DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: A few years ago, when our son was a young teen and could no longer endure the pain caused by the taunting and cyberbullying by classmates over his sexual orientation, my husband and I moved him from that school to another. All of us had counselling to help him and our family move forward, which we have. But an incident that occurred at the new school continues to haunt my son and me. A temporary teacher, known for his uncontrollable temper and capability of reducing students to tears, let loose and my son became the recipient of this teacher's ballistic outburst. I'm ashamed of myself for not having stood up to this man when my boy was at his most vulnerable, and still feel this is something I need to address. Our son, who is still struggling, has not forgotten the teacher's outburst, and remembers this incident with painful clarity. I occasionally see this teacher in social situations, and would like to broach this incident with him. Should I, and if so, how? -- Mother in Pain, Winnipeg
Dear Mother in Pain: It'd make your son feel good to find out you finally let this bullying temp teacher have it, even belatedly. Ask him what he'd like to have this teacher hear. No doubt he'd be happy to help you plan a tongue-lashing, which you must memorize (so you don't forget it in the heat of the moment), to be delivered at your next social opportunity. Take the man out of the room and say your piece. Be prepared for his rebuttal with one of your own, so you don't stand there sputtering, or just turn on your heel and go before he says anything. You only have one life. Live it the way you want to, and that includes telling off people who need to be told off. Think how much stress holding it in has caused you and your son, and how many more kids this guy has bullied since, and how many more he might harm. Make the stand for your son. Then go one necesary step further, and try to prevent this from happening to more kids. You and your husband should report this man to the authorities in the school division, who can get him out of the schools.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to the woman who has had such a cold reception from Winnipeggers that she's moving. The Newcomers Club of Winnipeg (992-2999) is a social group that welcomes women who have moved to the Winnipeg area within the last two years. It's a non-profit that provides support and companionship with potlucks, coffee mornings, craft mornings, "girls nights out" cards and social events where spouses or partners are welcome. I also have lived in three countries -- England, the United States, and now Canada. I wished I'd known about Newcomers while in the U.S. Women need other women to talk to and connect with, and without this friendly bunch of ladies, life here would be difficult. If the lady who wrote does move east, I suggest she contact her local Newcomers Club when she arrives. She won't regret it. -- Regards, Susan A.
Dear Susan: Thanks for writing with this suggestion, which could help a lot of lonely newcomers in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, the lonely lady who wrote is 10 years down the pike, and moving as soon as she has the money. But if she or anybody else is facing a move and feeling anxious about being lonely, the website for locations and information is http://newcomersclub.com/. It connects people to Newcomers Clubs all over North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and one Caribbean island -- Jamaica.
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