October is anti-bullying awareness month and I am honored to join together with other authors to raise awareness of this widespread problem.
Some consider a little teasing part of growing up. I know I did. At twelve, just entering junior high, my mom moved us from a tiny town in Western Washington where we attended a school of about twenty children to a fairly large city where my moccasins, dresses and old-fashioned clothing just didn't fit it. Yup, I was a social outcast. I was told to ignore it, but you know, some of those scars still remain.
But I honestly don't want to talk about me.
My daughter is a vibrant, gorgeous little girl with curly red hair and the biggest blue eyes you've ever seen. She was also born with Poland's Syndrome and Brachydactyly. Which means she doesn't have a pectoralis major muscle, the one that goes from your shoulder to your breastbone--It looks like the right side of her chest is caved in--and her fingers and toes are stunted and misshaped. At two she had to have surgery because she was missing several teeth and adult teeth were growing sideways in her gums. Her jaw is also misformed a little. She has an under and over bite. She doesn't have the muscle to support her breast growth on one side, which will mean a future surgery once she starts developing more.
She wasn't able to suck when she was born. The doctors and lactation coaches tried everything, but she was labeled failure to thrive. I don't think I can convey what that does to a mother. I finally followed my gut and fed her with an eyedropper.
The doctors said she'd need physical therapy. She went from two months to five months when the physical therapist threw her hands up in the air and said she didn't know how she did it, but she was on the late side of normal and catching up.
That's when I started calling her my little bumble bee. No one had told her she shouldn't be able to push herself up or roll over. She just did. She walked at nine months and kept up with the other kids. I was told she'd never have strength on her right side. No sports, tumbling, etc, but she could live a fairly normal life.
When she was two she started going cross-eyed. I took her to the eye doctor to discover she couldn't see very well. When we put glasses on her for the first time, she looked around the room and said, "I see people!" She never took the glasses off.
She was a head shorter than all the other kids in Kindergarten. It was all I could do not to run after her and take her back home. She was the only of my kids that just smiled at me and waved goodbye.
It was with a bit of reservation that, after she insisted, I enrolled her in gymnastics. She thrived. So far she has done everything she set her mind to do. A bumble bee.
But now she's in junior high. She just joined the cheerleading squad. She's already come home several times telling me that the other girls have told her she's too short, too fat, and asking her why she is even there. Her best friend even got in on the name calling. She's started asking me about her hands, and why her fingers aren't straight and when is she going to have a growth spurt. She wants to fit in. She wants to be like the other girls. She won't be.
I've spoken to her and she wants to handle it herself. She talked to her coach, but I wonder. Girls can be vicious.
So I worry. When will the taunts start dimming her light? How many times does it take to hear she's not good enough before she starts believing it?
And I'm angry, because she doesn't deserve it. But then no child does.
Below you'll find the links to the other author's blogs. Thank you for visiting.