Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hear Me Roar

There's a bully on the school bus.

It happens all the time, I'm sure. We read about it...we hear about it...we feel sorry for the victims, and we can even find it in our hearts to feel sorry for the bullies. And as long as it doesn't directly affect us, we can sigh and move on.

But this time, it's my kid.

He comes off the bus, his young shoulders sagging. There's a fresh bruise on his forehead.

"What happened?" I ask, eyeing the bluish lump. "Did you fall?"

"No. A boy on the bus did it."

My little boy is perfect bully target. I can see that. While most boys his age enjoy running outside and kicking a ball around, he prefers sitting hunched over a thick book, head bent, glasses sliding to the tip of his nose. He's small. And he's not assertive. He won't fight back...probably doesn't even know how to.

I'm angry.

The bully is another mother's little boy. He may have low self esteem, or some behavioral issue, or something going on in his life... I don't know. I don't know what is causing the behavior.

And, frankly, I don't care.

He's hurting my son, displaying a cruelty unfathomable to me, and I can't find it in me to spare any sympathy for him.

"Why does he do it?" he asks, looking at me with such a wistful expression in his clear eyes. "I never did anything to him."

His expression is so sad, my heart is breaking into a million pieces. I choke back the tears. I don't have the answers.

I close my eyes, and I visualize the scene - my son on the floor of the school bus, pinned down by the much bigger boy, his head repeatedly pounded against the hard surface - and I am livid. My normally mild mannered self is gone; transformed into a tiger.

I call the school principal in the morning. He's not surprised. He makes a "deal" with the bully. If there are no complaints against him between now and Purim, he gets a special prize.

A prize? Prize?? Uh uh...not good enough for me. I am a tiger. I want blood.

My little boy seems satisfied. He doesn't want me to call the other mother, so I don't. Yet.

But I tell him, "If he hurts you again, I will go down to school, grab that kid by the collar and tell him, 'you touch my kid even go near him...I will personally come down here and break your bones'."

He smiles and looks at me. He doesn't think I'm serious.

"What if he does do it again? Will you really beat him up?"

I smile back. "I just wanna scare him. He won't do it again if I scare him enough."

But...what if he does? Would I do it? Would I?? He's just a kid himself, and I'm a grown woman. Of course I wouldn't do that. Of course not!

But don't test me.

I'm a tiger.


  1. This post reminds me of Jodi Picoult's book, Nineteen Minutes. I'yh you won't let it get nearly as bad as it does in the book but bullying is dangerous and cruel and needs to be nipped in the bud.
    You sound like a really good mother, not a tiger :-).

  2. I agree with halfshared. You must be a wonderful mother. I find that boys on the bus can be cruel. Almost like they have been suppressed all day, and that's where the rotten ones can let their aggressions out. And the schools have a "boys will be boys" attitude, and don't want to deal with it. I remember once on my son's bus, one boy told another boy a dirty joke. The menahel went ape shit, and whole "investigation" ensued. A lousy "tushie" joke, THAT they care about. A sweet little boy had his head stepped on? What else is new?

  3. I see the dilemma. personally, I often teach my son to hit back, but I wonder if that's the right thing to do. I'd rather my son learn how to punch that bully in the nose, and not miss, versus taking the bludgeoning and dealing with it later by snitching. Is that the right move?

  4. My heart breaks for you. I wish I had some magical answer to fix the problem.

    However, I can tell you that you are a wonderful mother.

    May the little bully get into counseling soon and get help for his anger issues.

    I will be praying for a happy solution.

    And, thank you for your kind words about my simcha.

    Hasya Ya'ara

  5. Oy. We've never had physical bullying, but I have a daughter who's been picked on girl-style, and I wanted to wring those girls' necks.

    On the other hand, my kids do carpool, not busing, and I have definitely seen my older son's physicality on the way home. I actually had to drop out of our carpool and drive every day so he wouldn't have to sit next to anyone, because he couldn't handle an accidental elbow at the end of a full school day. The closed in feeling when he was finally free made him kick seats and shove people out of his space.

    And my son is a really good kid in school- not a single complaint, ba"h, about negative or physical behavior. In fact, he'd rather do legos than run around. So I don't know the answer. I teach them to run, but if they can't, to fight back enough so they can run.

    Mom's are supposed to protect their kids like that. You'd do the mommy-equivalent of a beating and go at the issue from all angles until it's died a final death.

  6. Bernie, I disagree. There's too much agression in the world, and in life, violence breeds violence. I'd rather my boy turn the other cheek, be instinctively pacifist, the bloody nose won't kill him!

  7. I agree with menachem...
    You cant control others actions...but u can control your own..
    And that is TRUE power...

  8. halfshared...

    Thank you.
    I will nip this in the bud...whatever it takes.


    I agree. One dirty joke or bad word and you're out of there. That kind of thing does not look good for the yeshiva. Fighting...that's normal.


    I'm all for hitting back. I tried teaching my son that, but he can't...or won't.

    Hasya Ya'ara...

    Thank you! I hope he does, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Staying Afloat...

    Sometimes little girls can be pretty mean.
    As mothers, we want to protect them. That's why it's so frustrating when we can't.


    Did your son ever come home with a bloody nose?


    You're joking...right?