I was sitting at the front desk with my coworker who happens to be a fellow nerd and parent. His daughter is going to be Abby from NCIS for Halloween, mine is going to be Doctor Horrible. So we’re gushing about our daughters when he brings up this story from a few years ago about a girl being bullied for liking Star Wars. That’s awful, needless to say. My daughter has an Avengers lunch box this year and sometimes she’ll mention how some kid at school will comment that she likes “boy things”, but she brushes it off and pities their small mindedness. She’s so much like me I could cry.
I’m left wondering though, what is the difference? How is it that this poor girl with the Star Wars bottle is teased horribly, while my daughter with the Avengers lunch box isn’t? Is it location? Size of school?
It also brings me back to my youth. I’ve spoken with other people through the years who got bullied in school. I can think of only one instance when I had this problem. In third grade they put me in a gifted school 2 days a week. This is the only time I was bullied. The boys said I had cooties. I had never even heard that word before and no one would explain what cooties was. Also, back then I loved reading books about astronomy. All the other girls my age were reading teeny bopper magazines and swooning over Kirk Cameron. I wasn’t. (I had a crush on Corey Feldman, but I was more interested in the planet Saturn). I got teased a lot. By the smart kids. For reading academic books. I don’t understand this planet.
That’s the end for me though. Even if I got teased about liking Buffy later on I was never out right harassed over it. In elementary school I want to say it was because I was more prone to violence. If I was mad at you and you laid a hand on me, Oh it was on. In middle school I learned that I didn’t care about fitting in. I liked my small group of friends and everyone else could fuck off. Ironically, this made more people want to be my friend. High school was the worst, but not because of any bullying.
Today, thanks to discovering that I can go to a Star Trek convention without getting teased for not knowing Klingon (this was a genuine concern for me and the reason I didn’t attend geek functions when I was younger), I’m geekier than ever. I like what I like, and that’s the end of that. I hope my daughter continues to be a strong-willed kid who feels the same. I hope that whatever magic it is that keeps her from getting bullied doesn’t fade away. Because it’s harder in school when you are surrounded by animosity. I might be getting old, but I remember that much.
As far as school goes, I’ve told my daughter I’ve got her back. If she wants to wear a suit instead of a dress to the end of the year formal, I will buy her a suit. If the teachers argue I’m going to raise bloody murder and make them wish they’d said yes just so they’d never met me. And her classmates… this is where I really wish I knew what it is that makes some kids get bullied over something that other kids wouldn’t. Did I stop the bullies with my fists in elementary school and the effect lasted the rest of my educational career? How can I help my kid avoid being bullied without her compromising who she is? So far, thankfully, not a problem I’ve had to deal with.
Last weekend I went to the comic book store to pick up the new issue of Gambit. It was my third time there, but the first time I realized I was being stared at. Of course. I’m a female buying Gambit with a daughter asking for Deadpool and we didn’t have a male with us. We kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. I told my daughter I thought people had been staring at us, she said they had been since the first time we walked into the store. I hadn’t noticed, but she had. It didn’t bother her, she said. She says she’s use to being stared for “being a little girl who likes comic books that are not cutesy”. She thinks it’s funny.
So I tell my coworker about this.
Coworker: “So now you feel uncomfortable going alone to that store?”
Me: “What? I don’t care. They can gawk all they want, but I’m getting my Gambit comic book.”
I should add that the guy behind the counter is always really cool and polite. It was some of the customers that were staring. Thank you guy behind the counter! And yes, I look over the Deadpool comics before I let my kid read them. Deadpool is a sick sick bastard. Funny. But sick.