Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bullying and Antibacterial Products

Kids these days are soft. When I was young, kids of the neighborhood roamed the neighborhood, getting into scrapes, brushing themselves off, and continuing to play. The rule was home by dinnertime, and my parents actually installed a bell next to our back door so they didn't have to shout. (It's even still there.)

Those scrapes often didn't get sanitized until just a few minutes before dinner, even if they happened early afternoon, unless we retreated cowardly from the pack and limped our own way home. I never had to get any body parts amputated and most of the scars have faded by now. I survived.

I suffered from bullying through school, when I transferred to a private school at the end of my second grade. I didn't make friends easily, and since this new crowd wasn't from my own neighborhood (geographic commonality) it was difficult to find my place. Fortunately, I tended to read a lot, and so, instead of playing with my classmates, I sat to the side with a book.

I was bullied for that, for being a bookworm and a nerd, not for the sexual orientation which I would later discover when I turned nineteen. If I got into fights when I was bullied, I was punished along with the other kid. And the bullying continued until I reached sixth grade.

I didn't have a parent step in and pull me out of the school for the bullying; I didn't try to harm myself because it didn't stop; instead, I learned out to deal with it, and to keep going.

Bullying these days is a lot different, whether you're feeling bullied by peers or bacteria. As children, these upcoming generations are being pampered by their parents when they skin their knees, constant hand-washing and antibacterial lotions, and when they grow up and go to school and have to deal with the pressures of people bullying them, they turn to mommy and daddy and expect them to fix it for them. Lawsuits, zero-tolerance policies, lotion dispensers in classrooms, these are new to the world, fall-back policies that my generation didn't have to depend on.

I was bullied. I learned how to keep myself going. I still don't wash my hands regularly, and yet I almost never get sick. I am a survivor. Living hasn't gotten harder, your kids have gotten softer.

So be a good parent and don't use antibacterial lotion. Teach your kid to brush themselves off when they fall and stand back up. A little martial arts training doesn't hurt either.