Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kids Who Hit

I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately, thinking about my childhood and people who swam in and out of it. One thought that has followed some memories has been "I should have smacked him/her at that time". Now, I realize this is not a positive thought and I'm not advocating hitting others, but for some reason, there is some appeal to smacking the jerk or stuck-up twit from my memories when I think of the times they made me cry.

I admit, rather embarrassingly, I was a cry-baby as a child. I cried over everything. You name it, I cried. It's completely embarrassing now, when I look back to see just how often I cried. I cried A LOT. Way too much. According to my parents, I was hyper sensitive. Even my elementary teachers commented about my sensitivity on my report cards. I was that kid in elementary school who, while being picked on and ridiculed, would just sit there crying which of course fueled further ridicule. I was a total baby.

I do remember classmates who reacted in a different way to ridicule. They hit. They would just curl their hands into fists and POW, fist met face. There were bloody noses and tears, from the bully not the victim. Then, that classmate was sent home for a few days. The classmate returned and was never picked on or ridiculed again. I always secretly wished I was strong like those kids.

My parents raised me with the lesson that hitting was bad. "Don't hit, it's not nice" is what I was constantly told. So, being the good girl that I was, I didn't hit. My parents said that if someone was being mean, I should tell my teachers. So, I did. I embarrassingly admit I was a tattletale. That pretty much explains 50% of the ridicule and bullying aspect of my school years. The other 50% I'll save for a different post. Being a tattletale pretty much sets you up as a bully target.  So, I was picked on, which resulted in crying and tattling, which led to me being called a cry-baby.

That brings me back to hitting.  As a child, there were only 2 occasions where I actually hit someone.  The first time I hit someone, it was completely out of self-defense and because my mom, grandmother, 2 aunts, 1 uncle and my grandfather all told me to.  My cousin Nikki and I are 3 years apart, I'm older.  Nikki's father is one of my mom's younger brothers, that's how we're related.  Well, on her mother's side, she only had male cousins, and they picked on her a lot.  Whenever we were together at our grandmother's house, Nikki usually picked on me, she was a biter.  She bit me A LOT.  Well, after crying and tattling (because I was an expert at both), my mother, grandmother, 2 aunts, 1 uncle and grandfather all got tired of me crying and tattling, so they said "The next time Nikki bites you, hit her back, then she'll stop biting", sounded like decent advice.  One day, Nikki and I were playing in our Aunt Sonja's room and she bit me.  I cried out and then I backhanded her.  She screamed and I screamed and then my grandmother, who was babysitting us, yelled for us.  Well, I ran into the other room, told Nana what had happened and Nikki was right behind me saying "Nuh uh".  Nana made us sit on the couch and wait for our respective parents.  My mother showed up first and Nana told me to tell her what happened, so I did.  Well, my mother rewarded me with a hug and a "good girl" comment and then sat down and started talking to my grandmother.  When Uncle Julius (Nikki's father) came in, Nikki told him what happened and his response was "Well, that's what you get for biting".  Nikki never bit me again after that.

The second time I hit someone, it was my younger sister and I'm just going to say, she deserved it.  I don't exactly remember how old we were, but she was young and I do believe she hit me first.  She was a bossy toddler and I usually received a scratch or a hit if I said no to her.  Finally, I decided I was done being abused by her and when she hit me, I hit her back.  She has, after all these years, continued to be bossy, but I ignore it.  I'm the oldest so her bossiness really just doesn't fly with me and I ignore her.  Or I make a snarky comment, which I think is better than hitting any day of the week.

Looking back at the response I received from adults after hitting Nikki and looking at the way other children picked on me throughout my school years, I do wonder what life would have been like if I had actually hit someone.  I'm sure at some point, I'd be suspended, and after enough of those I'd be expelled.  Maybe, I would have fallen in with the "bad" crowd, become a troublemaker, a rabble rouser.  Maybe, I'd be doing hard time right now, living in a cell not much bigger than the cubicle I currently work in.

OR...maybe all it would have taken was one slap to send the message that I'm not the butt of anyone's jokes.  Maybe, one well place slap would have commanded respect from the other kids.  Maybe, I would have developed  a high level of confidence at a much younger age than when it actually occurred.  Maybe I wouldn't have become a quiet, reserved assistant, but rather a brash, brazen, commanding attorney.  Maybe, just maybe...

I don't know what happened to all of the kids who bullied me growing up.  I do remember hearing that one girl, who bullied me in 8th and 9th grade, ended up in jail for stealing a car and crossing state lines in it.  A boy who tormented me in 2nd grade, ended up in juvenile detention for awhile and then was "sent away".  I know a few of the other kids grew up and out of their bully phases and by the time I graduated from high school with them, they were actually really nice and about 180 degrees different from elementary school.  Then, there are others who I just never heard anything about.

Isn't there a saying, "once a hitter, always a hitter"?  Or is it "once a cry-baby, always a cry-baby"?  I don't know.  I think people can change.  I think you can be a bully and give it up.  I think you can cry over spilt milk (i.e. be a cry-baby) and then learn to just shrug it off and go about your business.  I do think there are bad eggs that turn out good once they've matured, and there are good eggs who plummet downhill into badness.  Then, there are those who are just bad eggs, that's just what they are.  There are those who are good eggs, that's just who they are.  Personally, I don't agree with hitting or picking on those who are weaker than you (or who you perceive are weaker), but I think each person has to decide for him/herself.  Is hitting ever o.k.?  Is it ever necessary?  Is there ever a time/place/situation when slapping someone is absolutely the right response?  I don't know.  What I do know is that it took me a long time to learn to stand up for myself against bullies.  Maybe hitting or slapping the bully would have helped me develop a thick skin early on, become more confident and outgoing.  I don't know.  What I do know is this, I can stand up for myself, speak my mind, support my decisions, intelligently voice my thoughts, laugh at myself and look strangers in the eye NOW.  I consider myself confident, finally, and I got to this stage without slapping anyone (well, except for Nikki and my sister).

I'm not a hitter, it just wasn't my style, for better or for worse.

Cheers, TLN ~
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