This will probably get me in trouble, but I’m used to being the designated asshole. I know what it’s like to be shunned. To be the target of passive aggressive emotional manipulation where someone uses social media as a tool of emotional abuse. In a manner of exiling the intended target. Examples are as follows, but not limited: Allowing their children to obtain Facebook accounts and sending friend requests to YOUR friends — that they have no reason sending friend requests to — as if to say: see, there, the problem is you and “Look at me, I’m hurting you!” Or not allowing your own family members to even follow you on Twitter. Blocking you, deleting you, when you express an opinion that’s different than theirs — or, particularly, expressing one which makes them look bad.
It’s a form of abuse. And it’s the most cowardly kind.
Worst of all, I know what it’s like to have no one stick up for you. For the people you love the most to just allow it to happen — that’s the part that hurts. Not that people still conduct themselves in manipulative, adolescent acts of intimidation like that, but that others that you love most ignore it, allow it, and enable it.
I refuse to make that mistake.
I have to stand up for all that I love — which is all kids — and social media has taken simplistic beauty of childhood and turned it into troubling and disturbingly adult-like forms of gaslighting and manipulation. I mean, I read. I know what social media and social media bullying is doing to children. I’ve been the target of it from those that are related to me, and then I’ve been cyberbullied by those I don’t even know.
And it’s not cool. And any bullying — coming from anybody, any time — is not ok.
Family is forever. Friends come and go. Boys come and go. Family is, or should be, forever. Cousins are the first friends you ever have, and when done well, may be the last. Cousins grow up and have twins and give you a reason to love life again. Cousins grow up and keep those twins so you can go to work knowing your kids are being bribed with Whoppers to say, “Touchdown Big Orange!” That’s what cousins do.
They fight. They make up. They don’t always have friends or significant others that you always like (remember the ferret, Jessica?) and that’s okay. Growing up, Jennifer (who wasn’t really a cousin, but still…kinda counts as one) didn’t like a lot of my “stuck up” friends, and in high school, she had one friend who really didn’t like me.
She didn’t have to. I didn’t like her either.
If every time we did something that wasn’t right — or not nice — when we were growing up, if someone’s parents ordered their kids to never speak to us again, we’d all be out of friends by third grade. Kids do bad stuff. They hurt each others feelings. They say mean things. Weren’t we all told to hug, kiss (Wanda Patton) and work it out? I’m glad people’s parents didn’t shun me for doing something wrong.
Or else Jessica Robinson would have never been able to speak to me again when her mother picked us up from a party in ninth grade and I (and others) was falling down drunk. She never told on us,but good gosh, Mrs Esther gave us a guilt ridden lecture that was even worse than ratting us out to our Moms.
There were multiple parents who probably knew I would end up in A.A. long before I did, but they never once demanded their kids write me off. They believed in me.
And if there’s any legacy that my Uncle Chunky left in me with the responsibility of passing it on to the next generation, I hope it’s that: grace.
And grace means forgiving even when THEY don’t deserve it — not for them, but for you.
In fact, that’s probably the only thing that has saved some of those aforementioned cyberbullies from a real life butt whooping — the lessons of friendship we were all taught, and forced to sustain, as kids.
Then, there are some times that the only example of kindness that some children will ever see are you or your children. My Uncle Chunky always told me that, maybe, they — the “mean” kid — don’t have any examples of kindness at home. You be the example for them. You be the one that shows them forgiveness. You be the one that teaches them how to be strong enough to move on from a slight. If I wrote everybody off that posed an offensive question — like, How come you didn’t grow any bigger? — I would have ran out of people to talk to in elementary school.
Sometimes I feel like my time with my twins taught me how to be a professional referee, because somebody’s always doing something to the other one.
Sissy is touching me, sissy has it, sissy do it, sissy is looking at me!
I know every parent reading this is shouting: “Welcome to my world, girl!”
It was the first time I ever found myself thinking…. wow, this is what a teacher must feel like — and she has a whole classroom of this!
I’m so used to always being in the doghouse and ignored that I figured I might as well say what I think, because I can take it. I can take the abuse. But as someone who’s been the recipient of that type of passive aggressive anger, I know how it hurts. So I can only imagine how it feels to a child — it’s just not cool.
Cousins are forever. And kids should be taught resilience and forgiveness — not shunning, manipulation, and overbearing demands. No one is perfect. No one!
And no one is ever right all the time.
Thank God that isn’t required or Jennifer Patton would have wrote me off a long time ago. And if we walked away from the idea that family must, always, love each other — me and Jessica Smithson might have never made up. We fought over Barbies every week. (She stole mine.)
But we did. And that’s cousins.
And this cyber abuse and bullying that kids are hit with now — from ALL sides — saddens me.
Barbies were soooooo much easier.
I guess since the only people that are related to me, and the ones who aren’t, who take issue with every single thing I say, have blocked me or are not allowed to be “friends” with me, I can express myself freely without fear of retaliation. Even though doing so before, oddly enough, has brought blowback from those not even on my friend’s list who deleted and blocked me for that very reason.
I’ve never been able to win. So, might as well do what I’ve always done.
Just write what I think. It’s what I do. It’s all I know.
As Maya Angelou once wrote: You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust — I rise.
I love that poem. And…
I love you all… family, friends, and people not voting for Trump.
Hee hee. 😉