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Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for March 9, 2017 is to tell a story about bullying. A time you witnessed it and stepped up or maybe a time you witnessed and did nothing. Or, if you haven’t had a personal experience with bullying, feel free to write a fiction piece on this topic.

Kat suggested this timely topic a while ago and I have been hesitating to schedule it, not because I don’t think it’s a great idea, but because I couldn’t think of an actual story I had to tell about bullying. That’s the real reason I added the bit about writing a fictional post on the topic. Of course you know that as soon as I actually did the thinking part of Think Write Thursday I remembered a story where I witnessed bullying.

It was 1989 and I was at King Richard’s Faire with my first husband, Rick. (I realize I don’t write about Rick here very often but just know he’s a good guy and a great dad and I consider him part of my family.) We had spent most of the day at the fair and we were looking to get something to eat. The lines were incredibly long and slow but I had my heart set on a turkey leg so we waited. And waited and waited. Finally, a young boy of about 14 came out with two turkey legs and the first two people in line paid and went on their way. The next person in line, a very large man, started yelling at this boy about how long he had been waiting. And he just wouldn’t let up. He was going on and on about the time and the lack of preparation on the part of the kitchen and the expense and who even knows what else. And he was swearing. The kid tried to answer him but eventually just stood there as this guy rained down insult upon insult. Finally, I spoke up and told this man to knock it off. I pointed to the long line behind me, said we were all in the same boat and that this child was not responsible for the situation. It was at this point that Rick, who had been standing silently next to me, pulled on my arm and whispered what are you doing? do you see how big he is? he’s way bigger than me and he’s not going to punch you because you’re a girl, he’s going to punch me. But I was not dissuaded and I looked this big man right in the eye and told him to stop with the yelling, stop with the complaining, and stop with the swearing.

And something very interesting happened.

He walked away. First he shook his head at me and called me a meddlesome bitch, but he walked away. Let me say it again. When confronted and called out for his bad behavior he backed down and walked away.

Now. I’m well aware it could have gone in a completely different direction and Rick could have wound up with a concussion. But it didn’t and it made me realize that sometimes all it takes is one person to stand up for what’s right. I’m glad I got to be that person in that moment.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. It’s really hard to speak up, but I’m glad you had the courage to do just that,and even more glad that the situation was defused and ended without violence.

  2. Great intervention, Carole. I am sure that young boy was relieved at your coming to his aid. And, a good reminder that a vocal bully most of the time is all bluster and when confronted they fall apart. Thank you for sharing! XOXO

  3. Good for you! I’d like to think that I might have done the same thing, but it’s hard to say. I tend to go completely “underground” when faced with confrontation. (True confessions.)

  4. Do I know anything about bullying? Let’s see, I went to the junior high where my dad was a teacher. Yep, I’m aware of the concept. Mostly, I just ignored those kids since I knew it was a) not appropriate behavior and b) it was really about them struggling in my dad’s class. There was one boy who was stupid enough to keep bugging me and saying really awful things about my dad. One day, I finally had enough and challenged him. He was the sort who thought fighting was the way to win, especially since he was bigger than me. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, but he tried to put his arm around my neck. All those times Coach Dad had demonstrated wrestling moves on me kicked in. Before I even realized it, I had grabbed his arm, threw my hip into him and tossed him on his back on the ground. His friends laughed while I stood over him and told him he better not ever bother me again. I was a little worried about getting into trouble so I told my dad that night. He did suggest I try not to do that again if I could walk away. Then, he called the kid’s parents to make sure the boy was OK. I’m pretty sure he was OK until his parents (who were very old school) learned he had been fighting a girl. The guy apologized the next day. The incident did give me some street cred and I had a lot fewer hassles after that.

  5. Good for you in standing up to him. I’m painfully aware that no one else in line stepped up to defend the boy or you! I’d like to think we’d all have your courage Carole. You’re a great role model!

  6. Just gotta comment here, and first let me say thank you for writing this today. I was bullied as a 7th grader by two 8th grade girls – one was actually a girl from my neighborhood. Now, this happened waaay back in the mid-70s. Those two girls would approach me every morning when I got off the bus at school and taunt me all the way into the building, threatening to beat me up. I was terrified. Eventually it stopped (with some parental/school intervention) – that’s not the important part – but this is. A few months ago, I visited a restaurant near my home and, upon sitting down, saw the neighbor girl bully sitting with some people I could only assume were her parents and siblings (family resemblance and age). Although I had not seen that person in over 40 years I was IMMEDIATELY and simultaneously both intrigued and terrified. I wanted to say something, and at the same time, I wanted to get up and run out of that place as fast as my feet would carry me. In the end, I did neither, I just observed, and eventually she and her people left. We never did make eye contact, although I was hoping we would – I wanted to know if she recognized me the way I recognized her. I guess my whole point here is that bullying can leave a permanent and lasting mark on the person being attacked. I know it did to me.

  7. In sixth grade, I was playing coed softball. My position was third base. A really aggressive male classmate got a good hit and decided to push me hard as he got to third (no, I wasn’t that kind of girl). Everyone was sympathetic until I retaliated and left him on the ground. Don’t mess with this girl! Who’s the bully?

  8. I think this is a great topic to address, and I truly did have a post in my head. In jr high and high school I was teased constantly about things I had no control over. I never felt bullied, but kids were just not nice and said some very cruel things. I really wish my 40+ self could have had a talk with my 13 year old self about how I shouldn’t care about what was said to me. When I became a Mom, I did everything I could to prepare my boys for the unkindness of others in an effort to spare them what I went through. PJ never had any issues, but Andrew was so like me, almost heartbreaking. Fortunately, they both survived this time without too much drama, but they knew I understood and was there for them and wouldn’t brush off anything that hurt them deeply. People are so unkind, if our goal was to be uplifting and encouraging imagine what a peaceful place this world would be. Sometimes we have to talk about the unpleasant things in life.

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