A long time ago, back when I had a toddler and an infant, I was at the park with the two of them. Park play was a lot more difficult back then because I had to be right beside them in pretty much everything they did. Well, perhaps I didn’t but I was kind of a hover-mom back in the day.
Anyways there I am at the park with my almost four year old and my almost two year old. I am pushing Sophie on the baby swings when I notice Lars trying to play with a kid a little older than him. Back then Lars wasn’t as reserved as he is now, so even though the kid clearly didn’t want anything to do with my four year old, Lars was persistent. Funny thing about kids, they don’t really have that insecurity thing going on. I was about to tell my son to give it a rest and come over to the swings with me and Soph when the kid up and pushed him to the ground and began to scream at him that he didn’t want to play. This invoked a white hot rage in myself that I was not actually aware of and for a split second I envisioned myself in a jail cell due to punting a seven year old to next Thursday.
The kid’s mom had witnessed this too and went over to discipline her child, rightly so. Thank God she had seen the spectacle because if I were to have to tell her that her child was the little shit weasel that pushed my son, I probably wouldn’t have been tight-tongued about the issue. No amount of censorship could have stopped the atrocity of words that would have exited my mouth. Admittedly I go sort of ballistic when somebody comes after my own.
After the park incident Lars was a lot more cautious around strange children, never again running up and worming his way into a game of tag. In a way it makes me sad, and I wonder if the bully at the park that day took away a little piece of Lars’ Larsness. Nevertheless it is something that every child will probably endure at some point in their adolescent life, the hard truth is, there are bullies around every corner.
My dad has taught me many things over the years but something that has always stuck is that family must stick up for one another. Maybe that is where the deep seated anger came in when I saw my son being bullied. Maybe it was simply a primal motherhood instinct that I experienced. It wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed a family member of mine being tormented and it wouldn’t be the last. Sadly children aren’t the only people who get picked on by their peers. And each time I see someone I love being hurt by another I can feel that familiar anger begin to bubble.
A girl I know who is much wiser than her years once told me that she feels sorry for the people we as society deem as bullies. Me, being the hot headed person that I am, disagreed with the statement as soon as it left her lips. How could she feel sorry for the browbeaters of this world?
Just hear me out, she said. These people who try to damage others by physical hurt or name calling are so unimaginably broken in their own lives that they must project that misery upon the other people, the happy people.
She was right. It is so obvious and I’m sure that deep down we all know why bullies walk among us and how they’ve been created. The truth is we don’t want to admit it because it is so much more satisfying to meet hatred with hatred. Understanding takes work.
One day in the future I or another human I love may feel the oppressive hand of bullying once more. I will want to retaliate. I will want to meet hatred with hatred. I will want to stoop down to that level of name calling and crudeness.
However then I will bring to mind the words of my friend. I will recall the happiness that is experienced everyday in my family. The absolute love we have for each other and the euphoric feeling of togetherness that we share.
In the end, once the initial anger has flit away, all there will be left to do is feel sorry for the unhappy people. And then maybe we can begin to spread joy and understanding to those who need it most.