“I want to leave behind me the name of a fellow who never bullied a little boy, or turned his back on a big one.” ~Thomas Hughes


Yesterday I was faced with a really difficult dilemma.  As you all know by now, my kids love giving me a hard time and occasionally have those tween/teen attitudes, but for the most part, I have great children.  They’re respectful (to everyone except me), smart, driven, motivated, talented, and very well-rounded.

Starting just this year, things have gotten a little tough with the seventh grader/teenager, as these little aliens, also known as hormones, have taken over his life, causing him to because more lazy and not so on top of his homework and things like that.

No, he’s not a delinquent, and he isn’t flunking out of middle school.  I’ve just had to ride him a little bit harder than I always have.  Let me also mention that he’s never done drugs, never had a “serious” girlfriend (well, as serious as they get in middle school), hasn’t had sex, has never been in a fight, and have never been to juvie.

With all that being said, yesterday something happened that I never imagined I would have to deal with from any of my kids.

Gerald was on the playground for recess, playing gaga ball (I have no idea, so don’t ask, but it’s the latest rage in recess games) with his friends.  One of the not-so-nice kids at his school started picking on and bullying Gerald’s best friend.  Gerald told him to leave his friend alone.

They proceeded to play the game again, and the bully kid got out.  He refused to leave the gaga ball pit and wait for the next round, as one is supposed to do when he “gets out” in the game.  Gerald said to him, “Dude, if you’re not going to play right, then why don’t you just leave and not play at all?”

Well…. that’s when it happened.  The kid got in Gerald’s face and pushed him.  Gerald says that he continued to grab his shirt after he pushed him and didn’t just push him and let him go.  So he says he pushed him back to get the kid off of him.  Of course when Gerald pushed him back, things escalated, and the kid tried to all-out fight him.  A tussle ensued, and to make a long story short, both kids got suspended.

Needless to say, I get a call from one of the school administrators yesterday to tell me what happened, and as you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy about it.  The administrator assured me that Gerald is a good kid and that it’s just school policy to suspend students who get in physical altercations.  He told me that usually when a kid gets in trouble, he almost always recognizes the kid’s name immediately.  He said this wasn’t the case with Gerald, and that he had to look him up in the computer to even figure out who “Gerald” was.  He said he’s a good student and has never been in trouble before and explained that this would not be on his permanent record or carry over to next school year.  He also explained that the suspension itself wasn’t really a big deal since the students are done working for the year and are just watching movies these last three days.

Not a big deal, huh?  Well, it kind of is to me.  My kids know better than to fight at all, much less in school.

So this is where I’m torn…

Gerald swears up and down that this kid is one of the school’s bullies and that he was being really mean to his best friend.  When I asked why his friend couldn’t stand up for himself, he asked me the best (yet hardest) question ever:

“If someone isn’t strong enough or comfortable to stand up for himself, shouldn’t I do it for him?  You always told me to stand up to bullies.”

Source: CoolNsmart.com

Source: CoolNsmart.com

“If you see someone being bullied, make it stop.

Why is that so hard for us to do?” 

~Susane Colasanti

What could I say to that, really?  I hate to say it, but he kind of had a good point.  While I’m so angry at him for getting into a fight and getting suspended, I’m also kind of proud of him.  He’s usually such a follower (his little brother is the leader amongst his friends), but this time he didn’t care what anyone else thought of him.  He saw someone being bullied, and he stood up to him.

It’s in times and situations like these where you realize that parenting is the hardest job ever.  And where you constantly question whether you’re failing as a parent or doing a pretty decent job.  Unfortunately, the true answer to that test probably won’t be clear until our children are adults themselves.  But in the meantime, I’ll keep doing the best I can and keep praying for my little boys who grow up more and more every day.

 “Bullying is not okay. Period.”

~Jim C. Hines

Source: Bethel Clinic

Source: Bethel Clinic

Resources to Help Stop Bulling:

stopbullying.gov

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

the ellen degeneres show

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32 responses to ““I want to leave behind me the name of a fellow who never bullied a little boy, or turned his back on a big one.” ~Thomas Hughes

  • donofalltrades

    So the worst part of this post is that the school administrator didn’t know who your son was and had to look him up in a computer. Get off your ass and go meet the students and you can be more informed instead of just suspending everyone all willy nilly!

    • aliciabenton

      I agree. And I don’t think it’s fair for a kid who has never been in trouble to get the same punishment as one who has. But I didn’t want to argue that too much, since the fact of the matter was that he DID get in a fight. Tough situation…

      At least this guy wasn’t like the principal or anything. He deals mainly with the discipline issues.

      • donofalltrades

        When I was in junior high (that was 7th and 8th grade only then) we would schedule fights at McDonald’s in town on Friday afternoon. Two kids would get mad, everyone would pick sides and we all got McDonald’s. Sometimes there were actual fights, but mostly we lost interest in it or forgot why were were fighting. I for one am terrible at holding a grudge, so if I don’t tell a person I fucking hate them right away, I lose interest in it. Tell your son nice job, but there are places where fighting is a no no. Also be sure he knows that the retaliator ALWAYS gets caught.

      • aliciabenton

        Dang – He didn’t even get McDonald’s out of all this!

        And I’ll tell him to start fighting AFTER school so he doesn’t get in trouble for fighting IN school. 😛

        It’s true about the retaliator always getting caught. He should know that by now just because of his fights with his brother!!

        I can’t see you ever getting mad enough to fight someone. 😉

      • donofalltrades

        I’ve never been in a fight outside of my job as a cop, and those were never my choice. For as mouthy as I am, that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

      • aliciabenton

        I’m the same way, though. I think because I say what’s on my mind and just get it out in the open, it prevents the grudges and stuff the eventually causes fights. I just say it and it’s behind me and over.

  • AHMommy

    I would be proud of him too. I do understand the need for school policy and all that, so although I don’t like it I “get” the suspension. I would probably tell him how proud I am and then try to brainstorm together other ways to handle the situation. In a perfect world kids wouldn’t have to fight to stand up to bullies, but this is not a perfect world.

    • aliciabenton

      Very well said.

      Sadly, our world isn’t even close to what it was when I was growing up, and I’m not even THAT old yet! Even then it was far from perfect, but I don’t recall bullying and fighting like this.

      Thank you for your suggestion on discussing other ways the situation could have been handled. We will do that this afternoon. 🙂

  • bensbitterblog

    I was such a wimp in school that I never got in a fight. Though one time in college, I was walking home to my dorm after a nice visit with one of my friends who was a girl and some idiots were screaming out their windows at me. So of course I waved hi with one of my fingers and as I was walking up the steps the three of them attacked me from behind and knocked me out. So I got 15 of my closest friends and went after them to the police station. They got caught and I just needed to identify the one who punched me, but I couldn’t because the only thing I saw was the ground. Anyways, bunch of bullies. I hope they at least crapped their pants after getting caught by the cops.

  • Amber Perea

    I got in lots of fights as a kid. My mom always had my back. She told me that fighting was wrong -but that standing up for yourself was important. It was something that I grew out of but I always loved that she backed me up. It was one of the few thing that she did on.

    Getting in trouble isn’t good but if he’s a good kid that was standing up for someone else, I’d be proud of him, too. I hope that if Jp is ever in that position…he’d have a friend like your son.

    • aliciabenton

      Geez, you made me tear up!

      It’s good to know that this is not necessarily something that he’ll always do.

      I need to just make sure he knows the difference between genuinely standing up for himself/someone else and picking a fight just because you know you can.

      • Amber Perea

        While fighting isn’t good…I’ve never been anyone that afraid to stand up for myself as an adult. Learning to stand up for people that are weaker is a bad a quality. That school is just doing what it’s supposed to…but I think he’s kind of a hero. 🙂

  • xdanigirl

    I’m very glad that the administrator didn’t recognize his name. That is a very, very good thing. (It kept me from getting suspended my senior year for sitting in the library instead of going to an extremely hard music theory class.) That means the Gerald is a very good student. The administrator could have met him, but because he’s only met him once or twice he doesn’t recognize the name. Trust me, that’s how it worked with me.

    As for the whole bully thing, my advice would be to talk to the teachers and his friends. Ask them if the kid is a bully. The teachers may not know if the kid is a bully (I mean let’s face it, they may not always pay attention to that stuff) but his friends will know.

    I agree with you and Don that it was uncalled for for Gerald to get suspended, too, even though he didn’t start it. Unfortunately, today, everyone gets suspended who is involved in a fight. And sometimes on-lookers do as well. A friend of mine got his ass kicked and didn’t defend himself because he was more afraid of losing his truck than this kid that was beating his face in. He still got suspended after getting punched in the face three pretty good times and getting a broken nose and not fighting back or even saying anything remotely mean or rude to the kid. (This was also after my dad witnessed the whole thing and told the officer and principal what happened.)

    I’m proud of your son for standing up in the face of a bully. But, I understand your dilemma. I hope that it all works out.

    • aliciabenton

      You’re right about the other students knowing who the bullies are, even when the teachers don’t. In fact, one of the first things Gerald told me was to ask everyone who was out there what happened and how much of a jerk this kid always is.

      Yep – you’re right. Everyone now gets automatically suspended. I’m okay with that as long as the punishment is equal across the board. He deserved to be punished even if it was a case of bullying, if for no other reason than to deter him from just fighting for no reason. And so he knows that there may be alternative ways to dealing with bullies.

      It’s crazy about your friend. It’s sad that he actually thought through the potential consequences of fighting and chose not to do it based on those consequences and then had to face them anyway. That really sucks. It almost makes you wonder why even both with thinking things through before acting.

      Thank you for your sweet words 🙂

  • Michelle

    I say your son is a great kid–even after he got into this fight. For us to send the message that we should always repress our natural instinct toward protection and aggression is ridiculous. I’d be proud, like you said you were and move on. But wow, what a hard situation to navigate for sure!!!

  • fakingpictureperfect

    It sounds like you are doing a good job raising your boys! He did the right thing. I guess he could have walked away while being grabbed and punched, but really….who has the will power to do that!? And, i recently learned too that they DO keep a record on all the kids…even starting in elementary school. My daughter, who is a little too timid for my liking, would never dream of being a bully. But, some kid convinced her that he was going to tattle on her for something she didn’t do. She came home in tears. When I brought it up to the teacher, she said something similar like we almost always know who is telling the truth in situations like that because we keep track of who has gotten in trouble before.

    • aliciabenton

      I’ll definitely keep checking on that then. Thank you for letting me know. Especially if this is a one-time thing, I don’t want this haunting his when he gets ready to apply to colleges, etc.

      I hate tattle-tales who lie. :/

      • fakingpictureperfect

        Well, I think it is more of an internal thing for the school administrators to keep track of things…I didn’t mean it’s like a “record” that will follow him. At least, that’s not how I understood it, but who knows!

      • aliciabenton

        In that case, I hope they’ll always only have that! Hopefully he’ll only be known for good things!

      • AHMommy

        Oh, yeah. Teachers definitely know who is likely to start the trouble and who is not. So when there is trouble, even if both parties get a punishment for it, the teacher keeps in mind where the blame likely falls. They have to be fair to all, but kids that don’t go out of their way to start trouble usually earn a respect and trust from teachers.

        I remember one time in school a troublemaker lied to a teacher about me doing something that I didn’t do. The teacher kind of laughed as he looked at me and said, “Sure, I’d believe she did that just like I would believe you have straight A’s.” It was slightly embarrassing but I realized that I had a pretty good reputation there and I wanted to keep it that way.

      • aliciabenton

        That’s awesome!! Your response should have been: BOOM!!!

        And hopefully my kid will never get the “delinquent” label…

  • The Jogging Dad

    That is one helluva kid you got that. That attitude of protecting one who cannot do it himself, you can’t even teach that shit, no matter how good a parent you are!

  • queenlorene

    The kids know what the school protocols are for bullying and the like. Either the kids aren’t following them or the school is ignoring it. In my school district bullying has a zero tolerance policy. They have a bullying curriculum from K-8. They created positions that the kids get voted in to be a “go to” person if a bullying episode occurs. The efforts to stop bullying have really paid off for my district.

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