Friday, October 19, 2012

My little bumblebee

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.

Mandy M. Roth Yasmine Galenorn Lauren Dane Michelle M. Pillow Kate Douglas Shawntelle Madison Leah Braemel Aaron Crocco NJ Walters Jax Garren Shelli Stevens Melissa Schroeder Jaycee Clark Shawna Thomas Ella Drake E.J. Stevens Ashley Shaw Jeaniene Frost Rachel Caine Kate Rothwell Jackie Morse Kessler Jaye Wells Kate Angell Melissa Cutler PT Michelle Patrice Michelle Julie Leto Kaz Mahoney Cynthia D'Alba Jesse L. Cairns TJ Michaels Jess Haines Phoebe Conn Jessa Slade Kate Davies Lynne Silver Taryn Blackthorne Margaret Daley Alyssa Day Aaron Dries Lisa Whitefern Rhyannon Byrd Carly Phillips Leslie Kelly Janelle Denison Graylin Fox Lee McKenzie Barbara Winkes Harmony Evans Mary Eason Ann Aguirre Lucy Monroe Nikki Duncan Kerry Schafer Ruth Frances Long


  1. I was too tall, too skinny, to smart, too whatever. Haters are going to hate. I was never one of the cool kids so I was bullied on occasion at school but it was nothing compared to the bullying I got at home.
    I think my kids had it worse at school as some of the social filters we had as kids have eroded to the point of non-existence. In some ways it is better. There is more information out there and role models are speaking up and out against bullies. More needs to be done at home, in schools and in the media.
    My daughter is Jewish and a lesbian living in the bible-belt. How she has grown into the incredible woman she has despite all the negativity is one of life's great mysteries and one of my greatest blessings.
    I think blogging about this is a good thing. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. You're welcome, Donna. Yeah, my daughter has been teased pretty much her entire school life. I've been very proactive, talking to teachers, etc, but this...this worries me more because she wants to handle it herself.

      Thank you for commenting! Yay for your daughter!

  2. That's a really touching story about your daughter, and she's lucky to have you in her life. I was never one of those kids to attack another kid for being different, so I just don't get the mentality of it.

  3. I’m very proud to be a part of this important event, and empowered by all the stories of hope and encouragement I’m reading today. It’s wonderful that people can get together and promote the positive. Thanks for sharing you post.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I'm proud to be a part of it too. And I've shed more tears than I thought I would today. Thank you for commenting!

  4. It hurts my heart to hear that your daughter is experiencing that kind of negativity--and from someone who is supposed to be her friend, too! I sincerely hope she did speak with her coach, and that he/she steps in to do something about it on the field.

    You're right to be angry. It shouldn't have to be that way.

    I'll have you and your daughter in my thoughts. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. Maybe some kind of campaign to teach about bullying can be put together to handle the situation at her school?


    1. Thank you, Jess. I made my mind up to talk to the coach myself.

      They have bully awareness now in the schools, but I'm not sure it's working. On the lighter side, my son came home telling me he was being bullied because some girls were chasing him. He's 6. They were playing a game. But over aware is better than under.

  5. I was bullied all through grade school because I was chubby and apparently ran funny. Even the p.e. teacher laughed at me when I would run. Kids can be so vicious,especially girls. Physical hurts heal in time but verbal hurts stay with you forever. It's a bell you can't unring.

    Tell your bumble bee that there are people she has never, met who love and support her.

    1. Thank you! You're right. She's such a dynamic person but over the years the little comments y teases add up. I will tell her!