What could be worse than bullying? Well, certainly being bullied by your own family and their friends…
My 7th, 8th, & 9th grade years, I was bullied. Kids in my grade and lower didn’t seem to notice me, it was always the upperclassmen. What made it worse is 90% of those were my brothers friends and teammates (football), and even worse, my brother joined in. I thought big brothers were supposed to protect and look out for their little sisters, you know?
When I would tell my parents or the teachers, the response I got was, “Oh, they’re only teasing you. They tease because you’re his sister (he was kind of popular) and they look at you like a little sister.” My friends would say, “At least the popular guys are paying you attention!”.
They would constantly call me “poodle” because my mom had given me a bad perm. After it grew/washed out, they found another nickname.. Bologna. That nickname developed over the summer before 9th grade. My mom, my brother, and two of his friends and I were driving from Mississippi to Florida.
My mom had packed a cooler full of drinks and sandwich stuff. We were making sandwiches and I kept asking them to pass me the bologna. They kept ignoring me. Finally my brother turns with the meat and shoves it into my face and hair, just smearing and crumbling it everywhere. Ugh. And the nickname was born.
One particular day, a couple of seniors and juniors had me cornered at my locker. My brother was there. They had me in tears, calling me bologna, dog, poodle, poking at me and laughing. The this guy walks up, he was a football player – one of the more popular and ‘stars’ of the team. He reaches in and takes my hand, pulls me away from them.
He tells them if he catches them messing with me again, they’ll have to deal with him. And I’ll never forget, he looks at my brother and says “and you should be ashamed of yourself.”.
I didn’t have any problems after that. He walked me to class a few times after that, but it devolved into a grin and headnod in the hallway.
This was a good 20 years ago and I’ve never forgotten him or what he did for me.
Funny enough, once my brother and his asshole friends graduated, I bloomed socially. I was a serious social butterfly, had tons of friends from popular kids to nerds, the weird kids and the blend into the crowd kids and everything in between. I was quite popular. But I always, always stood up for kids when I saw them being bullied.
I never forgot what he did for me, I just tried to pass it on.
So if you’re reading this and you’re in high school or, hell even if you’re not, if you see someone being bullied, say something. Just that one act of kindness could change a person’s life.
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