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Playing the Power Game

As I sit and contemplate what to blog about, I have to admit that my heart is heavy. Being a mom is not for the faint of heart…especially as your child nears those teen years. Today it really hit home how powerless I am to protect my child from the awfulest of enemies – his own friend.

My son is a witty, bright, friendly child. He loves sports and plays them all (fairly well) and he’s in gifted and talented classes. He’s always had tons of friends and he’s just almost pretty with his tan skin, upturned nose, and thick brown hair. The problem is he is going through an awkward stage – he’s put on weight as part of puberty and his cheeks are fairly chipmunkish which means….

he’s getting picked on. And even worse than that, it’s his best friend doing the picking.

So it really hurts him.

We spent all of today on the way home talking about it. Why his friend is singling him out. Why he’s trying to belitttle him in front of the class, calling him things like baby hippo or elephant (especially in front of girls). I can’t put my finger on it, really. The only thing I can come up with is that the game is on. You know the game. It starts being played around 6th grade and lasts until freshman year. Culling the weakest from the pack. Stealing some power from whoever you can. You remember it don’t you? We all played it. Some more successfully than others.

And it’s not much fun. And there are two ways you can go – one is to fade into the background and pray no one sees you; the other is to not go gentle into that good night…or whatever it was that Dylan Thomas said. Take the high road and refuse to play, or take the low road and get your hands dirty. I was a low road sort of gal. I once punched a girl for calling my mother fat. Then I sat on her when she called me fat. I was kinda fat, but that’s not my point. My point is that I refused to give her satisfaction.  I refused to let her take my power. So if she said I was ugly and fat, I said that she didn’t have a daddy. Yeah, I was that mean.

But meaness can get you through a lot. It makes you tough and determined, if not a little hated at times. But my son won’t hear of such things. He can’t fathom hurting his friend even though the kid is hurting him. I so love him and hate him for being that person, the person I couldn’t be at ten years old. He’s not even afraid to show his vulnerability. And he’s just as confused by the hurtful comments as he is damaged by them.

So, he’s taking the high road. And I don’t know how that’s going to work out for him. I’m afraid that it’s not going to work that well. I don’t wish to raise a kid who’s mean, but neither do I want him to take it on the chin every day and never say “boo” about it.

So I’m interested to hear what you think? How do you handle people who try to steal your power as a parent or a writer?


12 Responses

  1. I wasn’t so much of a high road taker at that age. I try to be better at it now, but hey, it’s hard not to slip.

    and I’ve seen your boy and talked to him. He’s the most amazing and smart kid you will ever chat with. He will grow out of this stage and when he does, all those other kids better watch out. He’s going to be a heartbreaker and have wit and heart to go with it.

    My husband was very shy and in the background, Liz. he was also the star football player, so don’t count your boy out as being pushed into the background because some punk kid is being a little jerk.

    Try to direct him to new friends best you can is all I know to say. and (((hugs))) I’d have a hard time not talking smack about this other kid or taking it to the kid’s parent, but it’s probably best for your son to handle it or you’ll end up embaressing him.

  2. Geesh, Liz, that’s a hard one. I raised a one chubby son and grow up to be the most humorous of pack of four.

    Explain to him a true friend doesn’t hurt a friend. And friendship only lasts if they are true. He should look to the those who accept him for the special person he is and he’ll find a friend who will remain in his life forever. Have a movie night, without the bully.

    The high is hard, but it can lead to the treasure.

    Hope things work out.

  3. Did y’all go see Diary Of A Wimpy Kid? The high road is a good thing (wished I could do it), and it might come down to if the kid is hurting your son, that your son must say, c’ya and move on. Which is painful too, but in discussing it with him, is it more painful to lose a friend who beats you up or move forward to maybe do things with others which might be out of his comfort zone but will probably lead to a better friendship and happiness.

    OTOH, the little kid trying to steal power probably has some issues in his life that makes him feel powerless, he’s jealous of your son and he needs help. But it’s not your son’s job to fix him either, and being abandoned might force him to look at himself. (thus why I asked about the movie.)

  4. Yeah, I’m more of a high-road kinda gal now. I figure what comes around, goes around. Thanks, Keri, I know you’ve met him. Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks he’s amazing.

    But, sheesh, it’s so hard with your kids.

    And, Autumn, my brothers were both big in high school. They had it rough, but have come out with the most amazing insight into life. And they are so darned funny.

    Di- I haven’t seen it yet. My kids saw it and loved the books. It’s really hard to know what to do. I said the same thing. I’d rather sit by myself then hang out with someone who treats me like that. But I guess at that age the worse thing in the world is to be alone. He has other friends, but at his school there are only 18 boys out of 80 in his grade, so it’s harder if they are all hanging together.

    It will work itself out. Sink or swim, we all go through it. I just feel kinda stuck with it.


  5. I think this type of bullying can have a lifelong impact. I was a fat kid. Still battle the weight on a daily basis. Because so much of the “kidding” (notice the quotes because that’s what everyone says…hey! I was only kidding) came from “friends and family”. And yeah, it hurt. And today, I’m not the best at trusting people and I point to the fact that if a friend can hurt you with words, think what a non-friend can do.

    I wasn’t a “take the high road” sort of gal. Today I’d probably be called one of the “mean girls.” I wish I could have taken the high road, but I struck back, held grudges, got revenge, etc. And that is not a healthy way to live life.

    I have no words of wisdom. No insights that I can give. Keep him active, get rid of the junk food and feed him right. The weight will melt off. But most importantly, don’t ever harp on his weight (unless he balloons to an unhealthy, life threatening size) He needs to know he is loved regardless of his appearance.

    Even as younger woman, I appreciated a guy’s personality as much as his looks. As I’ve gotten older, that’s more important. A guy with a sense of humor and well-developed personality is more appealing to girls than a hunk who is a hollow shell.

    Good luck. And hugs. Life is going to get very interesting for you!

  6. All very true, Cyndi. And I was there with you. I remained pretty pudgy through my freshman year of high school.

    But my best revenge was making myself good at things so that I had a niche to fill. I know Jake will be okay. He does eat well and he’d very active. He’s just going through that stage – pudgy and awkward. I know he will come out the other side just fine, but I hate, HATE the idea of him being so damaged by the little shits (pardon my French) that pick at him like they are a bunch of vultures.

    You’re right. It’s getting interesting. And it might be a lot worse before it gets better. Thanks for the advice.

  7. Good luck with your son. I hate that Bullying and picking on kids is so much worse today – I know it’s always been around but it just seems to have escalated over the last 5-10 years.

    I was a chubby kid (still am) and we had our group of misfits that hung together. The “popular” kids would talk to your face but then talk about you behind your back.

    It’s never fun. I am pretty non-confrontational and tend to take the high road.

  8. Welllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!! I am the Mim and I know what i would like to do. lol I am not a high roader either as you can probably tell. The best advise I have is “this too shall pass” It may take awhile and I know what an awesome kid my baby is. He is wonderful. AND the main thing he has going for him is, he is smart. He will figure this out and as long as it remains as it is, a little name calling etc. you have to let him handle it. Keep a thumb on it and if it seems things are getting completely out of hand then step in and do what you have to do. For now, let him handle it. He has to know that he is going to be challenged along the way and he has to deal with it. It will make him a better person. Whatever he choses to do, support him. AND if all else fails, I will step in. lol lol You don’t fool with Jane’s babies. lol

  9. Thanks, Heather. I think the high road is the politically correct choice for parents to recommend. Guess my gut instinct is not so PC sometimes.

    And, yes, mom. I get it from you. Who do you think I learned about sitting on people from? LOL! Of course, I defer to you.

    Funny thing though – I picked him up today and asked about his day, sliding in a “What about XXX?” From the back seat, my seven year old said, “Don’t worry. I told him to leave Jake alone.” Huh? Jake started laughing and said, “Everything is cool.” I asked what happened and it seems little brother (who was all ears yesterday) took it upon himself to fight his older brother’s battles. He gave a warning to the friends to “stop hurting his brother’s feelings” LOL. That kid is ferocious.

  10. Mrs. Jane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVED THE FOOD AT CONFERENCE. Can I come live with you? 😀

    And yay for the youngest. That boy too is going to be something else. Seriously, these Talley boys are going to be something else and the girls will be falling all over them.

  11. Oh, Liz. My heart breaks for you and your son. There is just no easy solution. When my daughter started 6th grade she was one of the littlest girls in the school and a bigger girl singled her out and made her life miserable. I gave her lots of extra love and support and tried to steer her in the right direction. As someone said earlier, “this too shall pass.” They are actually on speaking terms in high school, although I’d still like to pound a good deal of sense into the bully for all the tears she caused. I think you’ve done a great job so far and given him some really good advice.

    I’ve told all my kids that when someone is mean and says bad things about them it’s because the person probably has problems at home we can’t see and doesn’t like himself or the situation and is trying to relieve their own feelings of inadequacy by making someone else feel bad.

    And with the great support of his little brother I see it passing really quick. LOL

    Sending Big Hugs!!

  12. Tell your son to respond to hurtful remarks…”Does it make you feel good when you talk like that?”

    The bully will stop in his tracks, and maybe think of what he is doing.

    Tell your son to use the phrase whenever he feels hurt.

    Hugs to him, and to you.

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