When MaryAnn Parisi of West Haven, Connecticut, was informed by her son’s teacher that he was being bullied by his classmates, her initial reaction was to lash out at the unkindness her son was receiving. But she realized that if she was going to fight against bullying, anger was not the way to go at it.
The 36-year old mother of three took to social media to write an anti-bullying note on behalf of her 11-year old son Michael. On her Facebook post, she described how her son was born premature at 26 weeks. His premature birth led to some developmental challenges, which she believes were what Michael was bullied for.
“We all have children in our lives in some way or another, I challenge you to show and teach your children (or the children in your lives) my son’s story,” Parisi wrote in her Facebook post which has been shared over 3,600 times as of writing.
“Even the best children have moments of insecurity and weakness,” she added. “Teaching and showing him why he (or anybody else) is different might be the more positive way. Sometimes knowing is learning and growing. Sometimes we all need a reminder, because we all can have our moments.”
Parisi revealed that “I am not his bio mom. But in every other way, I am his mother.” She went on to describe how Michael “spent his first [three] months of his life fighting to survive” through shunts and blood transfusions, among others. Michael’s biological mother, Parisi said, left him three months later.
She mentioned other challenges Michael faced while growing up: not learning to talk until he was three years old, being delayed with walking, not having teeth until his first birthday, his poor eye-hand coordination, and his chewing problems. Despite such setbacks, she said Michael “loved.”
“There is not one person he doesn’t like/love, including those who tormented him today,” Parisi further said in her post. “He forgives and honestly, he forgets too. There is not one judgmental bone in his body.”
She went on to address Michael’s bullies directly, telling them: “You don’t have to like him, but you do have to respect him.”
“He’s a fighter, that’s a very small portion of his story,” she wrote in her conclusion. “Share, teach, grow. Most importantly respect those around, you never know what they have been through.”
Parisi recalled Michael told his teacher it was okay and he was getting used to the bullying. But she 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.”
[Image from MaryAnn Parisi/Facebook]