All my troubles seemed so far away...
One of the oldest pictures I have of me
Actually, no. Yesterday, I wished a school friend Happy Birthday. She's a lovely lady and was a lovely girl when we were at school. Yesterday, her birthday, marked the 40 year anniversary of a major event in my young life.
In 2014 I wrote a blog about the event.
Today is an anniversary for me. It's not one that you'd think of celebrating. It's on this day almost 40 years ago that I was attacked by school 'mates' as I was walking to catch the bus home from my friend's birthday tea.
Four of them approached us; two girls, two boys and things escalated fast. By the time they'd finished, I had been kicked in the head, my ear cartilage was broken, I had bruises all up my arms, and my back had been stamped on repeatedly.
My parents took it further and the police took two of the attackers to court.
I had to endure the next day at school and the main instigator and her friends (who hadn't been there at the time) coming up to me all day, saying I was overreacting and that it had been a joke.
When they realised that it had got serious and they were going to be in court for it, things began to get nastier. I was in the same classes as the two girls and the opinion of our year was divided. I'd already been beaten physically, but that year I had to endure the mental beating-up too - not just from those who had been there on that playing field at the time either. Everyone had an opinion on what had happened, depending on who they preferred to listen to.
When the court case came around, the Magistrate (juvenile court) asked me a question I've never forgotten.
"Are you frightened of this girl?"
I replied that yes, I was frightened of her. I didn't say she'd kicked seven shades of shit out of me, why the hell wouldn't I be? But maybe if I had, I wouldn't have come to this thought-process:
Yes, she and three others intimidated me to the point that my mind decided not to fight back because I'd save myself a more severe beating - hindsight is 20-20 but I'll never know if that notion would have held true. One of the boys had no problem in hitting girls, I know that because he hit me, so would one or all of them have jumped in if I had started getting the better of the instigator? I'll never know, the only thing I do know is this, they did beat me, they did intimidate me - there and after, for months - but they did NOT kill me.
I survived, I developed, and after the case I started thinking. "Yes, she DID frighten me, but if that was her best effort, she didn't kill me. I got up, I went on and I believe I'm a stronger and more tenacious person because of it."
Did they do me a favour that evening back in the 70s? Hell NO! I took the situation and I built on it. I get the reward, I get the praise, the kudos, I did it.
I survived it all.
So do I celebrate this anniversary? No, not particularly, but I remember.
When you grow up and make relationships and then make babies, such incidents seem so far away as you're making a life for yourself, but one day something may trigger the memory and it slams back to beat you up all over again.
Back in the olden days - 1981
My children weren't bullied to the point of permanent damage like I was (lower lumbar problems because of the main instigator stamping on my back). My children weren't bullied quite so much as I was because fore-warned is fore-armed and I made sure they knew how to defend themselves.
Please note, I did not say they were taught how to fight. That's not what self defence classes teach - or at least, not the reputable ones.
From an early age, my children were encouraged to take Free-style Karate, Boxing, Ju-Jitsu and Guitar lessons (don't ask).
You can't tell by looking at them, but these kids are Superheroes - to me.
They know how to defend themselves and unless it's against a mob, (in which case, they should RUN!) they should be able to keep themselves from bodily harm.
How I wish I'd been given that opportunity.
My son saw two lads kicking another one as the victim lay on the ground. He stopped them kicking the lad and the two bullies turned on him. His boxing skills came in handy - he floored the pair and they ran off, threatening to get their mother to come and sort me out.
Built for speed... @storminatcup
He told me what he'd done and I was proud that he'd gone to someone's aid.
She came to my door, all belligerent and threatening to call the police on my son if I didn't do something about him.
I told her to call the police. I also told her that the police would likely look more sternly upon her two sons for kicking a lad when he was already on the ground.
She didn't believe me and she went ahead with her threat and phoned the police.
I found out from my son that the police told her exactly what I had predicted.
Monkey and a Barbary Ape
Her kids would be in more trouble for attacking the other kid and my son would get praised for stepping in and stopping them.
Sydney Harbour Sea-Life Centre
Over the years, my kids have come to me for help in such situations - the worse one was a 14 year-old threatening my 6 year old daughter. She was a persistent bully. I had to tell her to leave my daughter alone and when she went back after @danielles and threatened to beat her up if she told me the second time, I went to her mother.
The trick here is to make sure your children know you're there for them and when someone says, "Don't tell your mum." that's exactly what they SHOULD do.
The excuse from that mother - "Well, she's adopted..."
I'm thankful that MY children have never caught the bullying bug - they would both rather stick their necks out to help someone being bullied than they would pick on anyone.
That brings me to a question...
Do bullies learn their behaviour or is it an instinctive 'top dog' behaviour?