Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sugar and Spice vs Bossy and Brave

Not our kitty. We rescued this little (ha - nope, he's kinda huge) from a family situation, denutted (Pup's word) him and gave him to Lorenzo and her boy. They have fallen in love with him. Yes, we are cat people (sorry George!).


But that's not what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about bullying.

There's lots of talk about it all around me. Reactionary-type talk mostly. Some of it that is labeled bullying mostly seems like a difference of opinion. Some of it is flagrant and mean.

I was bullied only for one short period of time in my childhood. I mentioned in a previous post that I played the trombone. When I first started playing I was in the 5th grade and actually had to carry that thing to school every day. I bet it wasn't as far as my memory is telling me, but it was a bit of a jaunt.

It was winter and I was in the 6th grade. And carrying my trombone to and from school on a daily basis. By this point I was fairly used to the walk, but I had caught the eye of a couple of my classmates. Let's call them Bubba and Goofus.

They started following me and poking fun at me. Running around me, saying incredibly clever things like, "Uh, a GIRL playing trombone! Bet you can't slide that thing in here." Following too close, running in front of me. Just being little assholes.

Up until then I had been pretty happy playing the trombone. I was first chair (can you even believe?) and enjoying the whole thing very much.

These two little miscreants were making me miserable though. And making me second guess my choice. I started wishing I played the flute. Something I could tuck safely and securely into my book bag.

But after a week or two of this shit I slugged Bubba hard with the damn thing. Right in his ass if memory serves. His momma called my house that night insisting I was mean and had "broken blood vessels" in her poor boy. I got in pretty bad trouble with my parents. I later finally figured out that he had a bruise. Poor little bully. But I never did see those two on my walk again.

I felt terrible about the whole thing though. Even though those two had made a couple weeks of my life fairly miserable, I felt guilty that I had struck back. My dad had said something along the lines that "ladies don't behave that way." I never really figured out what I was supposed to do. And what I had done was effective wasn't it? But I still felt guilty.

There's a book that was recently published I want to read, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. I haven't read it yet, but it was pointed out to me that one of the things she's been saying is that as a young girl she was told that she was bossy. It made me think of the messaging I had received as a young girl.

I have always loved to lean in. A few times in my life I have totally leaned in. I joke constantly that I am bossy and controlling. I know what I like and like what I want. Deep back in me I wasn't certain if this is the way I should be. Girls are soft and nice and not bossy. Guess what? I'm soft, nice, and bossy. I temper my bossy with humor, self-deprecation, and underlying smarts. Yes, I am smart. I am bossy. I am a woman.

I don't like it when I see women back down from an opinion because they are reticent to look less than nice. Sometimes we need to step up, lean in, and hit that damn bully with our trombone. If it leaves a few bruises, well then that guy can lean in.


Karen said...

.... lol.. my mother still reminds me of the time she was driving down the street as I was walking home from school - i believe I was 11 years old, only to catch me flipping a boy over my shoulder because he had stolen my hat. For, like, the tenth time.

His mom didn't call my mom, and my mom laughed and said..well, I know you'll always be able to take care of yourself, Karen.

T said...

I don't like it when I see women back down from an opinion because they are reticent to look less than nice. Sometimes we need to step up, lean in, and hit that damn bully with our trombone. If it leaves a few bruises, well then that guy can lean in.

Resounding AMEN to THAT!

And I guess I'm not a very "nice girl," because I would NOT have felt guilty for slamming him in the ass. Proud? Yes.

Guilty? No.

Guess I'm one of those mean bitches.

Ms. A said...

I could totally hold my own at that age, and did. It wasn't until years later that someone turned me into a stump. When that person was no longer part of my life, I turned myself around and learned to speak up and get bossy and controlling. In all fairness, somebody has to do it and around here, I'm the only one that will. (especially discipline, when the kids were growing up)

Sara Louise said...

I was bullied quite a bit for a couple of years when I was younger and I really wished I had leaned. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever leaning in now though :)

Jak Cryton said...

Hi Deborah,

I've been following/reading for a while, but this is my first posting.

Bullying can be a troubling issue for children, and it is a shame any of them have to suffer from it.

Usually merely standing up to a bully will end the situation thereafter. Not sure about cracking them on the ass, but hey! lol

I chose to nominate you for a small award over at my blog: The Cryton Chronicles : An Awards Ceremony I hope you will accept it an carry it on to others you may know!

Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

You may be interested in checking out the A to Z Challenge as well :)

Deborah said...

Karen - your momma gave you a good message!

tPretty - No, never, not a mean girl. Just a girl who knows what's what. I wish I had been like that.

Ms A - Good for you! I like that you turned that around.

Sara Louise - It's amazing how many kids get bullied. It makes the mind swoon.

Jak - Thanks again for the nomination!