Mere-Mere (older daughter) came to Sunday dinner yesterday. As is so often the case when family comes together it was a chance to relive old memories for new friends. One thing that she reminded me of…how fierce I can be when it comes to protecting my cubs.
But I learned that lesson early from my Gran-Gran (grandmother). I was six years old and in first grade. It was the early 70s in the Deep South so tensions were high as a new day dawned on race relations. We were standing in line for lunch and I said something to the little girl next to me who happened to be black. Except as little kids are apt to do…I sprayed it instead of saying. She told the teacher I spit on her. Without allowing me to say a word, it was ruler on the back of my knuckles.
I went home crying that afternoon…because I did not understand what the problem was. Why would this little girl think I spit on her when I was just saying something? Why wouldn’t my teacher at least let me explain? My family did though understand…and the very next morning my mother and Gran-Gran took me to school themselves. I went to my class and they went to the principal’s office.
A little while later I AND my teacher were called to the office. The principal did listen as I apologized with tears for something I had not really done at all. That principal made my teacher apologize to a six year old.
If that was not impressive enough, what Gran-Gran did next…well, almost forty-five years later and this is not the first time I have blogged about it. She looked at my teacher and told her, “The next time you punish Terri Lynn without getting her side of the story first, I am going to come up here and pulled every gray hair in your head out.” It was the 70s so I am sure that the principal must have cleared her throat and looked uncomfortable, but that was as far as it went. Funny twist to that story…two years later when my little brother was assigned that same teacher, she dyed her hair red.
So when it comes to fighting injustice and bullies, this Momma always had big boots to fill. But over the years, I have not done too poorly.
Mere-mere and I reminisced over her fifth grade. She had some weight issues and that made her the target of bullying. And if you think boys are bad on the playground with fists, girls are so much more vicious with words. I was in that school office every single week…at least once…demanding that it be stopped.
True to my family heritage, one day a few weeks before the end of the school year the principal stops my daughter in the hallway. She tells this ten year old, “Please tell your mother that I am retiring at the end of the year.” Mind you, she had not even announced it to her staff and she wanted me to know.
Things are a bit tougher here, but that does not stop this Mama Bear from fighting to protect her cubs. James was in first year of sixth form (mix of high school and junior college) when his sociology teacher called to complain that he was talking too much in class.
I asked her what she meant…was he disturbing the other students? Turns out the problem was…he knew all the answers when the other students did not. She was upset that he spoke out frequently, had strong opinions and made valid points.
She started to mumble and got off the phone VERY quickly when I explained that as I was sure she was aware being American James had been acculturated to speak his mind…and I was sorry but I would NOT be having a word with him about it…except to tell him how proud I was of him. Oh, the next year he won an award from that same teacher.
PanKwake was not even five when she was bullied to the point of tears every single day when I picked her from school. She was asking me if she was dumb/stupid/ugly. Her father and I arranged to meet with not just the teacher but the assistant head (vice-principal). When we began to complain we were told that ‘she needed to develop a thicker skin…that was how life was.’ I ‘politely’ pointed out their zero tolerance policy for bullying and was informed that was just politically correctness.
Did I back down? No, I taught my child to go to the playground monitors and to pester them until they did listen to her. That was not their tea break and time to gossip. And she was to stand there and pitch a fuss until they did listen to her. Needless to say, when we decided to take her out of school to home educate the next year…the head teacher nodded and replied that he was certain it was for the best.
Honestly, there are times that I probably cross the line into bullying the bullies. I hope you don’t really expect me to apologize for that. This Mama Bear will rip your head off and feed it to you if you mess with hers…it’s a family tradition.
We truly do have a ZERO TOLERANCE… for BULL SHIT!