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Thursday 2/16/23

A friend of mine has two girls. My friend is the rare person who is wholly there for me. There's no envy, no passive aggressiveness, no games, no compromised morals, no reluctance to do the right thing, no ripping at me, no attempt to even some imagined score because of what I am. To date, I have very little of that in my life. In some ways, my friend is more than a friend and more than family. As such, I care about his family. The two girls are very different from each other. The younger one is brash, performative, and tough. The older one--who is in seventh grade--is very smart, funny, but sensitive and shy. She loves horses.

She's had a terrible time at school, which is coming to a head. She's bullied. As a white kid, she's in the minority at her school, and now that bullying is taking on a racial aspect, in that she has limited options--and there are certainly limited solutions--with how discipline or punishment is handed out, because of the racial environment. It is evident that a lot of appeasing is done, and many allowances are made, because of skin color and the kind of posturing that is now everywhere in society. Or many places, anyway.

A group of girls threatened to hurt her. They made a video on social media. Now she's being hit in the head by a boy. My friend told me the kid looks like an adult.

My friend is at the school a lot, but the people in charge don't do anything. He said to me that they're a lot like the crazy, broken people I deal with in publishing. You know--the smash the patriarchy type, with the pink hair, who are toxic, crammed with self-loathing, and unstable.

To better frame what he was talking about, he referenced a woman I had dealt with on a dating site a couple months back. He knew about this woman because I did what I sometimes do and screenshot the exchange and sent it to him. The truth is, most people are as crazy as this woman was, so it wasn't a greatest hits type of deal or anything. It was just another example of insanity. You see more and more of it in our society. Many of these people are in publishing. And many of them are teachers. And also academics.

The woman had written me, so I looked at her profile. She was resolutely unathletic, had the purple hair. The usual. In her profile, she wrote that she had suffered a sexual injury with her last "partner." (Word to the wise: Be wary of people who use the term "partner.") I had no clue what this meant nor did I understand why you'd put it in your dating profile of ten words. That's the thing people most need to know about you?

You do one of two things with someone like this. If they are discriminating against you, you put them up on this blog. If they're someone you have a chance encounter with in life, you move on. Fast, with as little fuss as possible. Get away. You don't give them a toehold to do their insanity in your life, which is what they want more than anything. It's the whole of their lives. Their non-lives, I should say.

So, I politely said that I wasn't interested--as politely as I did, really, for one reason: To avoid that insanity. But sometimes you can't avoid the insanity. She wrote back: "I'm glad you condone rape."

You like that? I kept the screenshot on my phone, because I realized that if I said anything about this to someone, they might think that that couldn't happen. (Similarly, that's one of many reasons why the posts in this journal about people and venues in publishing are so thorough, because you can't just say, "Most of these people are crazy, incompetent, evil bigots"--which is the truth, because that's so bad that it wouldn't seem like it could be the reality. So what you have to do is be as thorough and specific as possible, and then it's impossible for anyone else to think that most of these people are not crazy, evil bigots. Because there it is. Laid out, exacting, detailed, undeniable, time and again.) But not only is it what happened, it's a kind of norm now. That is our world at this moment in time.

So it's not rare. People are that crazy. This kind of person is always that crazy. So when my friend said, "The people in charge at her school are like the 'I'm glad you condone rape' woman," I know that they won't be providing solutions.

I'm also not sure what the solutions could be. The child is terrified to go to school. My friend bought her a pair of Nike shoes for Christmas, and he asked her recently why she hadn't worn them to school. She said that they'd get stolen. She fakes being sick a lot, because she doesn't want to go.

It's a very scary situation for her, and it's a scary situation for my friend. He has a tendency to tap out. He's there for his family. I'm not suggesting that. But my friend, like most people, gets overwhelmed. It became a greater concern of mine that something could happen almost without him seeing how it could have happened.

Every day I see these news stories of kids who are bullied--and sometimes it's being made fun of in the hall, not smacked in the head--who hurt themselves or worse. The parents don't see it coming. I should say, too, that my friend's daughter doesn't share a lot. She doesn't open up with her mom and dad. She keeps things to herself. My friend is not someone who opens up much either. It's not his nature. Whereas, it's mine. But I know him so well that I know what's going on. I think his daughter is an at-risk kid.

He was at the school yesterday for hours. He went outside when he was waiting for the principal to get back from somewhere, and we started talking. I said to him that something has to be done. It can't just keep going like this. I asked about another school. He said that this is how it is in their area. When she goes to high school, there will be metal detectors she has to pass through every morning. He had told me earlier about this sixth grade boy at her school who was beaten up so badly that he had his arm broken.

So I broached the topic of homeschooling. As I said, she's a smart kid. I've seen the curriculum and the mindless, woke idiocy of which it's comprised. They're not teaching her anything worth knowing. My friend had said that he doesn't want her to be someone who runs from problems. I understand that. Of all people, do I understand that.

But I don't think that would be running. I think it would be finding a solution. What I've seen happen--from afar--is that the child has become more and more dependent on her parents for things. Part of that is because of a lack of other things. And she wants a safe haven. My friend works a lot. When he doesn't work, he tends to overcompensate and spend each waking moment with his kids. Which is great in one way, but with the older one, certainly, she's not as independent as she should be. But she's hurting. And she's scared. I think she's lonely and down on herself. She's not making friends. Other friend-making avenues are not being pursued.

Yesterday she said she was sick, and my friend gently suggested that he knew she wasn't. She didn't have a fever, and she'd been sick forty-seven times, which was the exaggerated number he used, but the point holds. She wouldn't go. My friend ended up going.

The safety and the well-being comes first. That's what takes priority. That's one part of a solution. Then there are other parts of solutions the larger problem and to other issues. I texted my friend this:

"I really think you need to make a change here. If something happened to this child, you'll never get over it and you'll blame yourself. I think you should have a very serious discussion with ( ) about homeschooling, and then with ( ). If you decide to go that route, I'll help with some of it. I'll help her with English and the history side of things. I can do a little curriculum and she and I can FaceTime. Homeschooling is often seen as a positive. Homeschooled kids tend to be smart and they become independent thinkers. There's no stigma. There are creative solutions to socialization. I'm sure there are social groups for homeschooled kids and activities for ( ) to join. I'll help you find them. I really don't like where this is going, though. It's a kid who could hurt herself or worse. This is a hell for her. She's overwhelmed. She's losing hope, if she hasn't already lost it. Then really bad things can happen. You wouldn't be privy to enough to be able to stop those bad things. As I said, I'll help. It won't be hard for me."

Then during my workout I found various activity groups for homeschooled kids in his area--there are, as I suspected, a lot--where kids can make friends with other kids, and I texted him those three links just to show that they were there.

I don't know what he'll do ultimately. But it seems like there isn't a single reason how this can be good for the child. The bullying has been going on for a long time. It's not new. What concerns me a lot is how withdrawn she is. She doesn't talk about these things. She's becoming someone who bottles it away. That is not a recipe for good things. And it's scary. I see a kind of pattern all the time.

My late sister Kerrin was bullied a lot in middle school and she didn't tell my mom about it because she thought it would upset her. And that bullying was a big reason, I believe, that she went down a really dark road. She didn't officially kill herself, but in a different way she did. Drugs became how she tried to deal with things, alleviate her pain, how terrible she felt about herself, and then she couldn't stop, she couldn't get herself out, the addiction took her.

I would also like to help because I believe my friend's child would talk to me. People tend to open up to me in ways that they don't with other people. It's because of how I am and how I talk and what I pick up on. There's an irony to this, maybe, given how intimidated just about everyone I have ever known or come in contact with has been over the course of my life. People see my mind and they're terrified. Not because they think I'm cruel. But when they know me up close, they usually feel safe in a real way. And safe to open up and be themselves. That's really all I'm talking about here.


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