My second daughter, Jamie, was a cheerleader, gymnast and social butterfly. She got good grades in school. Then bullying reared its ugly head in seventh grade. We’d taken a few of her friends on a weekend ski trip and by Monday she was invisible to them. The phone stopped ringing. It had been decided by the “lead cool bully” that she was no longer part of the group. The other girls obeyed the leader.
It wasn’t unusual for the girls to have squabbles. Usually they worked things out within a few days, but not this time. It was months of abuse. Her grades plummeted. She didn’t want to leave her room. She only confided in her older sister. I called her teacher to discuss the problem. She was aware of the tensions. She planned to address both classes. A week later, nothing had changed.
I went to the principal. She ordered a counseling team to meet twice a week with both classes. She reported that the girls were open and sharing in these sessions. She was hopeful this was progress and things would get resolved. Friendships would be re-connected. They were not. I reminded her that we were now paying for our daughter to be abused daily. We considered changing schools if things didn’t improve.
One night I picked up a pizza and the mom of Jamie’s former best friend stopped to say hello. She told me she was so sorry to hear Jamie was picked up by the police for shoplifting last week. I was shocked! “She hasn’t left her room in two months! I could only hope she’d go shopping!” She told me the rumor was all over school. Other rumors were swirling, as well.
I’d had enough. I was tired of this, frustrated and this insanity needed to stop. I did the unthinkable and invited ten mothers of the bullies for tea. My anxiety level was at a ten. I spent the morning in the bathroom. On my second roll of toilet tissue, I worried that they would gang up on me, scream and yell. What if they were as nasty as their daughters? My anxiety level was now a fifteen.
At that moment I realized how my daughter must feel every day at school. I was determined to handle this for her sake. This thought gave me courage. I could do this for her. This bullying had taken a huge toll on our family and it was going to stop.
One by one they arrived at my door. I thought I should have sprinkled valium in their Danish to keep things calm. The girls actually reminded their moms that Mrs. Bardsley was having tea at eleven. I found this comforting. Maybe the bullying had affected them too.
Ten moms sat around my dining room table. I prayed in the bathroom and a voice told me to just tell my story. “I’m just going to tell you what is happening with my daughter, ladies. I’m not here to place blame. I’m hoping we can make things better for all the girls.” They nodded and listened.
“My happy go lucky daughter has turned into a recluse. She won’t leave her room. She’s not hungry and she cries every day. She only confides in her older sister. I only know some of the things that have happened because of this. Her grades have dropped. Her smile is gone. She gets obscene phone calls. Her name is written on benches saying she’s a whore, slut, bitch…along with her phone number. I know all of your daughters. They’ve slept at my house over the years. They are good girls. What the hell has happened? This has turned evil.”
Calmer minds prevailed as I poured more tea and they ate the un-valium sprinkled Danish. We all agreed to stay in touch to prevent future abuse. We exchanged phone numbers and we all hugged goodbye.
The bullying stopped that day. The phone began ringing again. Apologies were made. My daughter accepted them, but she’d been hurt. Her scars lasted a long time. Her trust level plummeted. When would it happen again? What would cause it?
If you or anyone you know is being bullied, speak to someone. Keep trying until you get someone to help. It’s a sickness that is affecting our kids at younger ages. It needs to stop. The level of cruelty is disturbing, to say the least. Do something. Don’t let it continue. Do it now. Don’t let a bully rob your child of happiness.
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