Friday, May 23, 2014

Being picked on

One of my biggest fears as the twins entered Primary 1 was the presence of bullies in schools. I worried more about Evan than Jordan because he was going to a boys schools and boys would be boys, meaning that there would be thugs and bullies who would do stupid things.

Generally, I think his class is fine because they are all at the bottom of the food chain together. But over the last week, he's told us about a bully on the bus. It seems like the bus is the breeding ground for these little hooligans. The bus is like international air space. Not under the schools jurisdiction and not under the parents' either. It's no man's land, in transit and the bus driver cannot police a rowdy bus and drive at the same time.

This bully was unimaginatively annoying. While Evan was drinking from his bottle, he tipped the bottle so that Evan inhaled water into his nose and got it on the front of his shirt. Then took away his lunch bag and lay on Evan's lap. Another couple of boys played football with Evan's water bottle.

Evan didn't react in any way. We've told him to plainly ignore irritating or annoying behaviour and he's quite adept at doing that.

I didn't really expect to encounter such episodes for Jordan since she was in a girls' school. Unfortunately, girls can be bullies too. While their modus operandi may be different, their end point is the same; to harass and pick on some poor girl.

Jordan's being bullied but not physically like Evan; the girls pick on her (and from what we've heard, picked on others too) and ostracise her. They tell her they aren't inviting her to their parties. They make her feel left out and small. Then, there is the business of the boy in her art class that smacks her with a shoe and calls her a boy.

The incidences have raised our hackles, made all our claws come out and want their blood. Firstly what kind of parents raise kids to behave like that to other kids? Secondly, pick on kids your own size (For Evan at least). They made us dream up our fantasy revenge plans. And that is where our kids have actually taught us a couple of lessons here.

Evan has chosen to deal with the problem by telling the bully's younger brother. I asked him what good would that do. His response was that if he (Evan) told me what happens in school everyday, there was a good chance that the thug's younger brother would tell his parents stuff too and this would come up in the conversation (Evan's idea, my words here). He would also sit in the single seater so that boy could not sit next to him. It worked yesterday. We'll see how it goes today.

Jordan, while still very hurt by what her classmates have done, has elected to divide her class into friends and good friends. Friends are just people in class whom she says hi and bye to and are nice to but won't hang out with them for various reasons (i.e. they are mean or rude to her). Good friends are friends who help her, are kind to her and protect her; she does the same for them. We hope and pray that her good friends do not desert her and that she will realise that just having a few good friends around is more than enough. What surprised us was how she chose to deal with the boy from her art class. This was her recount. Verbatim.

Bully: You're a boy! Neh neh neh!
Jordan: Ssssh! The teacher is talking.
Bully: You're a boy! Pfffffht!
Jordan: SSSssssh! I'm going to tell the teacher if you don't stop it.
Bully: You're an ugly girl. Like a boy!
Jordan: Oh! Do you want a snack? I have snacks in my bag.
Bully: Huh? What snack?
Jordan: I have nice potato chips. You want?
Bully: Yes! I want.
Jordan (pretends to look in her bag): Oh sorry! The shop is closed! No more chips.
Bully: -stunned- 
So, in their own ways, they have dealt with the bullies in their lives. We don't know how effective it will be but for now, it is holding and they are calm and collected about it. If left up to us, this is what we would have loved to do.

March up to the boy and tell him "If Jordan is a boy, that must make you a girl." He also has the advantage being the boy's elder sister's teacher so he actually knows where the boy lives. Given a chance, he would probably hunt down the boy like a rabid dog and put him down, like one. He said he would do the same to the boy in Evan's bus and pour water down his clothes, laugh at him and announce to the bus full of boys that the boy peed on himself.

Wait for Evan's bus to pull up, march up the bus and yell at the boy. Demand his name and his class and tell his teacher.

For the girls that left Jordan out, no birthday goodies for them when Jordan gives out her birthday goodies to the class. Then when they wonder why, I'll tell them without the politeness that my daughter has. I'll also tell them that Elsa is actually a really ugly man in disguise.

For the art class bully, I would stand outside the classroom and wait for him to come out. Then kneel down, look him in the eye with the Ng glare and whisper very softly to him that if he ever taunted Jordan again, I would take all his art supplies and make sure he wears home every single colour he has in his bag.

Their Uncle
Send Evan to MMA class so that the next kid who bullies him will get a big surprise and live to regret it. Use the bully himself as a bat and smack his parents with him (punishment for bringing up such a kid). I never got round to telling him about Jordan.

So, like I said, our kids' responses were more measured, reasonable and mature than what we would have liked to do.

In reality, we have praised them for how they have tried to deal with the problems and explained why some children are like that. We have told them to stick with those who are nice and stay away from those who are mean. We have also used the instances as lessons of why they ought to be nice to people and be inclusive. Both of us feel (having been bullied and ostracised at some point or other) that it is the only way we can teach our children empathy and humility.

But the bottom line is that I really hate that the kids have to go through all this and I wish they didn't have to. I would physically put myself between them and the bullies like I have done with Muffin (But then again Muffin is 4 and his aggressor was 4 too so that was easy) but I can't always be there and at some point, the bullies will be taller than I am, unless I wear my 5 inch heels. All the better to slowly drill little holes into their foot with. But that's not the point. It truly is one of those situations where the things are more easily said than done.


  1. Your kids are awesome! Love the ways they dealt with the respective bullies.

  2. Tell me about it! My boy is already being bullied in boys and girls. No offence, but I realised the kids with the bad behaviour have parents who are both working. Perhaps left to their own devices or with the grandparents/maid after school, there's no proper discipline being given out. I've told my boy to look them in the eye and tell them to stop it then proceed to inform the teacher if their continue to harass him...sigh.