My last post was all about how great my childhood was, playing in the street til dark, not worrying about too many cars, or not enough friends to play with. This is going to be a little different. A little darker, perhaps.
This morning I had coffee with 3 lovely mom friends. During the course of our time together, we discussed how some of the middle school girls are starting to wear training bras and such.
I was instantly taken back to my 7th grade year, when I borrowed a training bra from my friend, Shannon. I didn’t NEED a bra, training or otherwise. I was flat as a pancake. However, when you’re in 7th grade and you’re only one of 3 girls in the whole school who DOESN’T wear one, you feel obligated. You don’t want to stand out by being different.
Well, the boys knew I didn’t need it, and their way of letting me know this was by snapping my bra. I suppose this is the middle school version of “pulling pigtails,” but more horrifying. I try to imagine if some man I didn’t know came up to me in the grocery store and snapped my bra. I’d feel violated. I’d probably slap him, at the very least. Someone is touching my body without my permission and that is NOT okay.
I imagine my own daughters in middle school, going through the same thing. The mother bear in me goes a little crazy thinking about it. I was assured, though, by these 3 friends (who all have middle school children) that that behavior is absolutely not tolerated and they’ve never seen it in the schools yet, so I’m holding out hope for my girls (and all teen girls) that boys have maybe stopped this behavior, or at least are afraid to get in trouble doing it.
I also remembered another thing about my 7th grade year. The boys did more than snap bras. They goosed some of the girls, including me. For those of you who don’t know, THIS (first definition) is the definition of goosing. They did it right in the middle of class, with the teacher in the room. I told the teacher (as did other girls, I think – actually, maybe they didn’t which is why I was the one who got treated so badly). The teacher did nothing.
Then, one day our class had gone to the library on campus. I ended up at the back of the line, and two boys waited for me. As I came out of the library, they pinned me to the wall and pulled up my skirt. I fought back, and thankfully that’s all they did. That was almost 30 years ago and I still remember it. Can you imagine if two of my male friends, or coworkers did that to me now? Takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? At that point, I was so distraught, my mother had a conference with the teacher. I think we eventually went to the principal, because my teacher did nothing, and the behavior didn’t stop. In fact, my teacher acted like I was a big pain in his ass – a big pot stirrer, troublemaker.
My teacher was Mr. Herrick at Bonsall Elementary School. I have no idea if he’s alive or dead. I have no idea if he’s still teaching. I do hope that in the years following my time in his class he wised up and realized what boys in his class were doing and made sure no more boys did it ever again.
Now that I have kids of my own, I hope to hell it doesn’t happen to them, and if it does, I’ll be in the teacher’s room so fast it’ll make his head spin.
Preteens are already so vulnerable and volatile without being violated by other kids. I can only hope that more parents (and schools) are bringing their children up to respect each other more than my classmates did. I sure as hell hope I don’t read in my own daughter’s blog someday that something like this or, god forbid worse, had ever happened to them.