Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trampled By Tweens

A few weeks ago I had two tween encounters that left me shaky.  Shaky as in I'm not going to allow my children to go through puberty.  Ever.

I found myself pretty much in the middle of tween twins, but the first incident was all my impulsive, vigilante doing. 

A little background.  I am a short woman, topping out at 5 feet and 3/4 of an inch.  I'm grasping onto that portion of an inch.  I also am fairly introverted.  The snark flies in my writing, but in person not so much unless there's a Negra Modela in my hand.  My next door neighbor - also a tiny woman - had told me about a bullying incident involving her neighbor on the other side of her house.  He's a middle school kid in a new foster home (or just adopted).  He's brawny, but sweet.  Apparently four kids harassed him on the walk home from school so he was carrying a rock the size of my head as protection.  Enter me, next day.  Quiet, short me.  The neighbor kid was walking home, in the middle of the street, and as I walked to my car he muttered, "They're throwing rocks at me."  He didn't seem overly concerned, but I think he was trying to act tough.  Quiet, short me decided this was not acceptable (and it isn't, people!), so I marched around my car right over to the four bully tweens and said something stupid like, "Is there a problem here?"  Let me just say that I'm terrible at confrontations and not so awesome at ad-libbing and here I was, doing both.  All four kids towered over me.  At least one had dreadful acne.  The rock thrower feigned ignorance, wearing his backpack strap across his face, and had the gall to tell me my neighbor was his friend.  He and one other kid kept walking and laughing.  Two stayed behind.  One was a lawyer.  "I don't understand what you're saying, ma'am.  I didn't throw any rocks." Technically, he was right.  However, he was a rock-throwing accessory.  I didn't say that.  I just got heated up and talked complete smack.  And he called my bluff.  The end of the story is that my tiny next door neighbor talked to the parents of the kid who was bullied and he called the school.  I'm not sure I, myself, did any good.

Later that same day I walked over one block to an acquaintance's house to interview her for a piece I'm writing.  It was lovely.  The air was slightly breezy and not too hot.  We sat on the porch and had a nice conversation. 

Then her twins came home. 



Once again, I found myself surrounded by tweens who were a head taller than me. Before I knew it, one twin had her arm around me and was calling me her best friend. She told me she liked my "pouffy" hair.  She was pressuring me to eat ice cream.  (Let me pause here to say, this was a way nicer scenario than the bully incident.)  I've listened to the interview on tape and I make a lot of uncomfortable laughs.  I felt like the butt of a joke, but it was confusing.  What was the joke?

To all of the middle school teachers out there who I know and love, and to those I don't know and therefore would be creepy to love, you are beyond saints.  I couldn't do what you do all day long, five days a week, 9 months of the year.  Thank you for what you do. 

I so owe you a Negra Modelo.


9 comments:

  1. Let me tell you, as a former jr high school teacher and a former jr high schooler, that you made an impact on those kids. Doesn't matter how you felt, they felt weirder. Standing up for what's right is what you do, and of course it makes you vulnerable, but they'll remember that someone stood up and told them it was wrong. If no one says its wrong, they don't ever learn it.
    Sarah

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  2. PS - Now you might understand where I get my ferocious boundaries from. S

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  3. As the parent of a current "Tween" and having had the dubious honor of parenting both a boy and a girl tween then teen now quasi-adult(note they are NOT full adults until we are no longer paying their bills)I can honestly say BRAVO!
    Never stop standing up to them, they are full of false bravado mixed with a lethal dose of hormones, chemical additives from food, drinks, and possibly medications. This makes them at best unstable, irrational, and unpredictably unpleasant and often smelly creatures!
    Having said that, they are also quite fragile, they are testing every boundary and limit in site so that they can be reassured that there ARE boundaries and limits and that someone DOES care. Have you ever read the Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership? If not, please do. I live by these and work hard for all of my chldren to live by them. You may have felt powerless and snubbed and even perhaps foolish; however, you did two things that day, you showed a young man someone DOES care and you showed the other boys that people are aware of their foolish and unkind behavior and it is not to be tolerated.
    Give the world the best that you can and you will get kicked in the teeth, give it anyway.
    From one 5ft ZERO inch mom to another...
    Sarah

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  4. I subbed in Middle School for 2 years. NEVER AGAIN. I'm proud though - you stood up for that kid. That takes a lot of courage, I think. We have canadian geese that like to hang out near the pond at my parents' house. (They live on a golf course) My husband and I were on the deck having coffee and noticed these tweens shooting at the geese with BB guns. I WENT OFF. We started yelling at them that it was a golf course not a shooting gallery, that there were kids around, that the geese were not there for their enjoyment. It was not my best off-the-cuffing, but we did the right thing. My dad, the lawyer, later told us that it's a felony under the Migratory Bird Protection Act (or something) to shoot at Canadian Geese and said that we should have just called the cops and watched them get felony charges before they even finished puberty. Alas. But now I know.

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    1. Technically, Kate, I could have called the cops and reported these idiots for attempted assault, I'm guessing. I did threaten it, but I couldn't think of the word "assault." I also thought about how one of those rocks might have landed on a car: destruction of property. Thanks for being proud of me. I've been hiding in my house at 2:45 every day. Not feeling proud. And good on you for screaming at those kids. I would have flipped.

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  5. hi, i found you through "she writes". as the mother to 2 daughters one 14, one 28 my advice is never let the little friggers see you sweat. stay strong. good job

    new follower bev
    ps. my blog is http://www.blackinkpaperie.blogspot.com. i would love for you to check it out and follow if you like it.

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    1. Good advice, Bev! I think my face always gives me away. I teach as an adjunct professor, so I've learned the art of "persona". However, these two encounters didn't allow for much prep time! I didn't have my game face ready.

      Thanks for following. I'll definitely check out your blog.

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  6. Oh, my word, Amy! What an awful experience with the rock-throwers!! It makes you want to respond in the same infantile way they are behaving--though, I know, I know, we're the adults. they're the kids. But kudos to you for trying to do something about it. If nothing else, it tells the kid who was being pelted by rocks that someone cares about him enough to act. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, Anna. These kids walk down my street every day. No more incidents, but I tend to avoid them all the same.

      Keep your readers posted on your situation. If it continues, call a social worker or the police!

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Comments for me? Thanks a bunch!