Big Kid, Small World
Though part of me still hates to admit it, growing up I got picked on pretty much every day. I was morbidly obese I guess. As a kid, it didn't feel like that at the time. You see yourself like everyone else. And more or less, if you are bullied, you are just trying to get through the day without being made fun of, grabbed, hit, pushed, slapped or punched. I even had a couple of older kids steal my sneakers once— the ones I was wearing. Who takes a guy's shoes? Ha! At least I can laugh about it... now.
Like I said, I was pretty much huge for my age. Well, for any age. And this was when there were no such thing as Big and Tall stores. Unless you could afford to special order clothes that fit right, which my parents could not, then as a big kid you squeezed into an extra large and hoped for the best. Trust me, It wasn't pretty. Picture five pounds of sausage in a one-pound casing.
I was also in the awkward position of not fitting into any specific category. I was good at sports, however not good enough to be one of the jocks. I was okay in school, but not so good that I was a nerd. I was pretty much on the outside looking in no matter where I was. It can be a lost and lonely feeling for someone growing up. And the reason that I am revealing this is because when I think about it, there was no specific word for bullying when I was a kid. Whereas there were bullies, what they did wasn't referred to as bullying. You just got “picked on” or “messed with” for being too big or small, too nerdy or geeky, too different or shy to speak up and put a stop to it. Being taunted was simply a part of growing up. It was also never seen as a big deal, not by the kids it was happening to or the adults such kids went to for help. Luckily for me, I was blessed with true friends and family members. Even at a young age when so much is based on how you look on the outside, my loved ones managed to see beneath all the layers to the person who was underneath. They got me through adversity and made all of those unbearable times a little bit easier. And even though I almost never, EVER speak about those days, these people still mean the world to me.
Now lets jump forward to the present day: Bullying remains a growing problem in our society. A society in which my young daughter has to reside every day. Regarding weight, my daughter Meghan was cursed with bad genes on both sides of her family. (Sorry about that, Honey. You deserve better.) At only 7 years old, Meghan is beautiful, but definitely big for her age. I know that she has heard a few snide comments from other kids. Luckily for her, she has self-confidence that I never had. Whereas I would go off and cower and feel bad for myself, Meg is witty, clever and quick to answer back to bullies. She is also never afraid to go to an adult if she needs help. That's another area where we differ. Likewise, I sat back and silently accepted a lot of what happened to me when I was a kid, but not Meg. All bets are off when it comes to my daughter. In fact, Meghan might even be a little too quick to raise her hands against someone she thinks is doing something wrong to her. I think any father, especially the father of a young girl, will tell you that this rides the fine line between really good and really bad behavior. Regardless, I wouldn't want any kid to go through any kind of abuse growing up, whether physical or mental— least of all my own child.