‘Bully’ for You — On My Soapbox

bully-1A young friend of ours recently was bullied again. It’s a sad state of affairs when a young girl can’t even be safe at school from classmates who feel the need for power. Because that’s what bullying comes down to, in most cases, I think. Click to Tweet  Our friend is in eighth grade. She was attacked by a boy from behind and a girl from the front. The boy was caught on camera and is now serving an ‘in-school’ suspension, where he can have no contact with other students at any time. He’s basically stuck in a room and his assignments are brought to him. #safeatschool #bullying

But there are other forms of bullying, too, verbal and emotional. “Back in my day” it wasn’t called bullying unless you were physically attacked. I don’t think I was ever physically bullied, but verbally and emotionally, off the charts. Even by a teacher. I’ll relate that incident because it was so unusual. When I was a girl, my mother told me to just “ignore” those who harassed me, and I usually did, and it did help. I’ve talked about rejection syndrome and being shy. Well, instinctively kids go for the jugular whenever they sense weakness. Shyness is a weakness as well as being sensitive. But sometimes, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.

In seventh grade, all the girls took home economics, while boys took shop. In our first semester, we learned sewing, how to stitch by hand, how to use the sewing machine, placing patterns and cutting out pieces, etc. I did pretty well until I got to the sewing part. Our teacher was an unattractive, single woman, an old maid probably, who had no prospects. Evidently it was important to her to be popular with her students. It didn’t take her long to see who the popular students in the class were, and who were not. I’ve said before that I was unpopular, for no other reason than the kids liked to harass me, about my last name, my hair color, etc.

bully-2Once I started sewing, the teacher inspected each seam or dart before you went on the next. We were making a simple two-piece sleeveless blouse. Front, back, two darts (one on each side), two side seams, then finishing the neckline, sleeve holes, and the hem. Easy right? Not for me. If I had one stitch out of line, she made me rip out the whole dart or seam. If my lock stitches weren’t exactly the same size, I’d have to rip them out and do them again. Once the blouse was done, I believe we were to start on a simple A-line skirt. I never got that far. I barely finished my blouse by the end of the semester. Why? Because the teacher made me rip everything out numerous times, I’m not kidding.

I think we were supposed to be done with the blouse by the end of October. I’d barely gotten my two darts done by that time, because she constantly made me rip it out and do it over. For weeks. I was the only one she treated that way. I wasn’t a bad seamstress or a bad student. I didn’t sass her back or show a bad attitude. She just wanted to be well-liked with the popular students. They thought it was pretty funny when they progressed and were nearly done with their blouse, and I was still on the darts. So she thought it was funny, too.

It took weeks for me to convince my mother that the teacher was against me. My mother would just not believe it. Finally, when I told her that everyone else had gone on to their skirts and I was still struggling to get every stitch perfect (but it didn’t matter, because sometimes she just wouldn’t allow me to progress) on my blouse seams. Finally, Mom spoke to Dad, and they went to see the principal of the junior high. And finally, Miss Jones stopped bullying me, and let me finish my blouse by the end of the semester. I’ll never forget being in class and looking up and seeing Mom and Dad at the door of the classroom, just behind Miss Jones as she came into class, looking flustered. She’d been called to the principal’s office.

How she treated me had to be taken care of right then. Click to Tweet I not only had to have her another whole semester of seventh grade, I had to have her in eighth grade as well. Thankfully, after that, she was nice to me, and I breathed a sigh of relief. #bullying #safeatschool

What about you? Did you have a bully for a teacher? Leave a comment and let me know.

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