Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Schooled Bully

This is a true story. Obviously, names have been changed. Details have been reconstructed and simplified somewhat, and some dramatic license has been taken in imagining inner dialogues. But it happened pretty much this way, as far as I can tell.

There are two boys. One we'll call Eric. The other, Kenny. Both are in 7th grade at a very good suburban middle school.

Eric has a good reputation. He's a straight-A student, active in extra-curricular activities and sports, and a popular kid. He's funny, cool, easy-going, enjoys playing the class clown and high-fiving people in the hallways. But he's just a little too busy, involved in just a few too many things. It doesn't help that he's a perfectionist. So... he has stress. Most of the time he keeps it deep down inside.

Kenny also has a reputation. He is well-known to the school administrators, but for all the wrong reasons. He undoubtedly has stress, too. But he lets it out in all the wrong ways. He is failing his classes, and proud of the fact. He enjoys vandalizing school property and picking on other kids. He is widely disliked by the other students.

Kenny decides that Eric is to be his new victim. He starts tripping Eric as they pass in the hallway each day. Eric doesn't report this to an adult - that would violate The Code. When you're 13, you're expected to solve your social problems yourself. Eric does his best to ignore Kenny. Day after day, he just picks himself up and goes on. Turns the other cheek. Restrains himself.

He's not giving Kenny much amusement.

So Kenny ups the ante. He posts obscene comments about Eric online, which Eric's friends forward to him. Eric doesn't tell an adult about this, either, despite having several caring adults in his circle who'd hear him out on any subject. When you're 13, certain subjects are on the uncomfortable teetering edge between really gross and quite interesting. The only thing you're really sure of is that you don't want to talk about them. And you sure as heck don't want some jerk you hate spouting off about you and... certain subjects.

Eric is on a slow simmer the next day. The very last person he wants anything to do with is Kenny. But there he is in the hallway, coming Eric's way. Eric grits his teeth and says nothing. And as they pass, Kenny trips Eric and saunters away, grinning.

Now, Kenny almost certainly did not know that Eric is a black belt in karate. A state champion, in fact, with a shelf-full of trophies.

Ignorance is not always bliss.

Eric's foot lands squarely between Kenny's shoulder blades and knocks him into the lockers. Kenny's a tough scrapper, though, and comes back swinging. The boys grapple as the crowd backs away. Kenny throws a haymaker punch at Eric's head and knocks him across the hall, slamming his head into a locker. But Eric takes control of his momentum as he bounces off the lockers and spins around, landing on his feet in a low crouch.

His head *hurts*, dammit, and now he's mad. Really mad.

All that stress he's been carrying is about to come out.

His landing out of the spin has wound Eric like a spring. He's poised to launch a flying roundhouse kick and plant his foot on Kenny's ear. Eric has broken boards with this kick, many times. He's knocked over the large, heavy punching bag at the dojo with this kick, many times.

Kenny weighs half of what that bag does. He's not going *into* the wall. He's going *through* the wall.

Eric is *not* thinking that he could do permanent, severe physical damage to another human being. He's not thinking of the possibility of his family being sued into permanent penury to pay for Kenny's lifetime nursing-home care. Eric's not thinking at all, really. He just knows that Kenny has been begging for a first-class ass-kicking for a very long time, and the time has come to deliver it.

Kenny *is* thinking, though - about just how wrong his earlier thinking had been. He had thought that Eric was just a short, skinny kid that he could push around. And when Eric fought back, Kenny had thought that he could stop him with his best shot. Head punch, right across the hall, face-first into the lockers. Eric *should* have crumpled to the ground. Instead, he *bounced off the wall* and came up locked and loaded.

With eyes full of flame. Kenny looks at Eric and sees his doom. A low murmur ripples through the crowd.

In that instant, a third boy jumps between the two and stops the action - a very brave move, all things considered.

After a long moment, Eric picks up his backpack and glares at the white-faced Kenny as he shoves past. Later, goes to the nurse to get an icepack, and the administration finds out about the altercation. Eric will serve a Saturday detention. Kenny is a repeat offender and will face harsher penalties.

Later that day, Kenny comes up to Eric and offers friendship. Eric's not interested, but he knows that Kenny won't be bothering him again.


MountainLaurel said...

I'm glad it turned out well in the end. It never stopped for me till they found that the bully and I had mutual friends (funny story, that), or (more usual) that they found another victim.

One bully became my cousin's sister-in-law. Gotta love small towns! :-)

Dawn Mular said...

SkyDaddy, the "social style" that I experience is starting to form a similar fantasy for my "Eric". Thank you for being you... and inspiring others to be their best. There are two sides to every school age drama aren't there? Heres to creating resilient kids that bring their best selves to life. :D