Few people know the details of my upbringing and all that I had to watch, suffer through, and recover from. The horrors of life were ever present in my life from the time I was a small infant to my older teenage years. This included trauma and chaos at school too. Few people realize how badly I was tormented as a child in school. I had several factors stacked against me. First, I have a unique first name that rhymes with colorful, nasty words (think: “Nicky likes _____.”); I have red hair, and my maiden name was Crisp. To add to the fun, I was also miserably poor. My mom was a single mom of three kids and we had a horrible life full of drugs, neglect, abuse (every kind you can define), and homelessness. We moved from house to house, often lived with my grandparents, worked in their restaurant, and struggled to find any sense of stability. It was awful to say the least. Nobody should have to live like that. In the midst of it all, I found a love for school. I loved school and the teachers. I thrived in school at every opportunity. I loved my teachers and clung to them for safety and security. They were my beacons of hope for a different life. A life that I deserved. A life that I could make for myself if I just tried hard enough and made good decisions toward. The sad part about this is that school was not safe for me either. I was tormented for all the things that made me unique. I was called names, teased mercilessly, rumors spread about me, and ridiculed at every turn. I remember it was in 4th grade that things started to get really ugly. I was manipulated into thinking I was doing things wrong, that I wasn’t a good friend, and that I was not worthy of friendship, love, or life. I remember walking home from the bus stop crying my eyes out every single day of 4th, 5th, and most of 6th grade. Nobody helped me. Nobody stood up for me. My mom did nothing. The school did nothing. The teachers did nothing. The bus drivers did nothing. My friends cowered behind the bullies thankful they weren’t the targets of such pain. I cried in humiliation, fear, sadness and thought that maybe I didn’t deserve to live. I never attempted to take my life, but if it weren’t for the grace of God, and His divine intervention, I could have lost all hope for better days. Some of the people I am connected to today on social media were my bullies. They’ve never apologized. We’ve never been close. But they are part of why I am who I am today. I don’t see myself as a victim of anything in life, I see myself as a survivor and I am thriving. However, I do not aim to minimize my experiences. In fact, I aim to highlight that life is hard and kids can be cruel, but with time, healing, and good guidance even the worst of the worst can be made good.
I have to remember this in the season I am in right now.
See, my son has become the target of bullying. He has been hit in the face on several occasions, his books and band instrument taken away from him and thrown on the ground, he’s been called names and ridiculed in front of his peers. All while at school, with teachers, cameras, and a wonderful thing called “David’s Law” are in place. And despite all of these things, here we are, 30 years later, and I am replaying the trauma I experienced as a young girl. My trauma does not equal his trauma, but it has prepared me to face this issue head on and with a fierceness that only a parent can muster when their child is being mistreated. The scars of my past have been opened a bit and my unspent tears are being shed in love for my son, the sweetest, most gentle, kind-hearted person the world has known. He is a smart, kind, talented, warm, friendly, inquisitive, joyful, God-loving, encouraging, funny 12 year old. He is all of this and so much more. Thankfully, he doesn’t have any “flaws” stacked against him that makes him an easy target, but here he is being tormented and assaulted at school. I can’t figure out what has caused this other child to lash out against my son. To add fuel to the already volatile situation, the perpetrator in this case is the principal’s son. Lovely.
Ironically, before the first days of 7th grade, my son’s school held what was called “Prep Days” where you get your school ID, class schedule, and find the classrooms on your schedule. While we were there, I spoke with the principal and the assistant principals about a series of inappropriate activities that occurred on the school bus that ran through my neighborhood the year before. Several students had shared that inappropriate sexual activities were taking place between kids on the bus and several fights broke out, too. Well, when I addressed these concerns all of the principals were baffled at the information as though they had never heard of anything like that. They claimed nobody had reported any of this misbehavior and had no knowledge of any parental concerns about what was happening on the bus. The principal even had a dismissive tone as I spoke with him. Red flags went up all over my brain. Not a good impression. And definitely not a good sign of things to come in the given situation.
Nobody deserves to go through this experience. Yet we know that so many kids are victims of bullying and so many suffer in silence. So many kids don’t have anyone to tell. They don’t have anyone to fight for them. They have no voice to be heard and nobody advocates for the mistreatment to stop. Thankfully there are societal changes taking shape, but the abuse happens faster than laws can be passed or lives saved. I will ensure that I use every single resource at my disposal to ensure my son’s safety and that of others. I will not stand idle by and watch my son or any other child abused like this. I know the depth at which these experiences affect you and the pain that stays with you most of your life. I know the helplessness one feels when faced with bullying and mistreatment. Know this: I will advocate for the safety of all children at this school. I will go to any length necessary to achieve the desired results. I will spare no expense in my endeavors.
I may have scars from my childhood, but I am going to use them as badges of honor in my fight. My bullies had their day, but I will have mine in the demand for this to cease for my child.
The Repressed Peach