The mother watched for the bus to arrive at the bus stop. For the past week, some big girl had been picking on her daughter, and the mother planned to put a stop to it. Every day, her daughter arrived home in tears because the big girl picked on her. Some days, the big girl stole her daughter’s winter hat as her daughter entered the bus to ride home. The big girl always returned the hat, of course, but her daughter did not know that she would. Other days, the big girl taunted her daughter about being small or about crying when the big girl took her hat.
The mother’s hear broke because her daughter loved school but hated the bus ride home. However, the family only had one car, and the father needed it to go to work. The family lived nearly two miles from the school, and the daughter was in first grade. They could not walk her to school and home again, and they certainly could not allow her to walk alone as there were many dangerous intersections between the school and their home.
The mother tried to get her daughter to tell her the big girl’s name, but her daughter did not know it. Her mother wanted to call the school to see if she could get the big girl’s phone number. Then she could have called the family to see if the parents would get the girl to stop picking on her daughter. More than likely, though, even if she had known the big girl’s name, the school could not give out the family’s information. The mother had tried to get the school to do something about it, but they said that it was not a big deal. They had no reports of any harassment on the bus Her daughter’s teacher sympathized but said it was not impacting the girl’s schoolwork.
The mother decided that there was only one thing left to do.
Waiting for the bus to arrive at the bus stop, she could feel the blood in her veins start to coarse more quickly. Her breath and heart rate increased. She was angry. Some big girl was picking on her daughter; it was time to make her see the error of her ways. Today was the day that would end all of this nonsense. Today was the day when her daughter’s crying would stop. Today was the day when that big girl would understand that no one – not even a big girl – could mess with the mother’s daughter.
The bus arrived, and she watched for the big girl. She looked into the eyes of each of the students who came off the bus. Who is it? She saw her daughter and put out her arms.
“Which one is she?” the mother asked her daughter who then pointed.
The mother, startled, questioned, “Are you sure?” The daughter nodded.
The “big girl” was a short, chubby girl with glasses. She could have not been more awkward if she had tried. This threw the mother off her a game just a bit, and her anger simmered down a notch. Today would not be the day for revenge. But something still needed to be done.
“You there, “ she said as she pointed to the chubby girl. “What is your name?”
“Stacy,” the girl replied confidently. “Why do you ask?”
“You have been picking on my daughter. Why are you doing that? You are not so tough. You are not even that big. Why would you pick on her? Look at your brother over there – he isn’t even that much older than my daughter. Why are you picking on her?” The words fell from the mother’s mouth as if she had rehearsed them. Every time she said the word why, she pounded her fist at her side…the anger so close but so controlled.
“I don’t know, “ the girl shrugged as confidence drained from her.
“Well…it’s over. No more of that. It doesn’t make you any better. Those other kids won’t think you are cool because you pick on my daughter. Don’t do it anymore,” the mother said as her words pierced the girl.
“You aren’t going to tell my parents, are you?” the girl asked. Obviously, this would be bad news for her.
“I won’t…if you stop it. And – if you walk my daughter home every day from the bus. If you miss school, you need to call me so that I know to meet her at the bus stop. Will you do that?”
The girl nodded.
“And – you have to keep anyone else from picking on her. If you don’t protect her, who will?”
The girl nodded again.
And that is how I spent the rest of the school year. I sat with the little girl. I made sure no one picked on her. And I walked her home every day before I returned to my own house.
We all have the potential to be bullies unless someone is willing to put us in our place or keep us in check. The best way to do that is to make us work out our own demons so that we can see the world through different eyes. I was a good kid, but I had made some bad choices. I was not physically hurting this little girl, but I was not being kind. Her mom somehow knew that she could trust me to do what she had asked, and it made me a better person because of it.
This is the second installment in a series about bullying.