Satan’s Cesspool, aka Middle School

helpThere’s no sugar coating it. Middle school sucks. I had forgotten how much I hated it until my oldest daughter started 7th grade and began sharing her experiences.

It’s like a perfectly timed explosion. The moment kids reach middle school, they are immediately transported to an island of hormones, comparisons, competitiveness, domination and triangulation. The amount of strife that I’ve witnessed over the last couple of years leaves me feeling compelled to find a solution.

I’ve given my daughter all the typical advice:

  • Choose your friends wisely.
  • Be cautious and selective with your time and energy.
  • Be good to your body.
  • Stay close to God, remember that you’re never alone.
  • Don’t take on the drama around you.
  • Communicate with me often.
  • Don’t follow the crowd, find comfort in independence.

Sure, all that stuff still applies, just as it did when my mom was advising me. But today there’s a whole other level of trouble brewing. So much is happening in the lives of young people. So much that seems, for them, to be nearly life shattering if one piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit.

Last week an 8th grade girl took her own life. Gone. Her flame in the world is snuffed out and whatever light she may have shed is forever darkened. What on earth could be worth that? There’s talk of her being bullied. My heart broke, and piece by piece, fell into my stomach. Then my gut turned and I felt sick.

All I could think about was the mamas who lose their babies…then my thoughts turned back towards my own ladybugs.

There has got to be an answer, a remedy, a way to transform the experience of this tender time. We have got to move on this and not waiver in our resolve to not rest until each child feels worthy of their own light.

Bullying is nothing new. Some even say that it’s our species way of thinning the heard; the strong pick on the weak. I call BS on that. B to the S. No. Unacceptable. No excuses. Bullying is the result of pain.

Hurt people, hurt people.

Maybe the conversation should be less about the victims of bullying and how to deal with being bullied and more about the bullies themselves. Strike at the root of the problem.

The trouble is, the roots grow from seeds and getting at those seeds is a far more complicated issue. It’s societal; it’s a big soupy mess of family, expectations, abuse, lies, disappointments and who knows how many other shameful ingredients go into the recipe of a bully. But the root grows from a seed.

Can we transform the atmosphere of our children’s landscape? Can we turn their world upside down and shift gravity in a way that they can walk through a room, of their peers, and actually breathe. All of them, breathing, living and thriving together.

I think we can. Even if it starts small. Even if it starts with one bully breaking down in tears and getting to the root of why they feel the need to hurt others. Even if it starts with one tiny seed.

Seeds grow and there’s a way to germinate our seeds better, truer. There is, and I feel like I can’t rest until we find it.

One thought on “Satan’s Cesspool, aka Middle School

  1. “Strike at the root of the problem.” This is the answer. I know from experience. First, a parent must instill confidence in their child from the day they are born. Second, children have to be taught how to treat other humans. It is not innate. We are selfish beings. Third, when there is an issue, the parent of the bully must be contacted and have meeting with the parent of the child being bullied with an educational professional present. It’s a must. I know because I’ve done it.

    Here are 3 incidents I can convey of our own experience:

    1. In 3rd grade, a few boys decided to start a rumor that my oldest son was gay. He came home and ask me what it meant. I marched down to the school and told the principal that I would not tolerate this and wanted a meeting with the parents of the boys who were participating. At this age, a child should not have to even think about this when walking through school doors. The parents were contacted and it stopped. They did not want to meet with me. Of course they didn’t.

    2. In 6th grade, we moved to redneckville with my hubs job. All boys who joined the junior high football team had their PE class waved. So, most boys whether they were good or not, joined the football team. The remaining boys were characterized as misfits. My oldest son didn’t like football. He was a baseball player and thought football was the dumbest sport ever. Being an athlete, he did not fit in the PE class but he didn’t care. The football coach harassed him repeatedly about not being a football player, even saying in front of us “so I bet you take home economics too”. In the PE class, he was chosen as captain for games and he would choose everyone that no one else wanted. That is instilling how to treat everyone fairly and without bias. It comes from parenting. It is the responsibility of the parent. That being said … there was an incident. Our son came home one day and said he was accused of being a bully and received in-school suspension. Of course my hubs and I both met with the vice principal who handed out the punishment. I didn’t believe my son did what he was accused of … throwing a bullied kid on the floor in the locker room and spraying him with cologne. We were told that the mother of the boy may file charges. Once we were in the office and I insisted that we have a meeting with the parents of the accuser, his story changed. He made the whole thing up for attention. Apparently they were all jumping around because they won a game and high fiving each other. The boy fell in the midst of all the jumping around. For some reason, he decided to say my son threw him on the floor. He was so harassed by other boys outside of PE, he wanted to get back at someone but couldn’t get back at them.

    3. A bully was on the same bus as my two boys. Every day when entering our neighborhood, he would start shouting cuss words at them and asking if Jesus was going to save them from him. The bus driver did nothing. I knew the bus had camera’s so I went to the school and ask to see the footage. It turned out that the camera’s were just for show. They connected to nothing and were not on. I ask that the bully be removed. They said no because his mother worked nights and slept during the day. He would not come to school without the bus. So … I took my boys off the bus. Subjecting them to continual harassment was not proving anything or helping them. It made my life inconvenient, but my children are worth it. Their safety, their confidence, their ability to show empathy but not tolerate abuse is of upmost importance.

    I wasn’t the perfect parent by far, but I do know that neither one of my boys had a horrible junior high or high school experience. It doesn’t have to be this way. By the way, my youngest was a huge book reader, not in a sport and loved the band. My oldest quit baseball and spent his time observing surgeries and being in the band … so not exactly the most popular kids at school … nor did they care to be.

    I tell you that story because in both incidents, I as the parent took control. I showed confidence in my boys to do right. I taught them early on how to treat others and made sure they did it. It works. When children get their worth outside of the home, they will choose what makes them feel confident … even if its negative. Negative attention is attention and they don’t care as long as they get it.

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