Can bullying be disguised as friendship?
I am dumbfounded this morning after conversations with my daughter last night.
For those of you just joining the story, I adopted my daughter from China just two and half years ago. Her first 11 years were spent in foster homes, group homes, and the orphanage. Most of her history is missing but the parts I know keep me in awe of what a fantastic child she has transcended to be.
We had problems at her last school with bullies to the point that I filed a complaint with the Department of Education after the school continued to ignore it. The children there were merciless and the teachers either condoned it or ignored it, leaving my child the victim, a term I RARELY use, of harassment due to her ethnicity.
You know it was bad when the Department of Education found them at fault and required the entire staff and all the students to go through training in an effort to correct their lack of knowledge on how to treat people who are different from you. The school even failed at this and got a second slap on the wrist. By the time the next report to the DOE was due, they had figured out how to comply.
I have chronicled the problems in my other blog, www.asisterforgrace.blogspot.com. During the investigation process I was required to take the blog down. Since the investigation is complete, I have put it back on view. We won, but who wants to be victorious in proving your child was bullied/abused?
We switched schools and I cannot say enough good things about their new school. There truly is ZERO tolerance for anything that remotely resembles bullying or harassment. The problem is addressed immediately and as Barney Fife always said, nipped it in the bud.
But we have a problem.
Her current “friends” have begun requiring her to do certain things to remain their friends.
She is responsible for providing the “friends” paper, pencils, crayons, tape, whatever they need.
If she does not have it, they are mad and can no longer be her friend.
She has to carry extra supplies with her at all times in case they want something. I picked up her bag the other day and it weighed a ton. She had a small office supply store in there. I thought she was just being prepared, but now I know she was required to bring the extra things for them.
She is responsible for carrying certain items for them to class. If they have too many books or bags, she has to carry them. If they need to go to the restroom, it is her responsibility to hold their lunch and wait, so my daughter does not get to use the bathroom.
Again, if she does not do what they demand, they are mad and explain doubtfulness that she can be their friend.
The school is taking the students on a trip.
Her “friends” have told her she will sleep on the floor because they want the bed.
She can only take a shower or use the bathroom after they are finished.
She does not cry easily but has stayed on the verge of tears when talking about the impending trip and now I know why. She does not want to make her friends not like her yet I think she knew that what they had planned just did not sound right.
These might seem minor but when friendship is based on what you must do for me, I think it is the opposite, I think she is being bullied.
Those were not words she wanted to hear last night. She is proud to have friends who are popular and smart and she wants to do everything it takes to keep them as friends.
Egos are delicate and easily bruised in middle school.
Self-esteem is scarce.
Spending your first 11 years in survival mode makes you do whatever it takes to survive even if it is detrimental to your spirit, your esteem, your self worth.
How do you teach a child to look through the veil of friendship and see what it really is?
I asked if she ever borrowed anything from her friends. No.
Do they ever hold things for her? No.
Do they ever give her things? No.
Do they wait so she can go to the bathroom? No.
Does she give them things? Yes.
Is this bullying? If your relationship is dependent on what you will do for the other person is that friendship?
I love their current school. I emailed the principal and received a reply immediately.
No, this behavior will not be tolerated was the response.
Now I just need to figure out how to help her find her self worth and not be dependent on those who exist thrive on others.
Another day of parenting!