Thankfully, I’ve outgrown the need to engage in retaliatory violence. Sure, sometimes I get mad at people for their rude and inconsiderate behavior, but there are better ways to approach aggressive situations. Mostly, it involves the use of one’s brain.
I am thrilled that my little boy has not yet exhibited the trait that leads to violent retaliation. He has inherited his father’s peaceful, above-it-all demeanor. He’s a lover, not a fighter. He’s smart and pretty darn cute if I do say so. I’m proud of him, but at the same time saddened that he has quietly endured the confusion, anxiety and stress that comes with daily exposure to a bully.
Yeah, yeah..I know. Bully has become the buzzword of the moment. Yet, there really is a dyed-in-the-wool bully in my son’s first grade class. It first came to our attention on the day before Thanksgiving break. It was a Thursday afternoon when the school called to inform me that Joe had been punched in the stomach (read here). Over the past few months, my little guy has grown increasingly anxious and emotional before bed. He unwillingly drags himself out of bed each morning and goes to school where he has (mostly) silently suffered more punching, pushing, kicking, poking, slapping, intimidation, being tripped and striking his head on the floor and most recently, a hold that I can only describe as one that law enforcement uses to subdue people.
How do I know this happened? Well, my kind, polite, smart little boy came home last week and dissolved into tears. For the first time in ages, he crawled into my lap and just wanted to be hugged. Though he was afraid, he finally spilled the beans about his bully. Later, when he had calmed down he said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you… so-and-so also grabbed my wrist like this and twisted up and then pulled my shoulder back really super far…like this.” I was horrified. My father is a retired New York State Trooper. I’ve seen the move before. (Specifically, in our Fort Myers parking lot tussle.) I shudder to think that a seven-year-old child would know how to do this and practice on my six-year-old boy. On some level, I am sorry for the bully. I hate to jump to conclusions, but I can’t help but wonder what is going on at this boy’s house.
Another far less evolved part of me fantasizes about having a Freaky Friday. One that would enable me to spend just one day in my son’s body. Oh, the revenge I could deliver! Yes, I know it’s wrong, but I can fantasize, right?
I want to get off the school bus with my Batman backpack slung over my shoulder and enter the school with Darth Vader’s music loudly announcing my arrival. The Imperial March would follow me down the hall, causing a sea of K-3 children to part in shock and awe. I’d mess with that bully’s head so bad, he’d have no idea what hit him. Of course I wouldn’t use violence. Instead, I would come prepared with an arsenal of advanced weaponry in my backpack. Some Super Glue, cayenne pepper, Ex lax, various booby-traps, dog poo, fake vomit. I could go on and on here. Gradually, my imagination conjures scenes that resemble hilarious Disney-type pranks. There might even be a fake studio audience emitting gasping ’oohs‘ and laughter when the bully’s pants get stuck to his seat with that Super Glue. Alas, reality doesn’t provide Disney-esque Freaky Friday body exchanges and, since they remain physically impossible, I am limited to my fantasy acts of innocent, G-rated revenge.
I once had a big ol’ bully. His name was Billy Madison. Really, it was.
He would chase me down on the playground and kick me or throw me to the ground. He had a list of swear words that would make a sailor blush. I tried to avoid him, but he was inexplicably drawn to my long braids. I came to dread morning when my mother braided my hair. Braids guaranteed that I’d suffer some good, sharp hair pulling at the hands of Billy Madison.
Maybe Joe’s bully bothers me so much because he bears a striking resemblance to Billy Madison. Maybe his bully bothers me because I wish I could tell Joe to fight back. Maybe a small part of me wishes Joe inherited that trait that only allows people to push ‘so far’ before a tussle ensues. Maybe part of me is frustrated that we can’t afford to pay for private school. Maybe our meeting with the school’s administrative staff on Monday afternoon will help…