Sunday, September 25, 2016
Bea stalled at the curb. She wouldn't look at me, just down at the ground where she stood on her scooter.
Then she looked up. "Excuse me," she said.
"What? We have to go now. What are you doing?"
"I can't get by you, Daddy!"
I backed up off the sidewalk and Beatrice rolled past me on her scooter. The scowl on her face evident, she stopped right ahead of me, turned, and punched me in the stomach.
It wasn't a significantly hard punch, since I am significantly much bigger than she is, but it was a defiant punch nonetheless. One to let me know how frustrated she was with me.
"Why did you that?"
"You are mean," she said, and rode farther away from me on her scooter.
Ah yes -- Daddy is direct and gruff at times. That's why. I wasn't bullying her, but I was bossing her while not listening to her and understanding her situation: that I was in her way and I didn't realize it or acknowledge it.
She used her voice to let me know how I made her feel. I smiled as she rode away from me because, if I had been someone who was being mean to her and bullying her purposely, then I felt better about her standing up for herself. She used her Kidpower, looked me in the eyes and spoke "in a firm voice." Unfortunately, instead of holding both hands in front of her body with palms facing outwards, like a wall, and telling me to stop, which is Kidpower recommendation of dealing with bullying, she punched me right in the stomach. Not really part of the anti-bullying playbook unless absolutely necessary to defend yourself.
And here's the thing for me and the Mama today -- there seems to be this acerbic correlation between those who defend themselves who have been and are "bullied" due to gender, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation, and the escalation of those who bully to keep them down and maligned. That's probably because it's being reported more often than not, the prevalence of all kinds of bullying being significant. Some studies show that students experience some form of bullying nearly 50 percent of the time.
While the effects of being bullied are well-documented, those who bully are at increased risk for academic problems, substance use, and violent behavior later in adolescence and adulthood. This is the part that bothers me the most now, especially being the father of two girls. Unfortunately the rise in incivility and bullying is being sugarcoated as an appropriate backlash against a supposed overly political correctness.
But that's just a load of crap; it's simply lethargic ignorance to overreact and make it personal. To hurt those we don't like or agree with instead of having a productive and emotionally intelligent dialogue about agreeing to disagree. It's all about the "more" -- we let our misogynistic insults fly more in America than ever. Maybe I'm just paying more attention than ever, but it seems as though as women make more equality progress in the workplace, in public office and at home, and in leadership positions far and wide overall, the more the demeaning rhetoric flies.
I'm livid because of what I'm seeing and hearing, not only from the grand global political stage, but from friends, family and peers who seem to be forgiving this behavior as the status quo. Who add to the bullying discourse by concurring and piling on, or even worse, not speaking up and letting it slide. Who forgive our leaders (men and women alike) at all levels in business, government and in school who belittle our daughters (and sons) this way.
I'm livid and saddened because I believe we're better than that, although the Mama and I are painfully aware of what's coming for our girls as they get older. So like a superhero punch to the solar plexus, we're preparing them as best we can to be fully aware and walk away when they should, and to fight back when they must.