“You don't have to like him, but you do have to respect him … Respect those around [you], you never know what they have been through.”
Those were the poignant words penned in a Facebook post this week by a Connecticut mom to the bullies who taunt and torment her sixth grade son.
MaryAnn Parisi told ABC News that she was inspired to share her son Michael’s story after a recent conversation with his teacher.
“He told his teacher ‘It's OK, I'm getting used to [the bullying],’” the mom told ABC News. “That made me feel awful. It made me very angry because he shouldn’t be getting used to it. He should not be OK with it. Bullying is not OK. It's not acceptable and you do not get used to it.”
In her post, Parisi describes her son’s difficult childhood. He was born premature at 26 weeks, she said, which led to developmental challenges and medical issues.
“He didn't learn to talk till he was 3 years old. Walking was very delayed. He didn't have teeth till after his first birthday. He was so very behind,” she wrote.
Parisi believes that Michael may be bullied because of these challenges.
Addressing his bullies, the mom wrote in her post:
“You called him brace face today, before you were picking on him because of his eating habits. Did you know he physically cannot control the food staying in his mouth. Or how very bad his hand/eye coordination is ... Kicking his chair, calling him stupid, ugly, brace face, bucky beaver. Telling him to sit down and shut up is not the way.”
Parisi says that despite the bullying and the challenges he faces, Michael is remarkably resilient.
“To this day, his smile is the best thing ever. There is not one person he doesn't like/love, including those who tormented him today. He forgives and honestly, he forgets too. There is not one judgemental bone in his body. I strive to be more like him daily but fall very short,” she wrote on Facebook.
Still, the mom said Michael has been deeply affected by the taunting and bullying in school.
“He is most definitely resilient, but he was definitely bothered. There were tears and sadness. While he is amazing in his resiliency, in the end, he is still a young boy with very hurt feelings,” she told FOX 61.
Parisi told the news outlet that she's been heartened by the response her Facebook post has received so far. Many netizens have stepped forward to offer encouraging words to both mom and son.
“My post is definitely getting the reaction I had hoped and then some,” she said. “It is overwhelming, but necessary. Any form of bullying is not OK, if this helps in some small or large way, then it has done so much more than allowing an angry and hurt mom vent.”
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