Today we tackle an insidious situation, one that’s only been made worse by the proliferation of the intarwebs: The Bully.
There are articles galore out there testifying how the centuries old trend of picking on the weak is alive and well, with tons of heinous examples of people being driven to the very brink by the assholes of society. I hate those filthy swine with every fiber of my being, hate to the volcanic core what they do to others in the name of popularity, insecurity, small genitalia compensation, whatever.
Clearly, I was bullied as a child.
And I remember them all, as vividly as I remember the beatdowns they inflicted upon a once-upon-a-time skinny kid like me. Shea Morenz, Bodine French and Austin Prince doled out regular charley-horses, public shunnings and playground mock-o-ramas on a semi-daily basis to me and a handful of other weirdo types. It didn’t help our cause any that we had no cohesion, weren’t part of some lovable gang of losers like you might find on an after-school special. We weren’t nerds who then went on to become ultra-billionaires, either, so there’ll be no Bill Gates moments in the future. No, I was in the company of characters like the kid who insisted on being called “Punker Joe”, even though his name wasn’t Joe and his distinguishing characteristic was that he always had two slug trails of snot hanging from his nostrils to his upper lip. It was hard to form an allegiance with someone who mostly spent time talking to the monkey bars and had an aversion to Kleenex.
So we suffered in an isolated fashion, taking refuge in our own minds, quietly, secretly hoping that the recess yard monitor lady would turn the corner at some point and catch them in the act, whip a pistol out of her purse and shoot them dead. That never happened, oddly enough. And, as the unpopular objects of the attention of the kings of the school yard, we were only too happy to be left alone when they doled out harassment to others, thereby becoming silent enablers of the taunting.
Except for Charles Spaulding. The only thing I really remember about Charles was that he wanted to be called “Charles”, not “Charlie” nor “Chuck” or anything else. That, and he seemed to have an affinity for wearing a yellow rain jacket, even on sunny days. He really, really loved that jacket. Nonetheless, he was the only one who would intervene on behalf of the bullied, when he himself wasn’t being punched or ridiculed. He was a scrawny punk, little Charles, but he had a sense of justice that wouldn’t allow for him to stand by when the gang of the popular were dispensing wedgies. He took more than one hit to the face trying to stop some other kid from getting a smacking. I hope Charles is the most successful guy in the world, because he? Was one brave little third grader who had the clankers to stand up for what’s right.
I responded in a more traditional fashion: I retreated into my own head and became a sarcastic little son-0f-a-bitch with a substantial chip on my shoulder. It seems to have served me okay, at least to this point. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve become a giant hairy sarcastic son-of-a-bitch who, according to my wife, looks like a homicidal maniac by default, thereby thwarting modern-day bullies through the art of the unintentional bluff.
Unfortunately, fantasizing about just desserts doesn’t leave you as satisfied as you’d like. So what, the bullies became meth-addicted male prostitutes who live under the pier and get their meals from the dumpster? Or, more likely, they’re the bosses we’ve come to hate, wildly successful with thinning hair and wives half their age and bank accounts to match. Either way, it makes it no easier to go through the rituals of their bullying ways during the school years.
So, as a solution for my own boys, I’ve tried my very best to instill the value of sticking up for those who can’t, with the not-so-veiled undertones of my intolerance for bullying by them. Already, Heathen #1 has had his share of dealing with the yard bully, the football bully and the schoolbus bully. I wonder if their parents know their own children are behaving like little cretins; maybe school-age bullies are the children of adult assholes, which would seem to make sense.
Myself, I say we arm the yard monitors.
Last week my darling daughter enlightened me on the subject of the teasing that she gets on a daily basis. It makes me hurt inside and want to rob a bank so I can afford the braces to fix her “buck toothed beaver” smile that is oh so beautiful to me but seems to be the butt of many school yard jokes. And yes…I believe that the bully’s are usually a product of the environment they are raised in. Oh that we could arm the yard monitors for sure.
Yeah, I got picked on too. A lot on the school bus in Jr. High…and by a girl I secretly liked (which sucked). Funny thing is I met her last year working on a project her company had me do. Didn’t remember me. She was amazed I remembered her (didn’t tell her why).
I remember one time a guy in class told me I’d make an ugly girl. There was a guy in gym class who wanted to punch on me, but I survived that okay. It sucked, but I wonder how I would handle it now in the world of YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, etc. I really wouldn’t want to be in school now. Back then the most you had to worry about was getting beat on…now it’s guns, knives, or an embarassing display online. I think most of it comes from how the child is treated at home. If they’re marginalized or ignored they’re gonna take it out somewhere. However, if they’re loved and the parents take an real interest in them I think chances are good they’ll be respectful of others…possibly coming to the aid of others being picked on. Until that day, I agree…arm the yard monitors and school bus drivers!
Nice…very nice. I will be pulling my 5th grader from school and homeschooling him *shudder* because he keeps getting suspended for protecting himself from bullies. Our rule is never throw the first punch but if someone starts it, you finish it. Yet, he’s the one getting in trouble. I don’t think arming the yard monitor works. But if I could swirly every one of those punks…well, I’d at least laugh like an idiot.
My only hope is that my grandchildren wont go through what I and my children went through. I guarded them like gold….and when they had bad days at school we retreated to ice cream and video games to soften the blow. For some odd reason the world never seem to be in short supply of bullies. And those heroes who … “instill the value of sticking up for those who can’t”…. don’t really exist.
Time after time the others (good kids) just stood by and watched for fear of the bully. Or the (parents) denied their children were the culprit. The Lesson learned is my youngest daughter seeing this and all what her brother and sister went through became that cynical sarcastic (sum-o-a-bit*h). No one bullies her now….I just worry I don’t want her to become a bully so as not to be bullied. Dont get me wrong they have many good memories but somehow you never forget being bullied. Seems I cant win (sidenote we never threw the first punch)
Good Luck with that …..some Bullies like to eat home-schooled kids for lunch.