I once was a bully.
When I pushed people around, nasty amounts of pride swelled in my awkwardly skinny chest. It made me feel better. Like a parasite I sucked energy from the weak. Sometimes they were bigger than me, but often I was aggressive enough to push around the large and insecure as much as the small.
Once I teased the wrong, large boy, and he kicked the crap out of me.
I deserved it.
Still, If someone had learning problems, I’d make fun of them.
If someone was not as good at sports I picked on them.
(Funny because I stunk at most sports)
If someone spoke another language, yeah… You get it.
So now probably 20+ years later I have come to know Jesus in a profound way and have apologized to most people that I bullied in my youth. I’ve apologized for violence, hurtful songs I scribed and just a general meanness that was pervasive in my childhood. I feel free from the shame and guilt that comes with such despicable behavior, as I have been forgiven in Christ. It is only in Him I can find such peace. I don’t deserve it, but I receive it.
And yet, I see bullying rearing it’s ugly head in my life once again, as kids begin to tease my beautiful special needs child. It’s not aggressive or violent but it stabs me all the way to my core.
You may say I deserve this for my awful behavior, but no child deserves to pay for the sins of their father.
My 4.5-year-old son has William’s syndrome and he’s not typical. He hugs everyone he meets to the point of awkwardness. He asks the name of people he knows, just for fun. He is still learning to not poop his pants, which can leave a smell that kids are quick to pounce on.
(Figuratively, cause I aint cleaning that up)
When they catch sight of his diapers, I know teasing is inevitable and it breaks my heart.
Amidst all his apparent flaws is a beautiful boy that will love you for you. He will see you as special and treat you as such. He might throw stuff at you but he is quick to apologize. He has an almost savant-like love for music and he already can rock a beat on the drums. But when he walks awkwardly says something weird, he’ll be teased.
Parents, this is where I need you:
I’ve heard kids make fun of my boy and yet, I don’t know how to chastise someone else’s child. It would be weird and someone might call social services on me if I got in the right mood.
“YOU LITTLE TURD BLOSSOM, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THIS CHILD WAS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!” Gosh, that would probably still be bullying…dangit.
So this is my plea, parents. Help me. Help me by teaching your children to cherish those who are different from them. Help me to show them what bullying can do to a person. Let’s show them how to embrace someone that looks or talks differently than them. Don’t let anything go unsaid.
Talk to them early and often about showing kindness to people different from them.
A few helpful words a week could change a life.
Who knows that life could be my beautiful boy.