October is Bullying Prevention Month. It’s something that hits pretty close to the heart for me. When I was little, my family was the only Asian family in our community. It’s hard being the only girl whose face is flat, and eyes are shaped differently. Add to that how much I love Math and reading. I was a prime target for bullies.
My name is Lamphone (pronounced Lampoon). It’s spelled like lamp-phone. Admit it, you’re doing it already. You saw the pronunciation and said to yourself, “Like National Lampoon!” I’ve taken ownership of it now, but when I was younger it hurt. I’ve also been called everything that rhymes with “lampoon.” Harpoon. Typhoon. Pontoon.
When I was in second grade my close friends started calling me simply “Poon.” Now, you’re all giggling. I do, too--now. I even enjoy a good laugh when my husband tells me that he talked about me at work, and no one believed I let him call me that. In second grade we had no clue what “poon” was slang for. In fourth grade, the boys learned. Honestly, fourth and fifth grades were probably the hardest years of my youth.
In fourth grade I also got glasses. I was Asian (with a dirty sounding name), smart, and wore glasses. It was like I had a target on my back.
My parents were only informed twice that I had problems being picked on. I was embarrassed. I felt that there must’ve been something wrong with me, and that was why I was being singled out. I got into a fight once in second grade and again in fourth--both times against boys. It was no fun, and the punishment sucked. I do not condone fighting at all.
It took a long time for me to develop a thick skin. It was the great group of friends I made in middle school, and kept through high school, that finally helped me realize it was okay to let my freak flag fly. Although we’re not as close as we once were, they are still very near and dear to my heart. (You know who you are Partee Possee!)
It breaks my heart to see children being picked on and bullied now. I know how those kids feel. I want to run up to them and give them the biggest bear hug ever and take them for ice cream. I fear that my own children will become the targets of bullying. It’s an anxiety I live with everyday. Right now, my heart is racing imagining my children being unhappy at school. I have mixed-race children. One is a major bookworm, one is extremely emotional, one is a tomboy. All have things about them that someone could use negatively against them.
Children learn what they are taught. It’s a simple concept. I try to teach my kids that everyone is, in general, a good person. Everyday brings an opportunity for a new friend. And just because someone is not the same as you, there is nothing wrong with them. I hope beyond hope that other parents are doing the same with their own kids.
The End of Bullying Begins With You!
For more info on National Bullying prevention month, click here.