Growing up is tough business. You couldn’t pay me to go back to my middle or high school years. Navigating the social circles, fighting for my freedom, starting to find my voice, trying to shape who I am and where I fit in the world, meeting and losing friends, experiencing first love…and that’s before I’ve even started to tackle the accelerating homework and school pressure because college is just a few years away. Nope, I’m very happy to have survived that… The only thing that makes it worse is when there are bullies, “mean girls,” and tormentors amplifying the noise that already exists in an adolescents’ head. I had my fair share of experiences as a kid with these types of people–and it was agony–and I know from FB that most people have experienced it too.
Here’s what else I know (and here’s where I learned some of it) … There is a link between bullying and suicide, victims are more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. In fact, almost half of the suicides committed by young people are related to bullying. Here’s what scarier… This is impacting lots of kids, like nearly 30 percent of students, and, if you check out MBNBD, you’d see stats about how bullying causes 19,000 suicides every year and keeps 160,000 kids at home every day because they are scared of getting bullied. Angry? Scared?
If not, this should do it then…
– 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying
– 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month
– 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
What does this mean? It means it’s OUR problem. All of us. Not just the parents of the victims…not just the parents of the bullies… Because looking at these stats, chances are slim your kid is in that 10% (and mind you, that’s just reported). My Mom recently said to me that bullies look and have radar for the “special” kids — you know, the ones that don’t quite belong and are just ever so slightly different. I was that kid. I looked like I should be “normal” from the outside, but on the inside I was a theater geek, culture and media obsessive…that’s great when you’re 35 at a dinner party, but when you’re 12 at a bat-mitzvah notsomuch.
Think back and recall your eighth grade year (unless you were ridiculously popular, a merciless bully, tremendously lucky or were home schooled–then this may have bypassed you) this period is fraught with self-doubt, change, mood-swings from puberty…it’s the beginning of that stage when you’re not a kid but not an adult…it’s when one unkind word, one falling-out, one wrong glance can make you feel unattractive, awkward and alone in a matter of nano-seconds. Is it coming back to you yet?
What sees a young person through is a little bit of internal fortitude, a loving support system and knowledge that there is something unique, distinct and special about them–and even if they don’t see it all the time–those around them do. It’s what makes them rare, delightful and full of magic… It’s what makes them, well…unicorns, I guess.
Cue your eye roll, right? Ok, hang in there with me for a moment more….
A couple months ago, my daughter came home begging for a unicorn pajama set (see post lead image). Its’s a one-suit, hooded pajama–something I might have dressed her in when she was 2 or 3 except it didn’t have little padded feet. I decided not to judge… if she wanted to have a union-suit in July, so be it. I went on eBay (her idea), then Amazon (my preference). I found it, ordered it and approximately 28 business days later it arrived…also the same week school started.
Her first ten days of school were not easy. Within one week she had a falling out with a group of friends and another kid hassled her at the bus stop after school. It was sucky, and she was coming home feeling frustrated, angry and sad; and (whadaya know) would slip into her unicorn pajamas… then suddenly: smiles, happiness, comfort! I soon came to realize this may be the best $38 I’ve ever spent on back-to-school merchandise. So this costume was her “feel-good” object, a little reminder of her wonder and magic. She loved it and I loved seeing her joy.
So in that spirit, I thought I would end this post by sharing some other thematic ideas for the precious unicorn in your life (yes, I included the pjs). You never know what can see a person through.
Unicorn Pajamas ($39, Amazon)
Unicorn Lover Magnetic Poetry ($11.95, Cool Stuff Express)
Unicorn Book: “Raising Unicorns” ($13, ModCloth)
- Back-to-School Bully Busting – A Safety Guide for Parents by SimpliSafe Home Security (simplisafe.com)
- Fla. girl, 12, commits suicide after alleged online bullying (huffingtonpost.com)