My son Jonathan is now 10, which is roughly the same age when I first experienced what a bully was. I had a bully when I was 10 who for all I know may be roaming about Miami somewhere today called Rolan Maimo. He might be a swell guy today but back in 1980 I absolutely despised him. The weird thing about Maimo (everyone called him by his last name) was that the guy had this Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde complex with me whereby one moment he picked on me and the next he treated me like I was his best friend. Out of fear he would embarass me in front of other 10 year old girls, I mostly wanted Maimo to think I was his friend so I didn’t do anything about it for two years.
Maimo continued as my perverse bully/friend until ONE DAY in seventh grade. I don’t remember all the details but suffice to say that one day he tried to push me around like he usually did in front of our classmates and on that day I decided to fight back. If you’ve seen the classic 80’s movie “A Christmas Story,” there’s a scene where the main kid with the glasses jumps on his bully in the snow and beats him to a pulp. Yep, that guy was me. I knocked the crap out of Maimo, and, well, you guessed it, the bullying was over. We never spoke again.
Bullying is a whole different matter today. For my son – and yours for that matter – things are more difficult and more simple at the same time. Killings and other acts of revenge against bullies have forced schools to take the issue seriously.
In a strange way, the unfortunate attention bullying has received is good news. Back when I was a kid, for example, my teachers and bus driver knew Maimo picked on me but they let it go. They figured we needed to fight it out and many times they stood afar as actual fights took place between kids.
A couple months ago my son complained to me about a kid that was starting to bully him at school. Jonathan wasn’t sure if I was going to tell him to fight him so instead I gave him the Beat Your Bully Trick that wouldn’t have worked back in the days when I was his same age. Given the context I just mentioned about bulllying and school violence, the trick is quite easy.
The Beat Your Bully Trick consists of no violence at all. On the contrary, it is about teaching your child to their their teacher or even school principal IMMEDIATELY of anybody who picks on them. I tell my son that if the school officials don’t fix the problem immediately, he is to let me know and I will come to the school. I know school officials well enough to tell you that they don’t want to be embarrassed and they don’t want to be seen as giving room for someone to do something dangerous on their premises. The only case in which Jonathan is instructed to fight is if his life or limbs depend on it, in which case he should fight vigorously but otherwise it’s generally wiser to go “new school” on bullies and report them to school authorities.
How do you tell your kids to handle bullies?