Standing Up To Myself!
OMG. I just realized I’m a bully!
Wikipedia defines bullying as:
“the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations for such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size or ability.“
I totally bully my kids. Every. Day.
In fact, just yesterday my 9 year old and I were coming back from dropping off her friend from a play date at our house when I totally bullied her. We got out of the van and she ran to the front door, which was locked. I got out, grabbed the groceries, my purse, some garbage from the floor of the van, and the keys. Our door is sticky and a pain to open – you have to pull on the handle, otherwise it’s too hard to turn the key. I told my daughter to pull on the handle. She pushed. I said “pull the door!” and she stood there… frozen… staring at the handle. I said “PULL THE DOOR!!! PULL!” She pushed down the handle and pushed the door. I was incredulous. She said “I don’t know what you mean!” and I was like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I MEAN?! WHAT DOES THE WORD PULL MEAN?!?!”
By this time my husband had heard the commotion from inside and opened the door. He said “what’s up?” and I snarked “she apparently doesn’t know what the word “PULL” means! DUH!” Immediately after I said it I thought “I shouldn’t have said that!” but I was SO flustered! The stuff was heavy and it was past beer o’clock and I just wanted to get in the frigging door.
See? There I go, making excuses again! I do this ALL THE TIME! There’s always a reason I’m yelling at my kids or my husband: “I’m in a hurry!”, “it’s their own fault for pissing me off!”, “I’m hormonal.”, “I’m tired.”, “we’re late!”, “it’s Wednesday!”
I threaten my kids daily when I want them to do something. “Go brush your teeth right now or you’re not going to hip hop class tonight!” or “pick that up right now or you are not going to acting class this weekend!” or “apologize to your sister RIGHT NOW or you will go to bed without desert! We do NOT hit in this house!!”
Oh sure, there are times when I’m all patience and rainbows. But when they’ve asked me one too many times (or ignored my requests more than three times), I snap and the bully in me comes spewing like projectile vomit out of my mouth. And, like projectile vomit, it’s unstoppable. This behaviour is unacceptable, and I must be stopped!
It’s time to stand up to myself.
No, not FOR myself – I have no trouble with THAT! I also have no trouble standing up for others. In my fight to let my son wear dresses I’ve stood up to my husband, his sister, and my very own Mother! “Why is he wearing a dress?” asks his favourite aunt. “Says the woman with a pixie cut and wearing pants!” I snark. “Boys should wear boy clothes!” says my Mom. “If you don’t like the way he dresses, that’s fine. But if you dare say anything, I will show you the door and you will not be allowed back.” was my reply. That year she made him a dress.
“He’s going to be the only boy in kindergarden with a closet full of dresses!” complained my husband last summer. I squared my shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes and said “Yup!”, daring him to object further. He dared not.
I’ve done my best to teach my kids to stand up for themselves and others, yelling “be kind today!” as they walk up the driveway to school. Despite that, I’ve witnessed them being mean to others. I don’t allow the words “idiot” or “stupid” in my house. Still, I’ve heard them use those words about each other. I don’t make any comments about peoples’ intelligence, what they’re wearing, or how they think. It’s not working – I catch my husband doing this all too often!
Let people be who they want to be, that’s my motto. This motto, while admirable, has not served me well on the inside. No, I should NOT allow myself to be who I am! I am a bully! It’s the”behaviours used to assert such dominance” that include “verbal threats” that are “directed repeatedly towards particular targets” with the “rationalization” of “strength, size and ability”. It may as well scream “THIS IS YOU!!!”
Wearing a pink shirt one day each year doesn’t help. It also doesn’t help when my husband says “you’re being an asshole.” I just get all defensive, even though deep down I know he’s right. No, I must have a talk with myself, because admitting it is the first step to stopping the behaviour.