Raise your hand if you’ve been bullied or picked on as a youth. Yeah? Me, too. And, for me, it was just over “normal” stuff, like being overweight, wearing glasses and being nerdy, and…well, when all else failed, just existing as a grade school female. Those of us who have been bullied know that it really does suck. And, those of us who have kids who wear braces, who may not stand perfectly straight, or who bear large scars down the length of their backs – well, these can just make them fodder for more abuse from their peers.
We, as a Scoliosis family, have been blessed. Both of my kids wore a brace to school at one time or another (for my daughter, it was 6 years), and they claim (and I believe them) that they were not bullied once. NOT ONCE! That is almost inconceivable. But, in our teeny tiny town, where the kids’ classrooms more closely resemble a family gathering (and many times, the classrooms ARE literally family gatherings), they all know each other very well. This can be a blessing and a curse, but I think it was a blessing in our case. Some kids are still not the nicest, but they all have issues – and they all know each other’s issues. So, if you want to throw a stone, it won’t be long before the stones easily come back to you. But, in addition, I genuinely think that, like any family, these kids really care about each other. So, they may not always be happy with one another, but they don’t really want to hurt each other deep down.
Many of the people reading this article, however, HAVE experienced some nasty bullying – or, just plain teasing from peers. It’s very hurtful and it can make a child feel very alone. I’m here to say, though, that all it takes is a few besties – one or two REALLY good friends to align with, and life feels a whole lot better. You don’t need to be the most popular kid in school, you just need those few friends that you can count on – no matter what.
My kids both have that small tribe of friends. My daughter is graduating this year and leaving her tribe to go find new allies, but these girls, pictured below, have been so important to my daughter and to our family, that I wanted to recognize them. They don’t judge each other, they support each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, and they encourage each other in school, rather than compete AGAINST each other. I love them like they are my own kiddos – after all, I’ve seen 3 out of 4 of these girls grow up since preschool – together.
If your child comes home discouraged because they were made fun of for something related to their Scoliosis, I can’t give any better advice than the old cliche’ – “If they are making fun of you, you don’t want them for friends anyway.” It’s cliche’ because it is absolutely true! But, I would recommend taking a few more proactive steps. The next step I would recommend is to ask your child, “Who seems nice that you DO think would make a good friend?” and then maybe plan something special for your child and that other child to do together. Friendships can grow with just a little water and fertilizer. So, instead of focusing on the “rotten vines”, cultivate the good ones, and turn those “bully” tears into “bestie” talks. Once they find their tribe, the naysayers will fade into the background.
I pray that all of your children can find their tribe of besties, just like my daughter has with these girls. To Faith, Shelby, and Tristen – this Mom thanks you for everything you have been to my daughter, is proud of everything you have accomplished to this point, and is excited for everything you will do to make a positive impact in the future. And, those in the tribe who are not pictured (you know who you are) – the same goes for you! Congrats to the Vikings Class of 2019!
Cynthia chose a backless prom dress – to show off her well-earned scar!