My Son, My Hero

Last term before Christmas my son was picked on in and out of school.

It hurt his heart to walk to a place that he had always thrilled to go to.


What hurt him most was that people who he thought were his close friends made fun of him.

‘GAY-briel’ they taunted ‘GAY-briel is a big BABY’.

This was a hard nose smashing against life’s window for us as his parents.

‘Are you a baby?’ we asked him, my husband and I.

‘Of course not!’ he replied.

‘Then they are lying. You can ignore lies’ we tell him.

This week the Easter weekend arrived rather earlier than the school holidays. There was the customary Easter bonnet parade to prepare.

My husband picked up a few odds and sods from the local dollar shop. Gabriel surveyed the constituent pieces and gave me my instructions …

‘Mum I need you to put this here, that there and THESE’ he waves a hand left and right.

‘Perfect’ he says of the end result which he joyfully wears to school.

On arrival one of his little adversaries says: ‘GAY-briel – your hat has FLOWERS on it’.

Gabriel looks over his shoulder briefly on his way to the bookshelf.

‘Yes’ he says ‘it does.’


14 thoughts on “My Son, My Hero

  1. I already sent you a note. I’m posting it here as well. This broke my heart and filled me with pride at the same time, pride at you and John for how you handled it and, most of all, for Gabriel. It took great courage and strength of personality. Wow.

  2. Dear Gabriel: You are a boy of great heart, and your mum and dad will always be there to help you sort things out. In the meantime, go on loving and living your life. Hugs from far away, Shirley.

    • Gabriel is fortunate to have loving, caring, thoughtful parents who can help him stand up to teasing/bullying. But what is the school doing to address this? When schools either ignore or only react to incidents rather than providing an ongoing proactive curriculum that addresses the issue of teasing & bullying, children are left very vulnerable—all children—those who are victims because of any perceived difference and those who do the teasing/bullying.

      • There is on paper and in theory an anti-bullying policy and a commitment to dealing with bullying on the curriculum at Gabriel’s school. The headmaster dealt swiftly and effectively with a serial bully in Gabriel’s class who blatantly stole money from Gabriel. That child is no longer in his class.

        What is less satisfactory is the attitude of the teachers to what I deem the snide sideswipes. There are some parents out there who clearly have a lot of bile and bitterness that they pass on to their own children.

        Like mental illness, no one can ever be be sure that we are not going to be the victim or the perpetrator of oppressive behaviour. There is room in every school curriculum to teach social skills and ethics as a separate subject from primary onwards.

        Et separatim – may I take this opportunity to introduce you to Benison O’Reilly who has also commented on this post? Benison is the co-author of The Australian Autism Handbook 🙂

  3. You made me cry & smile at the same time. How heartbreaking. I love your son, he reminds me of my big hearted little brother who was also teased for his flamboyant creativity at school. He’d go dressed as a fairy & take his guitar & make up songs about how much he loves our mum & Jesus. Gabriel is such a smart little man, your matter of fact logic will arm him against this & future attacks. Miss you guys a lot xox

  4. It’s depressing to see how early bullying begins. I remember being shocked a few years ago when I witness very sophisticated bullying being carried out by 6-year-old girls. My middle son responded (in his case effectively, although I wouldn’t recommend it) by breaking the bully’s nose with a single punch. It helps to be 185cm. Gabriel dealt with his bullies in a much more sophisticated manner . After reading this he is my hero today too. x

    • Many bullies have been vanquished in just this very manner so high fives to your son!

      The problem for girls (I suffered from this and the Minx will too) is that any retaliation that is physical will be seen entirely differently. I have always considered this to be terribly unfair since I grabbed the class bully in Primary 3 and repeatedly slammed the back of his head into a desk. Thereafter I was seen as trouble and singled out by teachers for criticism for my anger which of course exacerbated the bullying 🙂

      These days I have (almost worked through) my retaliation issues to the stage that I can wish bullies well for the rest of their bitter and poisonous lives. Which failing of course I just swear at them loudly in a Scottish accent which works rather well.

      I would love, however, to see a zero tolerance policy for bullying in schools, universities and workplaces. The legal profession is particularly bad for it …

  5. Oh dear, your son is the best! He’s such a great young guy! You did it so well saying that to him – if it’s a lie ignore it. Well done – and he got your words. You’re all amazing! Unfortunately, bullying always existed and will go on – I’m a former teacher and I used to see that so many times – even from parents to little kids. It’s something very very hurtful. I was bullied because of the big breasts – it did change the way I acted in the future, till I went through operation. You see, it’s not good. I truly admire your son’s attitude – wish I had done the same in the past!

    • The only good to come out of bullying is, if nothing else, the ability to recognise it and to call on it it. Hopefully too we can avoid doing it to others.

      I was walking from yoga class today with a dear friend wearing a rainbow tie died shirt. He is a true original and very true to himself. We walked past some gentleman with issues who commenced what was essentially a playground volley of nastiness for his dress sense. My friend shrugged it off and tactfully moved on.

      Learning not to let the cruel words change your impression of yourself is hard.

      How did you deal with bullying as a teacher? Must have been a hard and fairly constant battle.

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