It's anti-bullying week November 19th to November 23rd and Sean's school has organized various grade-appropriate discussions and projects. Yesterday, he watched a movie that showed examples of bullying and was quite affected by it, describing different scenarios in detail and asking me questions about them at length. He seems to be overly concerned that I might have been bullied when I was younger. Maybe he's seen pictures of me before leave-in-conditioner was invented, or presumed that because I was small like him, I was an easy target. Sure, I was called names at times, but they were mostly isolated incidents that didn't stick. In fact, I was probably my own worst enemy back then, using a combination of humour and self-deprecation to cope with my insecurities. Hey, if I say it first and make them laugh, then they're just agreeing with me, right? Well, old habits die hard, but I honestly don't worry too much about appearances anymore except perhaps for those mid-line zit days..Which is why, when Sean told me one of his classmates called me stinky today, I laughed out loud. That is, until I saw the look on his face and heard the outrage in his voice. Apparently, calling someone's mother stinky is about as low as you can go when insulting a fellow third grader. Not only does it suggest I have B.O., but it also insinuates that I generally suck as a person. Huh? When I was growing up, we avoided stepping on cracks out of respect for our mothers' backs. We respectfully addressed them as "Mrs. Soandso". And more often than not, we were afraid of them! I googled "your mother is stinky" but the only thing the search engine came up with was "yo mama's so smelly jokes". Something lost in the French translation perhaps? And the insult didn't stop there, I'm afraid. Nosiree. The kid made fun of my stature and build as well. Not only am I stinky mother, but I'm short and fat as well! (This was demonstrated emphatically when my son assumed a hunched over posture and exaggerated, wide-open arm gestures.) I finally asked him who this rude kid was and how he knew me. Apparently, he had seen me at a birthday party Sean attended this past week-end. I couldn't place him, not that it matters. I mean, the kids are always a blur at these events. I did however try to remember if I showered that day and whether I'd worn three layers of fleece or four under my parka.
To make a long story short, Sean reported this boy to a teacher, the boy got a warning and now the teacher probably thinks I'm a smelly mama. I thanked him for his chivalry and tried to put the incident in perspective. People say mean things, they disappoint, they try to make us feel bad. The only power we have over them, is whether or not we choose to believe them. The rest of the discussion was on empathy for others and standing up for anyone who's being picked on or bullied, not just mom. :)