We’re getting into the season where we gather with friends and family rehashing old stories and random memories from the distant past. We could do that all year long, but it seems like the first really cold days of the year bring out the tales of yore. Well, maybe not yore, but funny, and not so funny, stories from when we were young.
My son Garrett and his best friend Randy have a friend Alexis who was bullied when she was young. Granted Alexis is sort of small and more than a tad weird, but like many children who were different she was a target. She was also a Vampire with rather old fashioned clueless parents. That can happen to a child even if their parents aren’t Vampires. Luckily, she overcame her experiences with a shrug and thanks to a few good friends, and an arsenal full of mental tools to prevent any future assholes from bothering her. She shared some of her stories with me. But she also shared some of the good outcomes. Alexis didn’t let the bad stuff define the good things in her life or her successes.
My brother Val and I were sitting at the table over our 3rd or 4th glasses of wine, and I thought about an incident that happened when we were children way back in the early 1870’s.
One cold November afternoon Val and I were walking home from the local bookstore. I think I was about eleven, and he was twelve.
As we walked down the Sacramento streets, and out of view of the shops and general activity, someone called from behind us.
We turned around to see a group of five large children about our age. There were four boys and a girl, all dressed in garish colors, grinning with huge teeth.
“We are going to beat you to a pulp, then rip your flesh off of your bones, then chew you up and spit you out,” said the largest boy, a massive young man with greasy brown hair.
“Five against two,” said Val. “How brave of you.”
“Blood sucking ghouls,” yelled the girl, who was my age but twice my size.
“Excuse me?” I said, “you are nothing but flea bitten dogs covered with unfashionable uncouth clothing that you must have stolen from a freak show.”
They all growled, showing their very human looking teeth.
“You are nothing without a full moon. NOTHING,” I yelled.
Then Val started barking, and I started to howl mocking them.
They approached us ready for an attack. Then Val lifted up his right hand and held it out. He stared intently at the young Werewolf gang.
“I am going to try something,” he whispered to me. I knew what he was going to try. As young Vampires we were just starting to come into our own with our unique abilities.
“Look at me young wolves,” he said. “Forget what you see. Forget who we are. Sit down and howl at the afternoon sun. Howl like the wolves you are. Remove your human clothing and all signs of being people. Roll in the dirt. Be wolves.”
They listened to Val’s calm quiet voice, then they all started to howl and take off their clothing. We ran away as five naked children rolled in the dirt as they howled and barked like dogs.
We told our parents about it later. They were both amused and horrified. We could have gotten ourselves badly hurt if not killed. We’ll maybe not killed, but it could have ended in a bad way. They decided not to speak to the parents of the bully Werewolves. That would have done no good at all since their parents were bigger assholes than their bully children.
Is there a point to this story? Maybe.
As children go back to school, and adults go back to work, we must all watch for the bullies, in the classroom, on the playgrounds, and in the workplace. Be strong and brave like two Vampire children. Use your words. Be calm. Walk away. Ask for help. Don’t let them see you react or show any blood. Bullies are like sharks – they bite even more if they see you bleeding. And like sharks they don’t think about what they are doing. In the end they are miserable unhappy beings. Don’t be like them, or give in. They’re nothing but worms wiggling on the sidewalk after a rainstorm.
If you think your child is being bullied do something about it. Talk to the school. Raise hell with the parents of the bullies. Talk to your HR department (who will more than likely do nothing, but at least you tried.) Remove the online accounts and start new ones or take a break from online activity (online trolls are just evil and difficult to remove – and they’re mean mindless cowards.)
Talk to your child and let them know that it will pass. One day they will be happy and successful, and the bullies will still be the losers that they are right now. With all of the education options available now you can also move your kid to another school. Unfortunately, bullies are never punished and asking kids to “shake hands”, and saying “kids will be kids” is bull shit.
Talk to your kids before they are bullied or you even suspect something might be up. It might hurt now, but if they keep the mindset that it won’t last forever and that they will not let the bully win they’ll be ahead. Bullies are assholes. Tell your kids that. The bullies don’t matter. Just ignore them. Don’t give in to them. Rise above them. Tell your children, and yourself, not to let the bullies define your life. Only you are allowed to define who you are – not some asshole.
Stay safe everyone. Wear a mask when required (don’t be an asshole and fight it, just do it.) Get your shots. Hug your dog and cat. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who are ancient, might need extra help, or are alone. And as always kiss a Vampire (you’ll thank me for it later.)
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman