What I Wish My Mom and I Talked About When We Talked About Bullying

People didn’t know about Asperger’s when I was a kid back in the ’60s. My parents were very kind and loving. I miss them both so much. My mom was a social butterfly, but I took after my dad, who was shy and might have been on the autism spectrum but undiagnosed.

One day I told my mom about how I was constantly bullied. Back then, there wasn’t much information about bullying, and certainly no internet! So my mom, drawing from her own experience, told me to just ignore them. I wasn’t quite sure how to do this, but was nevertheless willing to try.

Next day during lunch, the kids started singing the same unflattering song they made up about me. I tried to ignore them, but they sang louder. I tried to laugh, which came out like a strangled sound. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop though I think perhaps I gave them a closer look at the human psyche and food for thought. The bullying continued for years after that.

If I could go back in time, I would instead ask my mom to please explain to me why they teased me. Even back then, I sensed that such understanding would have set me free, although I didn’t know how to say this. If I at least understood there was nothing wrong with me, that I wasn’t inferior, and their jeers came from insecurities and social pressures, then I could have seen through their bravado and not felt so bad about myself for so many years.

To my socially savvy mom, those social insights were probably as obvious to her as how the sun rises at dawn. I suspect she didn’t realize I couldn’t fathom those things.

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