One of my biggest fears for Little Dude is that he will be bullied. According to one ABC News report, 90 percent of children with Asperger's report being bullied on a daily basis. The thought of that makes me positively nauseous.
Not that special needs kids are the only ones being bullied, but they are perhaps less able to defend themselves. Kids on the autism spectrum, in particular, are less likely to be able to read social cues and can often end up being the odd one out. But bullies know no bounds. A couple years ago one of my daughters was being bullied, and I swear I just wanted to punch that mean little girl in the throat.
Do you all find that? If another kid is mean to one of your kids, do you go from being really nice homeroom mom to seething psychotic in 2.3 seconds? The Pork Lo Maniac kept having problems with another girl in her class. The girl would make comments about how slowly the PLM writes (she has a fine motor delay), until the PLM cried. Then, at recess, she would make fun of the PLM for crying in school.
That kind of stuff turns me into Drew Barrymore from Firestarter. Isn't that awful? Some little punk trash-talks my kid and I'm ready to go all pyrokinetic on them? What kind of person am I?
The kind that makes little kids go *poof* when they mess with my babies. The mommy kind.
I think it's because I know what it feels like. When I was eleven, my family moved to a new school on the first day of seventh grade. Literally, we left a house in one town, my mother drove me to a new school, and at the end of the day I went home to a new house. Seventh grade is already a delightfully awkward time, but of course I couldn't be at least half-normal walking in the door of a new school. Oh, no.
The weekend prior, I had been at my dad's house. My sister's kitten had treed itself, and (not out of love for animals, mind you, but to impress my little sister with my tree-climbing abilities) I rescued the kitten out of the tree. The poison-ivy laden tree.
So I wasn't just the new girl at school. I was the new girl with that stuff on her face. What a lovely, lovely time in my life that was. My new school was tougher, and the seventh grade girls girls wore a lot of makeup, and heels with jeans, and feathered hair. You know how at the end of Grease, Olivia Newtown-John is all skankified and whorey? That was kind of the "in" look at my new middle school. Also, Marshall's didn't sell Benneton shirts. I was screwed.
Once, in the locker room, I was cornered by one of the meaner girls. Her confidence bolstered by her shiny new parachute pants, she made fun of me for being a "prep" and said something brilliantly incisive like, "we don't want no preps in this locker room." Because I have always had this mouth on me, I commented that at least I wasn't wearing plastic pants. I can't believe she didn't deck me on the spot. I think she would have, but that's about when the gym teacher strolled in.
Basically, I lived in terror after that. Eventually, my luck ran out and there she was, in the girls' room. Finally, years of battling with my brother paid off. She threw a punch and I blocked it. She grabbed my arms and I twisted free, which surprised her long enough for me to land a punch on her shoulder. I didn't really hurt her, but I shocked the hell out of everyone in the bathroom. She never physically threatened me again.
Doesn't it seem like one of those wonderful moments in the movies? In Hollywood, after someone has a triumph over a bully, they become instantly popular. That did not happen in my case. Also, I was still terrified of Ms. Parachute Pants. Fortunately, her electric blue eyeshadow and made her easy to spot in a crowd. She couldn't sneak up on me because the parachute pants made that helpful zip-zip-zip sound, and I swear I could smell her Cover Girl liquid foundation from a mile away.
Even some of the girls who weren't expressly mean girls seemed happy to target me. I was new, I had poison ivy on my face, and my clothes were wrong. At the time, I lumped them in with all the other mean girls. Later, in high school, I realized they were basically nice kids who were probably relieved and thrilled there was someone new to deflect Ms. Parachute Pants off of them.
It's possible that I am hyper-aware of the bullying issue with my kids. Particularly with Little Dude. I brought it up during the IEP and was reassured that bullying doesn't happen. Yeah ... I'm hard-pressed to believe that bullying isn't happening in that school right now.
One of my wise readers suggested that I can punch bullies in the throat with my mind. In fact, she suggested that I could start calling idiots "Mind Punch" instead of other obscenities I might be thinking. This seems like an excellent idea. Here are some suggested usages. To an irritating bully: "Hey, Mind Punch, leave my boy alone." To the principal, "If you think autistic kids aren't being bullied, you're a bigger Mind Punch than I thought." Out loud in the car, while you're driving with the kids: "That Mind Punch just cut me off!"
Little Dude can probably actually punch people in the throat with his mind, because, you know, he's a Jedi Master. I don't know what else to do right now, while bullying weighs on my mind. But at least now when I talk to the principal, I am buoyed by the thought: "Mind Punch."