Well. Apparently Facebook is rife with heated discussion amongst the parents in my area. I wouldn’t know, I’m not on there (couldn’t take the drama), but it’s made its way down the grapevine. Parents are up in arms over the common core standards debate and the bullying situation at our local Jr. High. Recently our tiny town made the news when a would-be shooter was turned in with a stock pile of weapons and a kill list containing names of his bullies and those who failed to help him.
It all sounds controversial and terrifying, everybody is worried and scared — not a good combo. My articles for Goldfish Smiles are due in advance, so our local situation had not occurred when I wrote my over-the-word-limit novella about conflicts from my youth and letting my kids fight their own battles. I’ve always had regret over a few situations from my youth. I was generally toward the lower end of the pecking order in elementary school, but usually not the absolute lowest. In 6th grade, I think there was only one ‘beneath’ me. I was horrible to her, and apologized later. We made our peace in high school, and I’ve always been so grateful for her forgiveness.
In high school I found more of a niche. I certainly wasn’t the bottom, but dwelt pretty firmly in the “Lower Cliques and Groups.”
This fun little image illustrates the social structure of my high school years — at least from my point of view. Each group had its own sub groups, and there were probably total loners and rebels that refused to be associated anywhere. I find it interesting that if you were smart, in honors classes, and had upper-middle class parents who could keep you in the latest fashions and provide you with a decent looking car, you were pretty much golden. Nerds were safe as long as they were smart. It was the ‘stupids’ who were in the lower tiers, and those of us who were smart, but lacked the right clothes and the right car.
Cheerleaders weren’t in the top tier, at least not most of them. The drill team and dance club girls were, though. Choir was decently ‘cool’ though there was lots of crossover there. Band remained ubiquitously dorky, unfortunately. What did your school cliques look like?
The whole thing is really rather fascinating to me. I’d love to interview people from all the groups today and find out how they feel about their high school experience.
My Goldfish Smiles post isn’t really about bullying, per se. It’s more about wishing I had a bit more brains in my head as a kid. I wish I’d treated Janet better. I wish I’d not been such an idiot when it came to Annie. (All names changed, by the way). I wish I’d been less of a self preserving fence sitter and a more proactive brave-type person. But man, I don’t know. Did school feel like a battlefield to you? I’ve always wondered what it felt like to really popular people. Were they aware of the pecking order? Grateful they weren’t at the bottom? Afraid to make a stand or just above it all?
In my schools it didn’t really seem like those at the top were doing the bullying and teasing like it often appears in the movies. The golden children seemed more blissfully unaware. At least to me. By highschool I had a few friends in all the ‘groups’ mostly due to growing up with some of the higher ranked folks. My friend Ginger (real name) made a stand for me when I was getting bullied pretty cruelly in Jr. High. She got a couple of other really high ranking individuals to go to bat for me and shut that crap right down. Their power was pretty awe inspiring, and I was grateful for friends in high places.
Looking back, I wish I had had that kind of power to stand up for people in terrible situations, but I knew if I’d opened my mouth, I only would have incurred the attention and subsequent wrath from the bully. I simply wasn’t ranked high enough. Poor George, he got thrown out of the boys swim locker room naked every morning for years. He hid behind a trash can up against the vending machine. I did nothing.
Well. These posts for Pepperidge Farm always get me thinking, and they only want so many words. So you get the brunt of the rest of it. Here’s an excerpt:
Our number one goal is the safety and well-being of our children. If there was a serious bullying situation or abuse going on, my husband and I would not hesitate to pull on the gloves. But for the most part the small disagreements, arguments, and even altercations between friends can be dealt with in a kind and level-headed manner.
And since no one likes to comment over there (thanks Facebook integration!) come back here and tell me what you think. Bonus points if you read both gigantic posts. xo