How often do you hear about the effects of bus bullying? “You fat hippo! That is why the bus is leaning!” This statement was followed by laughter and pointing and more laughter. Though this was over 20 years ago, I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t remember how I felt when I heard those words. I remember looking to the bus driver hoping she could save me from the ring leader; a boy who made it his business to say something ugly to me every time I got on the bus.
This truly was the longest ride home. I was captive in a moving vehicle, surrounded by dozens of children who were just happy this bully was making me his pet project and his venom wasn’t directed to them. I remember how everyone was scared of him, including me. He was a tall boy; perhaps, taller than most of us on that bus. He used his height to intimate and get his way. He sat where he wanted and if he didn’t like you, you didn’t sit next to him.
It is funny after all these years I remember these types of details. Pain and shame have a strange way of keeping even small, minute details together and relevant.
My bus ride
I have always been overweight my entire life. I was bullied throughout school up until my freshman year of college. I was reminded almost every day of how ugly, fat and useless I was. As I reflect on the effects of being bullied, it is hard to hear these words consistently and not start to believe them.
The bus ride was especially brutal because once the tall boy started in on me; the other children decided they needed to chime in. Some of these children I believe joined in to try to be cool, like they thought the tall boy was. Some children joined in because they thought it would keep the tall boys focus on me and not them.
There was nowhere to neither run nor hide. The bus driver was trying to get everyone home, safely. She couldn’t help me. I had seen others try to get her attention when someone was picking on them. All she could do was tell them to stop and she kept her eyes on the road. Sometimes, it seemed like it got worse after they said something to her. I couldn’t wait to get home. I just had to sit there and take it, while marinating in my shame and pain!
Now that I am older, wiser and know more about why bullies bully, I can reflect back on this bus bully and ask myself a few questions. Was the tall boy being bullied, also? Was he being bullied in school or at home and this is why he couldn’t wait to take out his frustration and pain on me on the bus? Did the tall boy not like himself and the only way he could feel some measure of power is to put me down to make himself feel better?
What would I say to this tall boy today? I would hope whatever pain you were in then didn’t allow you to grow up to be an adult who bullies his children! I hope today you are a better person who understands children watch everything you do and say. My biggest hope is you are creating a great example to break the bullying cycle and your children do not treat others as you treated me on that bus!
On the million to one chance the tall boy is reading this blog, I have one last thing to say: I forgive you but as you can see, I have not forgotten.
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