Kathleen BrothertonColumnist/Youth Editor
- January 17, 2015 in Columnists
The legacy of Bart Palosz
Bart Palosz haunts me. Every now and then, he pops into my head, which results in the breath being knocked from my chest. I immediately plug his name into Google and let the mouse slide over each and every picture. He would have been a handsome man. He would have been the sort of man well worth marrying. Bart would have cherished his wife and doted upon his children. I’ve read every article about Bart Palosz. I’ve read his blogs on Google. I did not have the privilege of knowing this gentle spirited young man. I am mourning Bart Palosz.
Bart walked to middle school every day. He was pushed into thorn bushes, the flesh being scratched off his bare arms. Once he moved onto high school, he was shoved into lockers. Bart was taunted for being tall. He was tormented for having acne. He was singled out and ostracized for being different. His cell phone was taken from him and smashed in Biology class. One day, he was shoved into a locker with such force his head was split, requiring medical attention. I wonder if his cheeks burned with humiliation every time he was taunted. I wonder if Bart lived with a constant knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach.
Bart begged his mother to stay home from school. It was the first day of the tenth grade.The unspoken ranking system of Motherhood has a child’s education at the top of How-Good-Of-A-Mother-Are-You-Scale. There is no negotiation in education! The problem with being forced to live in a world of black and white absolutes is that we can be lost in the shades of gray. His mother did what she was supposed to do. His mother did what society demanded that she do. She sent Bart to school.
August 27, 2013 was Bart’s final day of school. Fifteen year old Bart Palosz ended his life.
I look at Bart Palosz and I see my son Joseph. Bart was two years older than my son. They never met. They would have been fast friends if they’d had the opportunity to cross paths. Bart’s parent’s moved to Greenwich, CT for opportunities for their children. I did the very same thing. Joseph, undiagnosed with ADHD, was struggling. Joe wanted to skateboard, to draw in his sketch book. He was never looking for trouble from teachers or anyone else. Joseph’s struggle was immediately identified in the sixth grade. Interventions were put in place to help him. While his educational progress improved, social acceptance not such an easy task. Joseph, like Bart, has a fatal flaw, Joseph is kind.
A kind teenager equals an injured, bleeding seal in a pool of ravenously hungry sharks. Kindness is treated as weakness and rewarded with abuse. If your child is shy, kind,anxious or introverted, you need to advocate for their safety. You need to get involved and STAY INVOLVED. It is okay to embarrass them – an embarrassed child trumps a dead child.
“Mom, I need a pineapple!” Joseph came bursting through the door, his face contorted as he tried to hold himself together.
He didn’t need a spikey tropical fruit. He needed me to listen to him without being reactionary. He needed to speak to me without fear of punishment. He needed me to make him feel safe immediately. “Pineapple” was our safe word that guaranteed all those things.
A game of Truth or Dare resulted in another child relieving himself on the back of my son’s shirt. Joey turned – his back was completely soaked with urine. His voice cracked as he tried to tell me the story. He tried to choke back the tears, but they came anyway.
“He pissed on me Ma, he pissed all over me.”
My son being urinated on was the hardest Pineapple to date. I wanted to wrap my hands around that child’s neck and squeeze until his eyeballs rolled across the floor. I honored the pineapple. Joseph did not want me to react. He wanted his mother to hold him tight after he showered off the humiliation.There is nothing more important to successfully raising teens than keeping the lines of communication open. Your child must be able to come to you when they are hurt. Bart Palosz ending his life was like a bucket of iced water splashed into my face. Want your teen to reach adulthood? Be completely present in their lives. You make them clean their room. You make them do their homework. You make them follow a curfew.
MAKE THEM TALK TO YOU!
Every day, a half an hour is designated for discussion with my boys. If they are not in the mood to talk, I’m not in the mood to let them play X-Box. Talking is the most important activity of the day. I decided the best way to connect to my son was commonality. I followed every skateboarder on Instagram I could find. I pay attention to what interests him – what excites him. I find drawings of Japanese Animation Characters he might want to draw. I draw him out with topics he WANTS to talk about, which leads to topics he NEEDS to talk about.
I created iPinionSyndicate Young Columnist’s to give young people a voice. I wanted to give teens and young adults the ability to create and join the conversation. I think if someone had joined Bart Palosz’s conversation, there might have been an intervention to prevent the loss of his life. He loved to blog.
Bart Palosz had a conversation. He needed the world to join it.