Summer is supposed to be easy. Carefree. No schedule, no tests, no worries. But let me tell you there is a lot of worry going on around here.
Ian never wants me out of his sight. I can normally grocery shop without him, but now he’s right there in the produce aisle with me lest he is sobbing at home that something made a sound and I’m not there. I told him the other day I was going to mow the lawn. He looked up from Fortnite and quivered, “You’re not … leaving, are you???” Dude. By definition, I will be on our property. You can hear the mower and see me out any window in the house.
As I was three quarters done with the lawn, he came racing out the back door. He looked pained and he had his fingers in his ears from the noise. I stopped the mower, killed the engine, paused my music, took out my headphones.
“Are you ok, Stink? What’s up?”
“Are you done yet?”
I just blinked at him. My child is in the gifted and talented program, I swear to you. And he just asked me if the lawn that I’m clearly in the middle of and has sections which are demonstrably taller than others was done.
So yeah, he’s been like a very large barnacle. If he had his way, I would wear him around in a backpack like Master Blaster.
Adding to that mix, he’s been sorta argumentative with me. He tried to tell me this weekend that “pumptism” is an actual disease. I said, “I highly doubt that.” He countered, “Yes, it is! Look it up!”
You know what, you little asshole, I will. And so I looked it up and read the definition to him that it was a term MADE UP by a YOU-TUBER. And so maybe he should shut his trap about internet diseases, Dr. Short Stuff.
We were driving home from a movie last night and he asked me about the order of homes the orphans went to in “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I told him I wasn’t sure. He said he knew they went to X and Y but he wasn’t sure in which order. I conjectured that it was Y and then X but I wasn’t sure. “No! That’s not right!”
“You know what? Why are you even dragging me into this discussion? I was happy over here just singing along to Hamilton songs. But you asked me a question just to tell me I’m wrong. And I’m super sick of having you tell me I’m wrong all damn day. I broke up with the last person who spent all his time telling me I was wrong.”
We had a tense ride home and a quiet dinner. I didn’t want anything to do with the little jerk.
I remember Rich telling me that people have to be right when they have low self-esteem. I tried to think of what would make Ian feel insecure. And then I remembered the kid at camp. Cameron is literally half the size of Ian but has been harassing him and even hitting him during camp. It’s hard being a giant child. Ian could snap this kid in half, but he doesn’t. And if he even defends himself, it just spins up this little guy, so he goes all howler monkey on him. And Ian didn’t feel like he could get away from him at camp.
After two weeks of this little asshole, Ian needed to feel like he had some control over things. Some power. Some security. And that manifests itself in being right about stupid stuff.
We went upstairs and he was super apologetic about his attitude. I told him I think I knew what was wrong. We talked about how bullies tend to be that way because something isn’t going well for them in their own lives. And they project it on other people. And that maybe he was mean to me because he couldn’t get away from the people being mean to him. He nodded his head and started sobbing.
So we made a plan. He would tell the counselors very specifically that he didn’t feel safe and he was being bullied. And if they did nothing, he would use his phone and call me. We talked about how if someone tries to insult you but you treat it as a compliment it usually confuses them and frustrates them.
“You’re fat. You look like a girl.”
“Thanks! I get to wear my hair however I want and I eat lots of really healthy food. I’m really tall and strong and I’m going to be really tall and strong as a teenager and adult too.”
We talked about how bullies need to be fed like a flame. If you can starve the flame of air, it will usually fizzle. It takes practice to do it. And I told him if he ever hits a kid in self-defense, I will never be upset with him and I will support him to the ends of the Earth.
We did camp drop off this morning. I talked to the Coach. He knew about Cameron and said they had separated them as much as they could last week. And Cameron isn’t at camp this week. I told him about the other two possible kids that may pick on him and Coach said he would keep an eye out. And that he would talk to Ian about it. And he would make sure Ian felt safe. He thanked me for bringing it up.
I reminded Coach that one of my favorite things about Norfolk Academy was that as a sensitive kid I felt safe and heard by the adults. It was exactly what I needed growing up. And I need my kid to feel safe at NA summer camp if he’s ever going to attend NA school in the future.
We took Ian out of the afternoon swim lessons too. It was exhausting him and he was a hot mess when I picked him up. He wants to go to the library in the afternoons. Fine by me, dude.
It’s been an emotional week. Irritation, smothering, whining, arguing, crying, feeling hopeless, making a plan, feeling heard, having some hope.
I hate bullies. I want to smash their faces in with a brick. And I also want to scoop them up and find out who hurt them to make them so mean. Then maybe smash that person with a brick. It’s a long road to get to Bully Zero that started it all. Probably Cain getting shitty with Abel.
Shitty people exist at all ages. Living well is the best revenge.