When Your Cyber-Bullies Are Family

As our entire world becomes immersed in social media, the increase in stories of teenagers who take their life over cyber bullying is alarming.  As a teenager it was difficult enough to deal with my three to four very close friends and the 100 or so acquaintances I would say hi to in the hallways.  With Facebook, I see kids with 900 friends checking to see who “commented” or “liked” the twenty-minute old post about their choice of breakfast cereal, and it could make or break their day.

It is so much easier to bully someone when you are looking at a screen with only your own words.  There is no face to face interaction, no back and forth dialog.  You do not see or hear the cue from the other person that tells your brain, “Hey, your being an ass, knock it off”.  School ground fights used to end with an adult stepping in telling everyone to break it up, the crowd dispersing and those involved dealing with the consequences almost immediately.  Now they have assemblies and pass out pamphlets about the damage cyber bullying can cause.  These are usually after some poor kid is tormented online, puts a gun in his mouth, and pulls the trigger.

My family not only allowed but encourage one person to make up whatever he wanted about me, my husband, and our 12-year-old son, and use the internet to spread it around.  So many things were copied, forwarded, and made up and sent or told to everyone they could find, I have no idea who thinks what and why.  The fact they flipped my life upside down with no thought, is telling on how easy it was to do from a computer.  Not sure it would have been that simple, if they had to look at my son’s face while it was happening.

After almost a year, I know longer care what they say.  Their efforts telling me I need to move on, I ignore.  That being said, it is horrible to go through.  I cannot imagine dealing with something even close to that as a teenager.  But, I can understand how they get to the breaking point.  Hopefully, society will figure out a way to keep human interaction from completely being lost in cyberspace before we forget what it is like.

I have sent my own e-mails, posted on Facebook, and created Spun, to deal with my mess as it was happening. And although I enjoy seeing them, I need more than a “like” or a “comment” to process what has happened.  I require the old, face to face, school ground fight. Except a judge, not a teacher will be the one to break it up, allowing for everyone to deal with their own actions.  Just like back in the old days.

 

Mom, I Am All Adventured Out..

Growing up I was blessed with being able to travel with my maternal grandparents several times a year.  Ranging anywhere from Disneyland and Sea World to camping and boating.  I was with my grandparents at  Lake Powell the day it was considered officially full in June of 1980. Lake Powell is my favorite place in the world and the resting place of my grandparents.

Except for the times my grandfather flew us in his Cessna, vacations were usually started with a Bronco pulling a trailer or a boat name The Beverly Anne II.  The drive was usually long enough for something to leak, break, fail, catch fire, or blow out along way.  Adding  adventure long before we were screaming at the darkness in Space Mountain

It was my grandmother who gave me the term “adventure” during those times that I still use to this day.  Living in a 30 year old pink single wide trailer with only a swamp cooler to get through the Vegas summer heat, was quiet an adventure.  My grandmother took one look at the trailer and told me to just pretend I was on a camping adventure.  There was even a big pine tree growing by the back door, reminding me of many Colorado camping trips.  After spending two summers “camping” and being pregnant with my second child we thought it better to end that trip and bought a house.

When the market went to shit in Las Vegas and we made the mistake of re-financing beyond our means we lost our home we had for eleven years.  So we started a new adventure in Arizona.  While most of my family lives there I was not really close to them.  I had spent 17 years in Vegas, I did not know them and they certainly did not know me.  They thought they did after reading all our private letters and journals, something I think they are proud of.  I do not think they would like me to do that to them. Actually, the thought to do that would not cross my mind.

A week before Christmas they kicked us out with our twelve year old son.  They have lied, stolen, and have turned into people I do not know.  I had an awesome childhood which makes what they did even more hard to deal with.  Something changed when my maternal grandparents passed away.  I know in my heart there is not a chance this would be happening if my grandfather were alive.

My grandfather’s favorite holiday was Christmas, and I think he sat in Heaven watching what was being done to his great grandchild, and if you can get pissed in the afterlife, I am certain he was.  My son was in a hotel room with his mom and dad who were on the verge of breakdown, while my parents got drunk with my daughter on a little holiday vacation at a bar in Laughlin.  Something is very wrong with that.

Two weeks after we were kicked out and we had been living in hotels, I told my son to think of this as an adventure.  I even said we could just live in hotels for a year while I wrote about our adventures.  Nothing is as easy as it sounds and hotels got expensive.  A twelve year old needs to be in school, not sitting in a McDonald’s on my laptop while his father and I figured out a way to get 60 dollars for a night at hotel in the ghetto.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my son about our adventures and he said something I will never forget.  He said “Mom, I am all adventured out.”  It broke my heart to hear him say that because I knew this adventure was not the kind my grandmother was talking about.  However, this adventure taught him to have compassion for others I have never seen, especially in a twelve-year-old.  Everyone we have come across has told me what a helpful and kind kid he is.  Teachers are telling me he is intelligent and articulate.  That being said, our adventure has done damage to his trust in people and given him a fear and an uncertainty a child should not have to deal with.

I know there are families and children who have horrible lives compared to ours.  I thank God every day for what we do have and I know it will only get better.  We will have the adventures my grandmother talked about, and our son will learn to trust again.