This post is part of our Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Mercy series, in which CatholicMom.com contributors will share their own experiences of living the Year of Mercy. Beginning at Pentecost and continuing through the summer, we’ll cover many aspects of the Works of Mercy in family life.
Bullying is something that I’ve buried deep within the recesses of my memories. As a young girl, I was bullied. I was bullied because I was different in every way. I was a creative type, singing and acting (trying to dance). I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, and yes, I’m being kind about how my neighborhood was. I was also smart, enjoyed reading, and didn’t sound like any of the other kids I knew growing up. I never had your typical Brooklyn accent and didn’t look like the other kids of Puerto Rican descent of which my school had a majority.
Fast-forward to the present, where my older son attends Catholic school in a very well-to-do parish, nestled in a beautiful green and flowery landscape. He wears a uniform every day, looks just like the other children, shares their nuanced accents and truly is the sweetest boy you could meet.
This year, I found out that he, too was being bullied. He was being bullied for the exact same reasons I was all those years ago. He was, and is, different. He doesn’t swear, as he thinks that language is reserved for adults and sparingly in anger or intense physical pain. He seeks out the other kids who are marginalized or sitting alone and shares his lunch with them. He turns around and waves goodbye to me every morning as I pull away from the curb, with his other arm around his younger brother, keeping him “on the inside of the curb” for protection.
As I looked into his face covered in tears, after he finally revealed that the bullying had gone on for years at this school, I asked what any mother would: “Do you want to get out of there?” He looked at his feet, tears staining his moccasins, and said “No. I don’t want other kids to go through this either. If I can be there for them, I can take on the bullying and the name calling.” Can you see my jaw hanging open? I was speechless. But in that moment, I saw all of the mercy that God had poured on to him, pouring onto faceless children that no doubt, he had helped, and no doubt would continue to do. He assured me that he would be fine after many conversations where I told him we could easily transfer him wherever he wanted. He said, “sometimes I have bad days, but they’re not always like that. I know that if someone says something to me that’s hurtful, that they’re really just hurting on the inside.”
Bullying is not something to take lightly. My son is not physically bullied. He is excluded from playing with certain groups, told that no one really, truly likes him, or that he’s loathed. I know, those words are quite harsh. Some of you may feel that I should do more. I could go into details about how my husband had some very strong words with teachers, the principal and the disciplinarian at the school or how my husband singlehandedly edited and rewrote parts of their disciplinary code.
I check in with my son every single day. We talk about his day, the good and bad parts, and mostly, his days are great. He’s forthcoming when they’re not, and I don’t think it’s my role to constantly run to the school administration when my kid isn’t asked to play ball with the others because they “loathe” him. Instead, we pray for them. We pray that their hurt gets better, because the hurt, the pain, the suffering that they, that my son, all of us go through, won’t last forever.
If your child is being physically bullied in school, please speak with your school administration, and their parents immediately. I am not, in any way, condoning bullying by how we choose to approach our specific and unique situation. This is how we, as a family, taking our son’s input, have chosen to deal with this.
Copyright 2016 Cristina Trinidad