It’s sleeping month at Harper Bee. We are focusing on how hard it is for tweens to sleep – hormones raging, nightlights turned on, growing pains keeping tweens awake, pressure at school keeping them tossing and turning until the early hours. To wake them in the mornings is a nightmare and nights mean they are still awake at 11pm.
We will have folk with skill in this area talking to us this month about what action parents and tweens can take to get a good night’s sleep and perform better during the day. Our Toowoomba store is running dreamcatcher workshops, and our dreamy ‘boho watercolour’ range has launched in all stores and online.
My team are hoping that I focus on sleep in this blog – but I can’t. Not today. I’m being kept awake by bullying.
I’ve seen the huge political upheaval in our national politics over the last fortnight – resulting in Julia Banks deciding to leave politics in the next election because of bullying and intimidation. I watched The Bachelor this week (tragically, my favourite program of the moment), where a woman was so bullied that she ran off into the night, decked out in long gown and high-heeled shoes (I can’t even run in pants and sneakers!).
So why are we so amazed when our girls are bullied at school? What role models do the young bullies have?
I remember when I was in primary school, my three siblings and I walked half an hour to and from school each day. My little brother was bullied terribly, and I can still remember walking home in the afternoons with him. He just repeated ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ for the full 30-minute walk home – he was too scared of the repercussions if he stopped his mantra, even though his bully had long headed home in the opposite direction.
My daughter, Jess, was bullied at school. It was 2009. Her bully taunted her throughout Year 12 – and even tried to pay someone to throw red wine on her dress during her school formal.
Even I was bullied at school. It was 1976. I was 11 years old and sent to an all-girls boarding school in Christchurch, New Zealand. The school clothing list stated that I was to wear “simply laundered cotton frocks and flesh coloured stockings” during the weekends. My mum, an avid sewer, complied. Upon arrival at school, I was greeted by girls wearing sweatshirts and jeans. The clothing requirement, I discovered, was just a suggestion – not a stipulation.
The queen of the ‘cool girls’, Hilary, poured scorn and derision on me. As a result, I wore my school uniform seven days a week. For a year. My time, during my tween years there, was hell.
Sadly, nothing I see has changed in 42 years. At Harper Bee, I regularly see young girls coming into the store with their mums during school hours. They are having a ‘mental health’ day off school, often due to bullying. Times have changed. The focus is not on stockings and frocks, but on social media and fitting in. Their young bullies, so often, have no idea of the damage they are doing. They are simply trying to fit into their tribe.
I don’t know the solution to bullying – but I promise you all that I will track down people who can shed some light and help our girls get through this time better than Jess or I did. And I will share their stories and tips with you all.
In the meantime, hang those dreamcatchers high and sleep well!