Our youngest son complains of a boy at school that's been pretty bad. The boy's not in his class, it's after school, when our son waits on his older brothers to pick him up - so the teachers don't see it. It's to the point where there's concern with the stories we get - and drama on the way to school in the mornings as he argues that he doesn't want to go.
Our son won't tell his teacher, so we finally broke down and called the school and it will be handled now.
Many people believe kids should learn to handle it for themselves, however.
When I was young, around 12 or so, there was a boy on our bus. He messed with everyone coming and going, and the worst part of all was he was such a big kid, he probably could've driven himself to school.
When it came to my two friends and myself, he'd sneer his evil grin when our bus stop came. We had assigned seats and he'd sit in his, a few seats up and turn, so his back was against the window. He'd put his legs across the aisle, forcing us to stop while he blocked our path. Everytime we tried to get around him, he'd reach forward and grab our rear ends as we passed.
We three girls would scream at him to stop everyday. It made us mad and scared, esbeing in that awkward stage of Jr. High.
The bus driver would yell at him to cut it out, but the kid just threw his arms up in the air yelling innocently, "I didn't do anything! They're lying!"
One afternoon, my Dad saw I was upset. Wondering what was wrong, he was patient as it took awhile before I explained the situation. It was embarrassing, and I didn't know what to say.
He questioned how long it had gone on and what I'd done about it.
That's when his response surprised me.
"Tell the bus driver one last time and tell the school as well. If nothing happens and they don't stop the behavior, you need to handle it yourself."
Confused, I didn't know what he meant.
"Dad, he's huge. There's nothing I can do."
"Yes there is. You need to verbally tell him to stop, then warn him if he doesn't, you'll fight back."
"WHAT? I can't fight him."
"If you want him to stop, you're going to have to. You need to protect yourself no matter how scared you are, then run, and run fast. You'll get in trouble with the school, but I promise, you won't at home.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had grown up fighting with my big brother, but we always got in trouble for it. Now, Dad was telling me TO fight?
The days went on and I did what he said, but reporting him to the school, brought no change. Each day on the bus ride home, I was sick to my stomach and scared to death...until I couldn't take it.
It was time. He wasn't going to do it anymore and it was going to end.
As the screech of the brakes pulled our bus to a stop, I told my two girlfriends to let me go last, but to get out of my way.
"Okay, but why?"
"I'm going to fight him."
"You're going to WHAT?!"
Slowly walking down the narrow path, I watched as he snuck forward and grabbed one, then two in front of me. I waited a second and took a breath as he turned to target me.
"Come on." He grinned.
"Don't do it."
"I mean it, if you do it, I'll hit you."
Kids started turning around with wide eyes as his head went back from laughter.
The bus driver had no idea what was going on and started yelling for me to move.
Feeling the weight of my backpack on my shoulders, I positioned my clarinet behind my rear like I did everyday before. Looking straight into his eyes, I said it again, "Don't do it."
He snickered again teasing, "oooooooooo" as I neared, and stepped over his legs. Sure enough, he reached forward and grabbed me, hard.
Fear and rage took over as I threw my clarinet and backpack down, then lunged straight at him. The kids on the bus started screaming as I hit again and again with everything in me. He kept trying to lean forward, but I'd hit him back against the window.
I know he could've killed me, but I think the pure surprise of what was happening was enough to take him off guard. He didn't fight back.
Hearing our bus driver yell, I jumped off, and found myself crying uncontrollably. I felt for my backpack and clarinet, then shuffled down the aisle.
Running off the bus, I heard the driver say, "What in the?" as he yelled back in his rearview mirror for everyone to settle down.
I never said a thing about it. I didn't tell my parents or brother, I just waited for the punishment at school to occur.
Days passed but nothing came. No note from the school, call from the principal's office, nothing.
Better yet, every single day after school, when it came time to walk down that bus, the kid looked at the three of us and threw his arms up in the air shaking his head, "I'm not touching you" he'd mock, causing the bus to laugh.
He was making fun, but I'd take it. He never grabbed one of us again.
Weeks later, my dad called me into the kitchen.
"Whatever happened with you and the bus?" My throat tightened as I began to explain.
I was stopped short as Dad's smile grew wide across his face.
"I ran into your bus driver today. As soon as he saw me, he belted out the theme song to "Rocky"."
My words were lost.
"After he told me what had happened, he explained why you didn't get in trouble."
Shaking his head, he continued, "Your bus driver said that if he didn't see that punk grab you all those times, then he didn't see you beat the tar out of that punk, either."
Dad's smile grew even wider as he turned to go, "He also said you had a pretty mean right hook".
That was it. Nothing else was ever said. Nothing ever done.
It was a long time ago and things are different now, but the feelings from a bully are still the same.
We'll keep watch of the situation and see how things go from here for our second grader, but I'm sure they'll turn out fine. They often have a way of working themselves out in the end.
Just ask the kid on the bus.
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