On several walks home from school recently my nine-year-old has been telling me about a boy in her grade that is very competitive at recess time. The kids will be playing a game and it seems this child goes a little too far, gets a little too intense, to where it’s no longer fun. I’m so grateful my daughter talks to me about her observations and feelings and that together we can process what boundaries she needs to hold when interactions with him become uncomfortable.
Meanwhile the teacher evidently heard rumblings of conflict at recess and worked with all of the kids involved to set some ground rules. That was helpful and things had been going alright when one day my daughter mentioned that there was yet another episode with this particular boy. I was proud of her when she told me how steady and maturely she handled the situation. She added, however, that despite her doing all the right things, the teacher still had to get involved. I listened closely. Apparently another classmate went to the teacher, on her own, to inform the teacher that the boy was becoming way too aggressive toward my daughter. The boy hadn’t done anything outright, nothing verbally or physically inappropriate, but this classmate sensed a relentless hostility in him that made her feel uneasy… uneasy enough to flag it to the teacher.
I felt such appreciation and admiration for this classmate to have had the good sense in her bones to know when a line was being crossed, even without word or deed. Bullying is more than a swear or a push, it’s an energy that intimidates another, that makes them feel unsafe, that leaves anticipation of harm in the air. This classmate was so wise and so brave to notice this and furthermore to say something to someone who could help.
My daughter and I then discussed how wonderful it is when someone stands with us — when we are facing the bad behavior of another, or when we’re dealing with big problems, or when we cannot even see that we in fact need support. To have a friend who will stand with you can make all the difference in the world.
This situation reminded me that I am richly blessed to have such people in my own life… friends with whom solidarity is assumed without explanation and reinforcement is deployed whenever necessary.
With whom do you stand and who stands with you?
May you be inspired!