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

cropped-head-shots-17a1.jpg

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… Not all guys are pigs.

I recently spoke with some young men about the MeToo/Time’s Up movements. They all said that being a guy in todays world meant that they’re basically “scum” (their word-not mine) and no matter what they do they’re left to feel less than appreciated, simply because they’re male.

While it appears that women of all ages are finding the strength and support to come forward to report long time abuses, harassment, and general mistreatment, some guys are left feeling confused.  It’s important to remember that the attention given the MeToo and TimesUp movements is long overdue but, I want to point out that not all guys are pigs.

The comments of the young men made me very sad. MeToo is about the discontinuation of a misogynist culture that allows sexual misconduct to go unchecked—it’s about speaking your truth, ending the silence and stigma of shame. It wasn’t meant to be a man-hate thing, but it’s clear some are feeling exactly that.

This is a perfect time to sit down with our sons, nephews, and other young men in our lives to educate them about what’s going on, as we all experience this powerful paradigm shift. They need to be taught how to respect not only women, but also themselves. The whole idea of ‘boys will be boys’ is not acceptable—it hasn’t been for a long time, but now, even more so (that’s a whole other topic).

The movement has brought about a universal awareness and solidarity that went viral so fast, heads are still spinning. The voices roared loud and the pendulum swung quickly to the side of the accuser . The intensity of the MeToo movement can be overwhelming for anyone. It’s like a fast moving train, driven by a force of long standing pain from those silenced by years of abuse and humiliation. The momentum of the movement illustrates the overwhelming systemic problem that’s been festering but, we must not—I repeat—must not—paint all guys with the same brush.

It seems like every time I turn on the TV, another man is resigning or has been fired from a position because of sexual misconduct, harassment, or rape. For the young men that I spoke with, this was one of the concerns they expressed. The lack of due process and the media frenzy acting as judge and jury. While it appears that many of those accused have stepped down to avoid the frenzy, I’m hoping too that we see criminal charges brought and due process given.

Some of the confusion for the guys comes from not knowing what’s acceptable anymore. No one wants to come off sounding sexist, insensitive, or ignorant. Nor do they want to do something that could be construed as abusive or inappropriate.
Guys ask yourself this—if you’re acting/speaking in a certain way towards a woman, ask yourself if you’d be upset, or offended, if another guy were acting/speaking that exact same way toward your mother/sister/aunt/wife/girlfriend. If you wouldn’t want someone talking like that to your mother…then stop, because it’s obviously an issue. Does that make sense?

Don’t go around thinking that women can’t take a joke or are overly sensitive. You’re not stupid—so don’t act like it. Stop and think. Be respectful. Treat a woman as you’d want to be treated. Simple as that. If there’s any doubt in your mind then it’s probably something you shouldn’t say.

The world has changed and everyone needs to catch up quickly. Even actor Matt Damon got himself into hot water for making comments comparing the severity of different allegations…a pat on the bottom vs sexual assault, for example. The fact of the matter is that they all degrade, they invade personal space, and they cause shame, secrecy, and humiliation. It’s about the bigger picture. Go back to the test…do you want your wife’s boss patting her on the butt…I don’t think so.

Use your common sense. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to compliment some one for looking nice and it’s not sexist to hold the door open for a woman—it’s just kind. You can hold the door open for me anytime and believe me when I say, I’ll hold it open for you too.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her via email or twitter at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com  #notallguysarepigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auntie Says…It’s your responsibility to show up.

I would not normally start any conversation by saying “when I was young…” It makes me picture a hunched over old lady waving a finger in the face of a young person. But, let me tell you, I was recently left shaking my head mumbling … “wow, when I was young, I’d never have done that.”
Here are the circumstances. Judge for yourself.
I needed some help around the house and someone recommended a young woman who was, as it turned out, looking for work. I texted her, we chatted on the phone, and set up a time for an interview.
She was lovely. A single mom in her early 30’s. She was well spoken, well dressed, and said she’s not afraid of hard work. We spoke at length about expectations and the need for consistency and reliability. Her enthusiasm and positive energy towards dealing with life issues impressed me. There were no bells or whistles going off in my head and everything seemed to check out. She started that day and did a fantastic job.
We arranged a schedule and she agreed to return the following morning. I felt a sense of relief in finding the right person.
About an hour after she left I got a text—the next day was’t going to work because after checking her calendar more closely, she’d forgotten about a prior commitment. Fair enough. Not a big deal. She’d officially start at 9am the day after.
It arrived. She didn’t.
I waited and finally contacted her at 10am asking if she was coming. There was no reply. Because she didn’t seem to be the type of person who’d just ditch a job, I worried that she’d been in an accident or something bad had happened. I finally received a text at 5pm saying, ‘oh sorry, I slept all day, I guess I needed sleep. Can I come Friday?’
I think my jaw actually dropped. I was incredulous. I shook my head and simply couldn’t believe it. Like, what just happened here?
I found myself saying…“wow, I would **never** have done that—ever.” I was flabbergasted just by the fact that we’d discussed that reliability was so important.
I didn’t respond to her text. Her words were so flippant and immature, I was afraid I’d blast her and I didn’t want to say something I couldn’t take back.
This is obviously not a person I want in my life. I e-transferred her the money that I owed her and left it at that. She reinforced a negative stereotype about the laziness and lack of resourcefulness on the part of young people and that ticked me off because I know it’s not true.
I will say though that young people need to know that there are basic professional standards that apply across the board and one of them is that you’re only as good as your word. If you tell a client/employer that you’ll be there at a certain time then that is not negotiable. I don’t care if you’re tired, had a fight with your girlfriend, or that you just don’t feel like it—those are your problems—not the employers.
We’ve all been there. It’s life. We all get tired. We all get sick. We all have things happen around us that we can’t control—you’re not unique in that way. If you have issues that preclude you from working then talk to your employer immediately. Don’t let things fester and for heavens sake, don’t just drop out of sight and leave others scrambling.
You have a job to do. You’re to present yourself as a professional, whether working as a floor sweeper, server, or doctor. There’s to be no whining or sniveling. Someone is counting on you to preform your duties and you should be making every effort to work to the best of your abilities—every—single—time.
These days (there I go again sounding like an old lady), there’s no excuse for not calling or not showing up. Everyone has a cell phone—including your employer—and you must take the time to let them know if you’re going to be late or away—and the reason better be a good one.
Employers invest their time in you. Whether it be training, interviewing, reference checks, etc., it’s time consuming and expensive. They’re counting on you.

 

If you can relate to the person in this story more than you can with the person telling it, then you’re probably not going to get far in the world where life building skills are required. Be aware of that. Don’t lie or misrepresent yourself and never agree to show up when you already have no intention of doing so.
Now, I’m not saying that this young woman lied, I’m sure she had every intention of returning, but I wasn’t her priority and that’s where she went wrong. She made a choice…a choice to sleep the entire day away. Good luck in your future. If you don’t make some changes, I’m afraid the writings’ on the wall.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Reach her for comments or suggestions at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com