Were you ever bullied?
I certainly was.
I was different. Still am, and proud of it. But, as a child, being different isn’t necessarily always fun. I am affected by AEC Syndrome, which is one of the about 150 syndromes of Ectodermal Dysplasias (learn more about the Ectodermal Dysplasias at the NFED website). Because of Hay Wells Syndrome, I have very little hair. I also only have two natural teeth, am unable to sweat properly, have misshapen fingernails and toenails, have no eyebrows, and only one eyelash. Yep, it’s on my left eye upper lid about a centimeter from the inner canthus. Believe it or not, I actually used to put mascara on it. LOL.
Anyway, back to the bullying. Needless to say, being different came with it’s challenges, and not just those that are related to the disorder. I was frequently made fun of as a child and continued to be taunted even into adolescence. One girl from grade school, whom I will call Berta*, used to follow me on the way to school and on the way home from school taunting me. She would call out things like:
“Your Mom would have had an abortion if she knew you would be like this…”
“Don’t think you will ever get married because guys don’t marry freaks cause freaks make freak babies…”
“You’ll always be a freak and no one will ever love you.”
She was absolutely HORRID.
I remember when I was in the second grade, I came home crying from school one day. Berta* had been especially relentless in her taunting that day, and I had just about had it. When I got home, my Mom asked me what was wrong, so I told her. Mom smiled at me and said, “Sweetheart, I know how upset you must be. Just remember this, though. People only make fun of what they don’t understand. If you make them understand, they won’t make fun.” My Mom empowered me that day. She took a miserable situation and used it to show me that I could change the situation simply by changing how I responded to it. From that point on, I started standing up for myself. I didn’t let ole Berta* bother me anymore.
I am now the parent of a child that is different. Mister is two and is affected by Hay Wells Syndrome, just like I am. Because of the Hay Wells Syndrome, Mister develops scaly patches on his scalp, has skin erosions on his hands and feet, has misshapen fingernails and toenails, is unable to sweat, has no eyebrows, and very few eyelashes. I know that he will have to deal with teasing, etc. I’ve already had to deal with rude comments from ignorant people. I truly want to help him establish a strong foundation of esteem BEFORE he realizes what bullying is.
With this in mind, I recently asked to review a book about bullying, by Brenda Poage, called Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody.
About the author…
Brenda Poage grew up in a small town in Andice, Texas. She was inspired to write by her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Rob, who helped her to realize her potential and to follow her dream of writing. Brenda resides in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband, Kyle, and their three children, Hanna, Kyler, and Kailiegh. Brenda also has two older step sons, Khris and Jon. Brenda created the character Ima Nobody as a reflection of herself in her early school years. Brenda wanted to face the issue of bullying in a fun, creative way to get kids to question both sides of the issue.
About the book (per Amazon)…
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Paperback: 88 pages
- Publisher: AuthorHouse (September 30, 2009)
- Language: EnglishISBN-10: 1449001572Book Description…Do you remember the Bully in first grade? Many children face this issue on a daily basis, as Ima Nobody does in the excerpt from the book, Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody!” “Ima, I never knew a Nobody that was somebody! All you Nobody’s will never amount to anything, just like your name.” This made Ima feel sad. It was then and there that Ima decided that she was going to prove to that Billy Do-good that she would in fact amount to something and be somebody.
You know these issues. Dealing with differences, and dealing with the reactions of those angered by it, are tough issues for young children to face. I encourage you and invite you to take the journey with Ima and her first grade classmates as they discover their own self worth, strengths, and weaknesses. You will find that this story does not tell children how to react to Ima’s predicament. It does however show a positive way in which Ima deals with the situation. This is Book One in the Ima Nobody Series – be sure to follow along with Ima and her friends as they discover themselves and learn important life lessons along the way.
What I thought…
I thought this book took a good look at bullying, from the perspective of the one being bullied. Ima Nobody is a little girl who determines to prove her tormentors wrong. I can relate to that. I determined at a very young age that, while I might not be able to make the world love me, I would make them respect me. This determination was the driving force behind me working two full time jobs while attending full time nursing school.
The book is humorous, but treats the topic of bullying that makes the reader understand that bullying is not funny at all. Ima Nobody is a fun character, and easy to relate to.
I like the fact that the book does not TELL the reader how to respond to a bully, but rather SHOWS the reader how to respond. I know several kids that range in age from 4-12, and none of them like to be told how to act, but each of them will behave appropriately when appropriate behavior is modeled. This book does a great job of modeling for the reader.
For now, the book is just a story for us. But in the future, it will be a great conversation starter.
What I would change…
Honest to goodness, I wouldn’t change a thing. I thought the book was great. Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody is a great tool to open the conversation about the effects of bullying.
A special thanks to Brenda Poage, who provided me with a copy of Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody to facilitate this review.