from the lounge. I can hear the reasons why things were said and done. I can hear the excuses, the explanations, the regrets and the promises it won't happen again. They give her 2 packets of sweets they have clubbed together for and bought t the shop. I can't hear Emily though....and then..."I'm sorry Belle, I didn't mean it" and on and on it goes for several minutes as Emily finally finds her voice.

Belle turns to me and says "Mum can I go out?" I nod.

I go to the door while she is putting on her trainers. "Well look at this on my doorstep!" They all laugh. "Sorry for making you annoyed Jenny" says one voice from the back. "Yep so you should be you wee brat!" They laugh again. "I want you all to know I won't have bullying and that goes for any of you bullying each other not just Belle ok? It's not big and it's not clever. Try and remember that you've all been friends a long time. If you can't be nice to each other then stay away from each other. If you've nothing nice to say then keep it zipped ok?"

They all nod. "Good. See ya'll later"

Belle heads out.

She returns an hour or two later, soaked, bogging and beaming from ear to ear. Which is how it should be.

Later I put her to bed. "Thanks Mum. I get it now. Make the bullies feel how you feel and they are not so smart"

"Yep that's it" I say "and remember if that fails then just smack them one right in the mouth!" and I walk away and close the door leaving 11 year old in fits of laughter.

Jenny xx

Obviously Emily is a made up name and I'm glad to say it seems to have settled down and things are back to normal. Peace has prevailed and the world is a happier place. I am going to apply for a UN Peacekeeping position in due course!

Happy Birthday....

It's my gorgeous Better Half's birthday today. He's older than 40 but younger than 50. You could say he's somewhere inbetween.

So Happy Birthday Honey.

I Love You Too Much.

Jenny xx

40 Years.

So last week the phone goes and it's my Uncle. He isn't really my Uncle, he's Dad's cousin but he's all the family we have now on that side bar my Great Auntie May and she has Alzheimers and hasn't got the faintest idea who we are, and Jim has always been Uncle Jim to us.

Now it's not unusual for my Uncle to ring me. Since Dad's death (they were very close) he keeps in touch and we try and meet up when we can which is harder than is seems as he lives in Ayr and can't drive any longer due to having the hellish illness that is Parkinsons.

Anyhow he's on the phone and telling me that he's moved house. I'm shocked. Him and Auntie Margaret had a great house and they've been in it for about 20 years. Then he tells me he's bought a wee one bedroom flat in the town centre. I'm puzzled. They had a gorgeous old victorian house before with oodles of space.

Then comes the bombshell. HE has bought a one bedroom flat in the town centre. My Auntie is living elsewhere. They have seperated and are getting divorced! I am no longer shocked. I am truly flabbergasted. My Uncle and Auntie were a great couple. They have been a couple all my life and more. In fact according to my Mum they have been married for about 40 years!

40 years? That's a huge milestone in this age of throwaway marriages. Now though it is no more.
Worse still it seems to be a bitter and acrimonious split as my Auntie has an injunction out on my Uncle and he was put in Jail for breaking the injunction and going home! In Jail? He's 62 years old, disabled and can barely walk properly!

I have no idea what the hell caused this or why and really I have no wish to know. I can guess it involved shouting, arguing, general disagreeing and an element of throwing things around the house which most likely came to a head after a period fo frustration on both sides. My Uncle is not the young, lively, popular man he was in his youth. He is no longer the Regimental Sergeant major, the brave and fit soldier my Auntie married and put up with for 26 years while he was in service. My Auntie is no longer the RSM's wife. She has had her own ill health and has had to deal with the change in this man and their lifestyle.

It's about 18 years since he left the army. The house was full of army bits and pieces. It was their life. There kids were born in Germany. They moved house every few months. My Auntie was a proper Army wife. Their house was regimentally tidy and my Uncle was a proud and popular soldier. Life was ordered and planned as it always is for a family with a member serving in the forces.

It was hard for them all when it ended. When my Uncle went back onto Civvy Street. Could it really be though that 18 years later the change, the illness, the fact they are not the couple they were in their hey day has finally taken it's toll?

I think maybe so.

And it's sad.

So it seems my sister and I have misplaced another member of our family. It's unlikely we'll see my Auntie again. It's almost like a bereavment in a way.

Still onwards and upwards. We'll head through to see the old Uncle and see how he's doing. It's what Dad would do and he's so like Dad there's a wee comfort to be found in chatting to him!

Jenny xx

It's Obvious That...

I have been neglecting this here Blog in recent times.

The reason for this? Well I just can't find the time to sit here and type.

Time eh? It's the one thing in this life there definitely isn't enough of.

Today I have a spare 30 minutes before my day begins in full (meeting my Sis to go shopping, visiting my step-Daughter, taking the wee man swimming, organising a wee party for the back of 5!) so here I am. Take advantage of me while you have me people!

I will endevour to fill you in over the next 30 minutes on what's been going on.

Off I go to begin...

Jenny xx