Auntie Says…The term “bully” is over-used and doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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Auntie Says…Bully? How about tormenter or bulldozer?—it’s a better fit.

There was recently an article in the news about a school bullying incident that escalated to the point of involving the police. Apparently the Principal and staff could see the situation getting out of hand and chose to use every resource at their fingertips. Bravo. 

The Administrator and staff aren’t miracle workers and realized their own limitations in dealing with a simmering situation. Having outside support is huge in taking a stand against the unrelenting bullying that some students inflict and others suffer.

It was the comments following the article that I found to be most insightful. Many said they were teaching their children to fight back—‘knock the other child down’ they said ‘and then kick them’. While the comments didn’t shock me, they made me sad in that there is a misunderstanding as to what is actually happening in the schools and it makes me think that we need to re-think the word “bully”. 

The word is used to conjure up the image of an overly aggressive kid who pushes a smaller one down and steals the ball. That kind of hands on school-yard posturing hasn’t changed over the centuries and is only part of the picture. Parents telling their kids to fight back are not wrong because they’re giving their kid permission to have a voice. It’s a matter of “how” they fight. Hands on doesn’t work and chances are the kid retaliating will be the one who gets in trouble. We’ve all heard it—he started it—but it doesn’t make a difference. Having someone treat you badly is not ok and screaming bloody murder until an adult arrives (or the aggressor leaves) is an option.

 

Bullying has evolved over the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean hands-on, violent confrontation—it’s become sneakier, slimier, and more silent. Imagine someone walking by your work station every day, several times, whispering, ‘you stink’ or ‘I’m gonna get you’… always out of earshot of any authority figure. What if you were being deliberately ‘nudged’ in the hallway—just enough to throw you off balance—constantly. It’s sometimes done with a smile by someone who’s considered a “good kid” and not necessarily your likely suspects. It can be like a game or power play to them. Imagine going to work everyday and having your co-worker treat you like that. What if, every single day—over and over—you’re told you should ‘go kill yourself’…‘go off and die’…‘no one loves you’? That’s a slow erosion of an individuals self worth and confidence. You might want to punch them in the face in the lunchroom, but then what?

I remember reading about a woman who was the target of an online hate attack. She said that though she knew all the words were false, it ate her up inside. Every time she turned on her computer it was there…mocking her. While computers and phones can be turned off, the hateful whispers, innuendos, the seemingly innocent jabs in the hallway, or the open mocking by individuals, doesn’t go away. The question I ask, is whether or not this nonviolent/hands off bullying is being viewed as being as serious as a bully knocking down a kid and stealing the ball. I’m not sure it is and I think it’s worse—much worse—and frightening.

Maybe we need to change the word ‘bully’ to ‘thug’ or ‘goon’…how about ‘bulldozer’? 

The real question is, what satisfaction do these bulldozer kids get out of making someone else feel like crap? I know one person had commented on the recent bully story saying that the home life of the tormentor needs to be the focus. I totally agree. The focus needs to be off the act and on to the wrong-doer. They’re inflicting life long pain for what we all see as ‘no reason’, but there has to be some pay off. I’d like to know what it is.

If you have a story to share…let’s chat.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Contact her at  faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

U.S.A. Student Activism–March On!

Auntie Says…My thoughts are with the American students. March on!

Columbine. That word pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

It was April 1999 and I’ll never forget seeing the images of terrified high school students running for their lives. I, like everyone else, was horrified and sickened, but It got worse—much worse. School shootings in the U.S. became, I hate to say it … commonplace.

While for the most part I don’t talk politics or religion, my heart and voice are with every student in the U.S. marching and protesting for a safer tomorrow. I’m optimistic as I witnessed the planned walk out one month to the day after the Florida school shooting. It was an illustration of choosing a course of action in solidarity and it makes me proud.

The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow. Getting angry about the abhorrent gun laws, political rhetoric, and the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes surrounding school shootings is not only necessary, but required, for change. It takes a lot of courage and tenancity to take those first steps against the status quo and I applaud these young people for what they’re doing.

Like many, I’ve wept as the body count rises in the name of U.S. democratic freedoms. Even from a  distance where I don’t feel the same physical (gun violence) threats, I can still understand the grief faced by so many —too many. I seriously don’t know how they all cope and carry on after such harrowing circumstances.

In Canada, we don’t face the same fears about school shootings, but we still feel our neighbor’s pain and the aftershocks of grief and anger. For every individual that dies, there are survivors—the other students, the family, the teachers, staff, and first responders—forever changed in a way that we can only imagine, but there’s also the public. Let’s not forget the average person watching the tragedy unfold on TV and how it affects them. It’s a mood of uncertainty and helplessness suffered by millions of people in both the US and Canada. It’s a sad truth of the day.

Even if you don’t think your kid is aware of the news and current events, believe me—they know. The kids talk about it to each other and in class. They watch YouTube .It’s not a secret and yet as far as I know, the schools here don’t do anything like security drills or heightened vigilance. Who knows how much all the school gun violence south of the border is adding to the anxiety and depression for teens everywhere?  After a televised incident, I’d bet that all the teachers and administrators walk back into the school with a heavy heart. How could you not? It doesn’t matter where the incident occurs, it affects us all.

When I see the anger and determination on the faces of those young people marching, it gives me hope. Hope that there will be change. Hope that someone amongst those students, is a strong and forever leader—a compelling voice—that will bring about positive transformation. I also hope that the protest continues until it’s voice is so strong that it can no longer be pushed aside or ignored.

We joke about having ‘first-world problems’—school shootings should not be one of them. Let’s pray that the students voices raised in protest will be heard and acted upon. #NationalWalkoutDay #StudentsForChange #EndGunViolence #AuntieSays

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com 

Auntie Says…Don’t bring your dope to my house.

I think the pending legalization of marijuana is great. I believe the government regulation and taxation of the product is a smart move. What I don’t like, is anyone thinking that marijuana is now so mainstream and accepted, that they can light up anywhere. The arrogance and disregard for other people gets me a tad bit riled up.

When you are a guest at someone’s home, you should be respectful of their space and rules. Would you go into someones house and put your feet on their table, or just open their fridge and start pawing through it? I sure hope not. The same goes for lighting up a joint…inside, outside…doesn’t matter. Unless you have express permission from the home owners (not their kid or their dog, and not the neighbor, or the government), you are not, I repeat, not, to light up. It is not your “right” to light up wherever you want. Go back and read that last sentence again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what you do in your own home, but I definitely care what you do in mine. And, actually I care what you do in a public space too.

I went to a function a few months back where the guests ranged in age from fifteen to seventy five. One of the guests, male, around forty years old, came in, walked right to the outside deck where most of the guests were congregated and without a word to anyone, he immediately lit a joint.

Am I supposed to give him kudos for at least being outside, and for offering it around? The interesting thing was that no one said a word. Some didn’t care, a few people got up and went inside, and others completely ignored the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room.

I wonder what would have happened if it were a tobacco cigarette. I’m sure everyone would have felt much more justified in being vocal and asserting their personal thoughts but when it’s pot, people seem to shy away. Is it because you don’t want to be the one labeled as an old fashioned fuddy-duddy? perhaps a party killer? or the least cool person on earth? Come on…everyone’s doing it, right? Nope. They sure aren’t. The blatant disregard and rudeness of those that think they can smoke dope when ever, and wherever, they want, needs to be called out as unacceptable.

I’m not a prude (or I don’t think I am), and I smoked cigarettes for many years before quitting.
Society has deemed cigarette smoking dangerous and unacceptable. It’s so vilified that a smoker has to drive his car out to the middle of nowhere, lock all his doors, and watch over his shoulder to enjoy a puff. BUT smoking a joint openly in a public park, or as you walk your kids to school, or stand at a bus stop, are now all acceptable? I think there’s something a wee bit twisted here.

I find those who do not smoke marijuana are judged as being stiff, out of touch with the current trends, and goody-goodies, but I believe they are really the silent majority (perhaps too silent). The world is definitely changing and with those changes comes a difference in opinion, but not the right to be ignorant or rude. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you, but if you try and smoke dope at my house, you’ll be asked to leave.

And don’t worry, we’re going to have a chat later about the wake and bake trend that I think is frying young brains.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Opinions? Questions? contact me faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

*Published by Black Press.

 

Auntie Says…Hit the reset button this September.

Have you ever gotten to that point in the year where you need a change? A fresh start? Do you have that same negative message looping through your brain and bringing you down? You know the one…it sounds like ‘who cares anyway?’ ‘why bother?’ ‘I’m not that good/smart/thin/fast so why try?’ I’ve tried before and it didn’t work.’

All that negativity stuck in your brain, affects you every single day whether you realize it or not. It’s tucked in the back of your head and sucks you in because you don’t see any other way out. It’s time to hit the reset button and give yourself a break from your own negative self talk.

When you look back at the beginning of the year, were there things you wanted to complete or accomplish throughout the year? January is the traditional time to make resolutions and set goals but it’s the wrong time of year to do any of that.

Think about it…January is a cold, miserable month and the bills from Christmas start coming in…that’s no fun. You then make resolutions and pile on the pressure of having to change something major in your life and that can be a recipe for failure. It’s sad really because though you start with the best intentions, the odds for success are not in your favour.

Fast forward nine months and you have September presenting itself with all it’s glory. There’s a fresh energy in the air that can add a boost to anyone’s mood. The days are warm and the evenings cool…sheer perfection compared to January. September is the beginning of a new school year and it’s a time when new routines are reconfigured and embraced. What a great time to start a New Year. What a great time to toss out the negative self talk, take back the control, set new goals and make positive self-affirmations.

Who said that January was the only time you could set resolutions or goals? That’s ridiculous. You still have time to revisit those you made in January or set some new ones. You’re going to do things a bit different though. You need a calendar, a commitment, and some sort of accountability (ie: a friend to share your progress with).

To set a goal, you must have a time line…a beginning and an end, otherwise it’s just wishful thinking. The goal needs to be very specific and measurable. You may have a goal to be nicer to yourself. What does that look like? Does it mean you won’t eat chips at night or you will walk 30 minutes everyday, or perhaps you’ll commit to eight hours of sleep every night. Whatever it is, you must be specific and that’s how you begin to turn a dream into reality.

One thing to remember is that any goal you set should be about you. It’s not about fulfilling someone else’s agenda, it’s about being true to yourself and doing what you want. This is about YOU. Goals can often start with good intentions, but the energy dwindles and that’s why it’s good to have someone to discuss it with…perhaps your Auntie? If you’re beginning to fall back into bad habits, you need to revisit and adjust the goal. Any goal should be realistic and attainable. Change doesn’t come over night. Don’t set yourself up for failure. That can be depressing and brutal to the self-esteem.

Also be sure to set mini-goals. For example, if your goal is to drink only one latte a week, and you’re currently drinking one everyday, make the goal to drink only four, then three, then two…

The idea is to set yourself up for success and long term change rather than to fail. If you begin to set these goals now, by January your new behaviour should be ingrained and a new normal.
G—go for it. Give yourself permission to be successful.

O—only for you…don’t do it for others.

A—attainable—be realistic.

L—look for the long term change.

September is such a beautiful time of year to get outside (another plus compared to January), so take a deep breath and push that reset button.
And to answer that loop in your head, I’ll tell you…Auntie cares. You DO matter, and you ARE that good/smart/thin/fast and you CAN make anything happen. I believe in you. Happy New Year!

*First published by Black Press August 30, 2017