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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I don't want to play Red Rover. It hurts my arms..

Red Rover, Red Rover, let Kim come over!

There was a game called "Red Rover" I would play when I was a child. Lines of children would grip hands; one line facing the other--about an eighth of a football field’s distance from each other--and holler in unison for a member of the other line to "come over." That child would target the perceived weakest arms linked and run full speed straight there; either breaking through or not. Back and forth, the opposing teams would call out names until there was one pair still holding hands.

That team won. The rest of the participants would stand to the side and massage their sore arms.

Red Rover may have been fun for some children. I was, however, often terror filled; particularly when a burly boy gleefully targeted my link. He probably knew to get rid of the opposing team's weakest links first.

I didn't like "Red Rover." I imagine other children didn't like it either. When I heard: "Hey! Let's play Red Rover!," instead of protesting and suggesting another game, I'd heave a sigh, trudge off to one of the two sides...and preemptively begin to massage my lower arms.

Red Rover makes me contemplate it as a personal life lesson. Red Rover still makes me shudder.

I felt scared and vulnerable every time I played it. And still, I played it a lot. I was more frightened not to play it than to play it. I knew kids would make fun of me if I didn’t play. Some of those kids would have been children who also didn’t really want to play. I didn't think to say, "No thanks. I don't like Red Rover. I don't want to play."I'd just clench my jaw and tense my shoulders and arms and with feigned gusto, holler with the others, "Red Rover, Red Rover...." relief or terror filled as the "invited" child either chose or did not choose my arms' links.I still clench my jaw and tense my shoulders.

I still feel stress. I can't help it. I'm sitting here right now with a sore neck and shoulders; clenched jaw.... and this:

I am learning I am just not wired--never have been-- to tolerate bullying. I am just not wired to tolerate injustice. There is much of both. Now, though, unlike during my childhood "Red Rover" playing days, I am more likely to face things I don't like and say, "No thanks. I don't want to play."
It's not easy not to play.

Saying "No thanks. I don't want to play" to my former principal, for instance, when he bullied and coerced me into fraudulently submitting documents, was a difficult thing to do. Saying "No thanks, I don't want to play" to my district and my union when they, together, wanted to silence me about their culpability in keeping a known abusive man in his position was also a difficult thing to do.

There is now a voice in my head asking, "Just who do you think you are, Kim? Where do you get off talking about such an important thing as injustice when, really, you have lived without much of that?

RED ROVER!? That's the best you got?!

Who made you a voice of the downtrodden and the unjustly treated?

Just go to work, for Pete's sake! Shut up already! Didn't the district take care of you--get you away from that guy-- and put you in a good school?You should be grateful."
“Red Rover, Red Rover, let Kim come over.”
Like the opposing Red Rover line, that inner voice is joined by voices outside myself. My husband's voice sometimes holds “Red Rover voice hands” with my voice. His sometimes worried voice says things like, "You are putting this family at risk.

Just go to work, for Pete's sake!"

“Red Rover, Red Rover, let Kim come over.”

My inner voice's and my husband's "voice hands" are joined by family's and friends' and colleagues' "voice hands." Those voices say this; "Watch out, Kim. They are looking to get you. They will take you down.

Just go to work, for Pete's sake! Shut up already!"

“Red Rover, Red Rover, let Kim come over.”

An influential friend’s—influential by anyone's standards—perplexed voice has joined the others. He doesn’t understand, I think, why I “haven’t moved on.” Although his voice, in general, is one of courage in standing up to injustice, he too, I believe, sees the danger for me in speaking up. His voice seems to be saying, “Stay safe, Kim....stay safe.”

His protective “voice hand,” though, has joined hands with my husband’s, my district’s,family's, friends', and my own “inner voice hands.” None of those voices is particularly encouraging in helping me address the injustice of a bullying abusive man and the system that allows men and women like him to lead our schools. All of them together—my inner voice included--in fact, have me almost saying along with them:

“Kim! Just go to work, for Pete's sake! Shut up already! Didn't the district take care of you--get you away from that guy-- and put you in a good school?

You should be grateful."
Those linked “voice hands” seem, at times, to be calling for me “to come over.”
“Come over, Red Rover, come over here. You know you will never break through! Our links are strong! It's better and safer for you to play our game of lying and cheating and manipulation,” some of the voices cry.”
“Come over, Kim, and be safe. You do not have to lie and cheat and manipulate. You just need to be quiet about others lying and cheating and manipulating," plead other voices: voices that do not know that they are linked to the lying and cheating and manipulating voices; for to stay quiet is to lie.

“Red Rover, Red Rover..... I'm not coming over.

I don’t want to play Red Rover. It hurts my arms. It scares me when big and powerful kids run straight at me. I don’t like it.Let’s play a different game.”

5:38 am edt          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....