There is a boy at school that knocks off my son’s hat and takes it from him.
As I am preparing supper, I tell my husband of a situation between two adults where the one adult isn’t being very nice to the other. My son is listening and in the mist of the conversation, he says, “Adults can be bullies, too?”
“Is someone bulling you?” I ask him, and that’s when he tells me about the boy who knocks off his hat and even shoves him on occasion.
In my kids school districts we’re supposed to have a “no bulling” rule. So I ask, “Have you told anyone? Your teacher?”
“I don’t want to get him in trouble,” my son says.
I give my third grader a knife and with my hand over his, I show him how to cut zucchini that I’m about to fry for supper. He proceeds to tell me, “It wouldn’t be fair for him to get suspended or have detention because he’s not nice.”
“But if he doesn’t understand what he has done is wrong, then he won’t stop doing it,” I tell him.
“He just thinks it’s fun.”
I take the cut zucchini and place it in a frying pan. My son watches and I stir the cut pieces. “Do you think it is fun?”
“No,” he says.
“I’m glad that you told me this. I want you to tell your teacher, too.”
“Why? He’ll just keep doing it?” my son insists.
“That might be so, but there will be consequences and other people will be looking out for you,” I say, thinking of the situation between the two adults. There is no teacher to tell and no set consequences for the actions of an adult bully.
I can tell right away that my son forgives this boy for his actions. He accepts this boy and his behavior, even if it annoys him, and moves on with his day. Are we not called to do the same thing? Are we not supposed to forgive seven times seventy?
Yet, as children we know no better until we are taught otherwise. I think of the adult who is unkind to another, and wonder if this person hadn’t been taught the same? Surely, they went to school and even back in a time well before my son, there were bullies, and I know there were rules.
“Mom, do adults tell on each other when they’re not nice to each other?”
“Sometimes,” I tell him as we sit at the table for our meal. All of my children are now aware of my son’s situation, and tuned into our conversation.
We’re a family. We gather together to protect and love each other. Needless to say, the boy who knocks off my son’s hat will have some sisters to answer to if he even dares go near their brother.
But for the adult… who stands and protects us from someone who is mean? Often like my son, we don’t tell when someone picks on us or hurts our feelings or even goes beyond and gets aggressive.
We’re adults, right? We can handle it.
If only it were so easy as to hold up our hand and say “Stop!”
Unfortunately, no one can fully stop a bully from behaving the way they do.
We can encourage them and demonstrate the qualities we hope they will acquire from us and pray it is so. However, many of us are like my son. We say nothing. We do nothing. We sometimes avoid the people and the places we love in order to prevent ourselves from becoming the targets of bullies.
There is no right or wrong way to handle a bully. Each situation is unique of its own.
With children, we can mentor them and guide them to become better adults. As for us adults, the chance of changing our ways or acknowledging this ill behavior is slim. Adult bullies are full of entitlement and excuses. Imagine standing up to entire defensive line of football players and telling them they can’t have the ball back.
It’s not a pretty picture is it?
So give the ball back. Bullies, of all ages, get a high from the empowerment they feel they hold over us. If you give them the ball and take away the power, they can no longer cause you distress.
Is there someone in your life that causes you distress? That bullies you or intimidates you?
You don’t need to write any names, just simply write “yes” in the comments and know you are not alone.