Thursday, March 22, 2012

School memories Bullies and freedom

When you think of childhood, you want to remember days of playing in the grass, swimming, climbing tress and paying with friends. I remember playing in the street until  10 11 at night during the summer. But my childhood was marred by the worst interruption a person can have. that is being assaulted by bullies.
When I was a child, it wasn't that big of a thing. Your parents told you to suck it up, you tried. the bullying continued until the bully moved on to his next prey.
I could take it.  Well, I could until I was in six grade.

In six grade There was a Chinese girl call Ann Cho pronounced "choo". She came in mid year.  Ann was tiny, skinny and barely spoke English, I don't remember why she was here, perhaps her father or mother taught at Stanford. The majority of the kids in my school had parents who were either professors, or big wigs at Hewlett-Packard the two industries of our town.

My Bully, declared me boring at this point, ,. shook the dust off his feet  and turned on Ann. I pretty much took a backseat, a quick sigh of relief and prayed he would never turn on me again.  I prepared to go on with my life bully free.
And that may well have happened.  But, when you have been the target of a bully, you understand the whole picture. I had spent 4,5 and most of 6th grade being his target. I knew the damage he could do. the hurt and humiliation he could produce, worse then that..the tremendous feeling of helplessness.

My favorite game in sixth grade was tether-ball. I could knock that ball around the pole with one swat of my fists. The force no doubt came from pent up anger, at least that is what you will say these days. But then, I just knew I could hit the ball and felt a lot better after I did it. I played all recess by myself.

The row of tether ball   poles lined the end of the playground and was the last line of defense before the grassy area where such games as stick ball, football and other games that got me laughed and snicked at because I was so clumsy. I viewed that area as enemy terrority.

This day though,  a few feet away I heard The ugly voice of my former bully and felt pangs of memories from my days at his hands.  This was different. I heard " ANNN choo"..making the sound of sneezing..."How does it feel to be a sneeze"  "Ahhh Cho choo choo  Train, that's it she is a train whistle, no she is full of snot because she is a sneeze."....the other kids laughed...."chink ching"

Why do the other kids laugh at his behavior? Simply because they hope or are secretly happy it is not them?

But over the laughing, over the cruel words I heard whimpering, the the distinct sound of quiet crying. For the first time I noticed Ann, Unlike me, who stood and took the words my mind elsewhere in a safe place;
she was sitting on the ground, her arms wrapped tightly around her legs, pulling her knees close to her chest. Tears  silently coarseing  down her checks. Something came over me, to this day I do not know what; No was was more terrified of this bully then me. Her little body racked with sobs. I remember she was wearing a white dress and short white jackets, and had them pulled tightly to her in hopes of protection. She was at the point where she had long give up looking around the circle for a friend. By now, she knew the weren't any.

Before I talked myself out of it, I  drew both hands into a fist and double hit the ball sending it sailing towards the sky with the force of my hit it looked like it was headed for the sun. I  took a deep breath, sailed over to my bully drew back and decked him.
Yep. Right in the nose. Then  told him in no uncertain terms to stop picking on Ann or he could expect more.
Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the sassy twins (the popular girls) Sheila and Sharon take off towards the teacher, and the rest of the class stood their silently as I helped Ann up, and she looked at me in pure wonder. So was everyone else eyeing me in the same manner. No one stood up to Bruce before, well you just didn't.
Bruce's nose wasn't broken, but his pride was. I got suspended from school because it is OK to bully with words, but not with your hands. I guess in those days no one understood mental anguish.

It's funny that after that day I don't remember much about Ann, or what went on with her in class. I continued to be a loner, just like today and my life went on as normal. Well almost. Every time I saw my bully, he was now Bruce not Bully and  he was actually nice to me.
I wish I could say I cured him of his bullying, but I didn't. He continued on with other kids; just not in front of me. I lived in a Bully free zone. Wekk until 8th grade. but that is another story.


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