My daughter Madeleine starts 4th grade in less than a week. Among all the things this does to me, it reminds me of certain things she said last year, in 3rd grade, regarding bullies.
There were several instances, you see, where some little girl or boy would be rude to her or to her friends. They’d say rude things (though no swearing - not yet!), they’d cut in line, they’d take the last of something and dare somebody to say something. Yeah - little snotty shitlickers exist even in 3rd grade, even now. TV ads, morality tales, movies where kindness is rewarded - years of these attempts at indoctrinating children to be gentle, generous, thoughtful, and altruistic have still ultimately failed on a portion of our population. I blame the parents, who were probably snotty little shitlickers when THEY were in 3rd grade.
The thing that got me was that Madeleine called them BULLIES.
I’m gonna have to disagree with her there, and someday, when she’s older and she’s allowed to read this, I’ll tell her about MY childhood bullies. I’ll regale her with stories of violence and cruelty that will make her understand that those snotty brats who cut in line are nothing. Hell, I’ve recently been called a bully a couple of times, both times by people who didn’t like certain aggressive moves I made playing games, or didn’t like the aggressive language I sometimes use to make my often valid points.
The main difference, I think, between my bullies and hers (and me) is motive. I have a distinct and understandable motive for what I do and what I say. Those kids at her school have motives that, while selfish, are also understandable.
My bullies were nothing short of mean. Period. They had a psychosis that made them do things no reasonable person would do, and they were unpredictable, cruel, and predatory. They looked for kids to beat the shit out of - and any kid would do, not just the nerdy ones. I saw one slap his grandmother when she asked him to sit down. One got suspended several times a month for randomly wailing on some kid in P.E., even kids who’d give him as good of a beating as he gave.
These bullies were young; if they were teenagers, they were barely so. And this was the age before guns became a genuine factor. I can’t imagine the mayhem they would have caused if these fuckers had access to handguns.
At the time of this writing, all of MY bullies - with one notable exception that I’d talk to you about privately should you ask - are either dead or in jail. That’s how fucked up they were.
And one prayer that I send up nightly is that Madeleine only ever knows HER version of a bully, and that she never meets anyone like the ones I knew.