Monday, August 24, 2009

Musical Monday: 'Don't Laugh At Me'

Here it is already, back to Musical Monday. Where does the time go? I'm not feeling real inspired this morning to find a song and do a personal journey with it, but as I looked at my Playlist I saw a song that I had put on for the grandsons. I think it's appropriate right now as so many kids are going back to school this month, so I've added 'Don't Laugh At Me' by Peter, Paul and Mary to my Jukebox. Give it a listen if you can while reading this post - actually, before or after would be better!

As I listened to the song, it didn't take much to go back to my own childhood and remember how hurtful it was to be laughed at and ostracized because my adoptive mother was a drunk. I've never forgotten, even these decades later, how the kids laughed when she drove the car thru the garage turned into my bedroom (yes, they all came by to have a look), or when she stumbled into the school with a totally inappropiate sun dress falling off her shoulders and wobbling on high heels, bleached blonde hair with three inches of black roots, and clownish makeup. I guess it would be funny to an outsider, especially to a kid, and yes I know now that they were laughing at her and not at me, but I've never forgotten the sting of that laughter directed at my life.

And then there was the laughter at me for being so pidgeon toed that I couldn't walk a straight line, so they probably thought I was drunk, too! And being picked last for - well, for anything - in gym because I was so uncoordinated. And having terrible acne.

Also, as I listened to the song, I heard a stanza I'd never noticed before. The song starts out singing about don't laugh at me for something that makes them a little different (glasses, braces, fat, handicap), and then all of a sudden it throws in a stanza about not laughing at a beggar on the corner. I thought at first that it ruined a perfectly nice children's song, but as I thought about it I realized that it was totally appropriate for today's circumstances, what with regular people like you and me losing their homes and resorting to all kinds of means to put food on the table, and we don't know the backstory of this person.

The other thing about this song that I probably shouldn't mention, for fear of offending some of you, is that the hyperbole of all of us having 'perfect wings in the end' just drives me nuts. That's all I'm gonna say about that, though I guess the image does make the song softer.

Did you have something that kids openly made fun of when you were younger, or do you have a kid that has something that he gets kidded about? I think everyone worries about it, but sometimes it's all in our head, because if it bothers us we're sure that everyone else notices. But truth be told, kids can be so cruel to each other, in small and large ways, can't they? Those of you who are teachers must see it more than most - have you seen anything that you thought was particularly cruel?

As a side note, I'd like to say, if I haven't mentioned it before, that my daughter was one of those kids in school who seemed to gravitate toward those kids who were made fun of (probably because she thought she was one of those being made fun of because of her acne and her glasses). So in her year book they would write things like "you're so nice", and she hated it! She wanted them to say "you are so cool" or "I wish I could be as popular as you!" (though I'm actually only imagining what she would want it to say). I always told her that that was a good thing, to be nice! I told her that someday she would probably end up in a career that would involve her helping people in some way. And sure enough, she went on to become an elementary school counselor!

Well, I guess I was able to go on a personal journey, wasn't I. And I hope you'll join me by sharing your own personal journey of ridicule and cruelty ... (that doesn't sound right, does it.)


DUTA said...

I didn't experience cruelty of children in my childhood.
There was nothing 'peculiar' about me or about any of my family members to be laughed at by children. However, I've been a teacher for a couple of years, so I know about childrens' cruelty. It can be diminished, but not totally eliminated.
(Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment. I left you a short reply).

Missy said...

I never fit in at my school...all of the kids that went there came from very well-to-do families. I went there because my dad taught there. I lived outside of the school district, but was able to attend because of this reason. I imagine that is also the reason I never fit in. Even some of my teachers treated me badly because they didn't like my dad. It was so rough growing up...I am glad that part of my life is over. I don't have any children...but if I did, it would be very difficult for me to send them out into the "cruelty" amongst other kids.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"Well, I guess I was able to go on a personal journey,"

Yes, you did. I think we all have stories of being left out and ridiculed. Even those who did it to others -- their lives perhaps not as happy as they portrayed. They had to learn how to be mean from somewhere. Right?

Ginger said...

I was called "four eyes" in elementary school because I wore glasses. So from then on, I wouldn't wear my glasses walking in the halls at school, only in class when I needed to read the board. So then kids thought I was stuck up cause I didn't say hi. (I just didn't see them) lol. I wasn't real popular in school, but I did have 4 girlfriends that were my best buds all through Jr.High and senior high, and we are still friends today, some 46 years later.

Wendy said...

I don't think that cruelty is an innate part of children's behavior. I think it has everything to do with how they are raised. We have a group of friends and family that we regularly get together with (7 kids total) and they ALWAYS play nicely. One day I was off in the corner whispering with Joey and one of the moms wanted to know if something was wrong (expecting the typically usual bs of 'he said, she said', which for this group would have been completely atypical). Turns out Joey had been invited to spend the night with one person and was trying to figure out how to not hurt the other people's feelings.

I did not begin to homeschool Joey to avoid the meanness and bullying that is so rampant in regular school, but honestly, it has been a nice side effect. It's good to realize that the people in your life are there because you chose them, not because they happen to sit next to you in class.

And as for a story about meanness... one day Joey came home from pre-school and told me that she'd gotten up to dance with 3 other girls who were already dancing to some music and they told her that she couldn't dance with them, so she sat back down. Luckily we were in the car when she told me so she couldn't see the tears on my face, but I was ready to go and kick their little butts or yell at them til they cried. Because, ya, that would help her social situation immensely (and would also be a totally grown up way to handle the situation).

Wander to the Wayside said...

20/20 or one of those ABC shows has a segment about something like What Would You Do, (you've probably seen it), where they do a fake situation and see what bystanders do. The one they did about older kids picking on another kid drew in the adult women passing by and had them cussing like sailers at these girls, in essence going back to the feelings they had had as a teenager of being bullied or made fun of. And I think one of them said that she had actually been a bullier, and now felt so ashamed of what she had done as the offending teenager. So I think all of us, in one way or another, just do not want to tolerate it, and have memories of either being made fun of or bullied, or seeing someone else experience it, and maybe at the time were too inexperienced to do something about it. To me, being excluded is far worse than being made fun of, maybe because I was so often purposely excluded from things either because I was the new kid or because I had a drunk mother or, well, whatever. Being excluded leaves such a huge dent in your self-esteem, whether it's from not being invited to a party or from playing jump rope or just hanging out, and that feeling of exclusion seems to last longer than the embarrassment at wearing glasses. But maybe that's just my take on it.

glnroz said...

oh my goodness, one of my pet peeevvves.....but i could go on forever. Not for myself so much, but other stories. I "took care" or those whose teased me, but not in the sense you might first expect. lol

MissKris said...

Oh, my...we sound like twins! I'm glad you 'found' me somehow so I could come and 'find' you in return...I think we're going to get along just fine, ha! I wasn't adopted but I always THOUGHT I was adopted because my mom could never find my birth certificate. She finally unearthed it when I was around 18, I think it was, but by that time I was so different from everyone in my family I still FELT like I was adopted. I had an aunt who was adopted and didn't find out until she was in her 60s. Ironically, my dad - who didn't know she'd been adopted - found her adoption papers in my grandfather's strong box after he died. We kids were sworn to secrecy so we knew Aunt Claire was adopted many years before SHE did. Anyway...I get carried away in comments, don'tcha know. I never knew rejection in school until the 7th grade, when my family moved from our small town, where I was always well-liked and popular, to a much bigger city where I was suddenly so 'out of it' and thrust into a school where my class swelled from the 25 kids I'd always known to a middle school with close to 1000. Plus we moved every couple of years and I went to 6 schools in my last 6 years of schooling. Talk about an identity crisis and taking years to regain what I'd lost as far as self esteem!! But I've been married to my wonderful Dear Hubby for 35 years - he adores me and vice versa. We've both done wonders in making each other feel pretty special. I am already going to add you to my Coffee Stops so I can find you again.

Timoteo said...

Uncanny the things we have in common...I had the acne, AND the drunk adoptive parents. One New Year's eve my dad took one of our cars out and wrecked it--hit another car with a family in it. No major injuries, I guess, so someone gave him a ride home...he then took our other car out and wrecked IT on the same night.