Friday, July 22, 2011

To the Bully in Middle School

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It’s been a few years since we were in middle school together.

I thought you should know that I still remember the way that you made fun of me in the lunch line. The way that my spine curved because of a condition I had when I was still a kid, and how you got all of the other students to laugh at me, too, as you mockingly jeered about it.

To you, it was no big deal.

I remember the time you let all of your friends cut in front of me in the lunch line.

Every. single. time you did it.

I still remember all the laughing—probably nothing to you—poking fun at my expense.

You were a jerk.

I say that now, years later.

A score of years separate that time between my twelve year-old self, and the self that exists in the here and now.

Today I’d have told you to knock it off. I’d have had the nerve to stand up to you and tell you that it wasn’t cool.

I’d tell you that being mean to others isn’t anything to be proud of.

I’d show you what being cool was really all about.

Did you know that I grew up and became a teacher?

I still see you from time to time…in the faces of some of my students.

I do everything I can to help them to realize that being a bully just isn’t cool.

I realize that many of them have been hurt, too.

Sometimes, I rail on them for being mean to somebody else.

Then I put my arm around them, and I remind them that Mr. Z is on their side, too.

I let them know that I care about them…even when they do wrong.

I wanted to thank you.

You gave me a heart.

It was partially due to you that I learned what it felt like to be shunned, to be ridiculed, and to be the butt of jokes.

You want to know what you did to me?

You made me stronger.

No, not at the time. At the time, you destroyed me. Words can’t express how much it hurt all those years ago, nor can they convey just how much it helped build me and make me who I am today.

Did I mention that I’m a teacher?

I see you all the time.

Sometimes in the faces of my students.

I do everything in my power to help them not to become like you were.

For that, I thank you.

And I’m no longer angry.

29 comments:

Jordy Boy said...

Mr. Z,
Bullies are people who can't control themselves therefore they try to control others. Good for you for being stronger because of it and for letting go of the anger. There is someone in my family who has been bullied for years. She has risen above it and has become a confident, strong, woman.

Because of your experiences you are an excellent teacher. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I thank him for making YOU the bigger, better person..
Karma always wins out, right?

Connie said...

That last post was from me. My son had signed on to my computer.

Joan said...

I see him too, in my students. I see the girls, hear them too. They can be so mean. But now, from where I sit, I can see both sides. I can see how badly the bully hurts. I wish the victims could see that too. I'm not sure it would matter.

Carolyn said...

You rock. As a person AND as a teacher. Just so ya know.

SHELLS BELLS! said...

This is a great post!

Mrs. Organic said...

I love the perspective you have. And that you've used it to help break the pattern of bullying. Bravo!

Cheeseboy said...

Your bully post was so much more eloquent than mine. Perhaps we should get our Junior High bullies together and show them just how cool we are now? On second thought...

Pedaling said...

middle school is a feasting ground for bullies. I hate it. Every one of my girls had a crappy middle school experience. Some more than others. Bullies and mean girls are the worst!

Laura said...

I'm not Catholic, but I'm entirely convinced that middle school is early purgatory. I have to commend you though, no matter how long it takes, it is a big person who can use situations like that in a positive way. It can be too easy for someone to let experiences like that harden and distance them from trusting.

Heidi (lilmommyfoofoo) said...

Love it.

Beautifully written, friend.

Stef said...

Oh boy. My son is a tender heart and I worry that he may be the victim of those jerks. He is headed to middle school and I pray everyday that he will have good friends who will help build him up.
Sigh....
But if he can turn out like you, then jr. high is but a moment. Ugh!

Oilfield Trash said...

Letting go of the anger is a good thing.

Mr. Hughes said...

Excellent writing. I think we can ALL related to this one! Thanks for sharing with me! :)

gb5 said...

I really appreciate you posting this. I wish every kid could have a teacher like you...

Rachel said...

To be free. To no longer be ensnared in the net. To no longer be angry. To forgive....

Beautiful.

Nancy said...

What a great post. So insightful!

Richard & Natalie said...

It seems trite to say this is beautiful because really it is so much more than that. I simply can't find the words in my limited vocabulary to express the heartfelt power I felt from your words. Thank you for sharing.

M-Cat said...

What a great post! There are times when I would LOVE to see that one kid from elementary school that made me cry every single day. I think of how I would mock his life now. And show off mine.

But then I think how much it would suck if he actually turned out successful.

I'm glad for teachers like you who see it in kids faces and step in. Didn't have that back in the day, but then maybe I wouldn't be who I am if someone had rescued me.

Great thoughts today

tammy said...

I really hate middle school. And bullies. I'm glad you're in a position to help.

Gerb said...

I understand this all too well. Bullies are one thing I hate with a passion. But I'm glad you have been able to find the good in your experiences - it does make us stronger, more empathetic - but, speaking for myself, I can still feel the emotion tied to the horrible experiences I had in my younger years. It is hard to distance myself from those painful memories when I'm looking for the good that came from them as well. But you're right - I am also who I am because of what I experienced, felt and learned from the bullies in my life.

Linn said...

Love this so much--thanks for sharing.

As a mother of five, bullying is on my mind a lot and I watch it extremely carefully. The sad part, the person doing the bullying is usually the one that struggles so much with themselves. But when you are the one on the other end of it, it doesn't seem like that. It just hurts like crazy.

Fabulous post, TF.

Rachel said...

Geez.

Straight back to my last day of public school when my mother watched someone bully her undersized deaf daughter for the last time.

And as awful and ugly as that was for me, I understand that it hurts a parent just as badly.

And you know... I haven't gotten over the hurt. Facebook kills me. I wish I had stood up too.

Lindzena said...

Wow, this post gave me chills. It is fantastic how much we grow, looking back at who we once were. It is interesting hearing it from the perspective of a teacher, who sees it now in the next generation. I hope we can all grow from those tough experiences.

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

That which does not kill us . . .

allison nadauld said...

This explains a lot. You have been a wonderful influence to so many students, no doubt from experiences like these. Thanks for sharing!

Suzanne@Meridian Road said...

I saw your guest post on Yanet's blog and had to come check out yours. I'm glad I did!
This is a phenomenal post! I'm so glad you're a teacher! I'm so glad you are in a position make a difference for all the kids out there that are bullied and who are bullies. And I'm glad you're no longer angry. I realized when I read that last line that it's something I need to work on.

Karen Peterson said...

We never do forget those kids that tormented us so long ago.

Like you, I'm glad to say that I'm no longer angry.

But I'll never forget.

Valerie said...

So insightful. Helped me realize I don't have to shield my daughters from everything, just trust that these experiences will make them stronger.

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