Now before you think I’m a raging lunatic, of course, I am not for kids being picked on.
But let me tell you a little story from when I was in 1st grade waiting for the yellow bus to take a bunch of us kids to school. Back then our elementary schools went from K through 6, so some of the boys were much bigger than their younger counterparts.
The year was 1968 in Menlo Park, California. We lived on the edge of the school district boundaries, in a neighborhood away from the affluent areas of Atherton, a community of impressive mansion-like homes we grew up knowing.
In the morning, I would walk two blocks to get to the bus stop. It was in front of someone’s house, where you could observe the gathering of children, on the sidewalk and front yard. The kids formed together into their little tribes in a nebulous array near that imaginary line which would take us into the yet un-arrived bus.
As a chinese kid of the era, I was in a minority of the minority, I’m sure I received my share of insensitive jokes about being a smaller “slant-eyed kid.” Sure, feeling were hurt, but, thankfully, none of that junk stuck with me for long. Being picked on by my older brother was far worse.
I was a pretty quiet child overall, I tended to gravitate towards other children who seemed left out of groups and I was blessed to have many friends. In general, I didn’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder, so I think that kept me open to being friends with many of the kids in my class.
Back to the bus stop. There was one young boy, maybe in Kindergarten or 1st grade, but he was small in stature and more significantly, he was the son of a local “hippie biker” family. Biker, I mean a family of chopped Harleys, long hair, black studded leather jacket, switch blade combs, and long chrome keychains. I remember he was a long blonde-haired kid, quiet and standing alone, minding his own business.
A few of the bigger mean kids were going around picking on anybody who was a little weird to them or different were hassling the biker kid. He didn’t fight back or anything, he just stood there and took being pushed around and harassed. He didn’t say anything or fight back and finally the bigger kids walk away to amuse themselves with some other whim or fancy.
I looked at the biker kid for a moment and I could tell he was emotionally hurt by the bullying, you can grow a sensitivity toward those things as a kid, but he didn’t say anything. I’m sure there was something inside of me thinking, I’m glad they’re not picking on me, but also glad things didn’t get worse. It was bad enough.
I wanted to walk over to stand by him… so I did. I did because I knew he could use a friend when no one else would. Better late than never, to stand by him.
I, the six year old boy, asked him, “Are you okay?”
He answered, “Yeh.”
I stood with him until the bus arrived and we got onboard. I guess I was being a like a child ambassador of the human race.
The point I want to make is when someone gets bullied, it gives someone else a chance to do something good for someone else. It takes discovering a certain amount of courage or empathy to stand up to help or give support to someone who is being singled out to be joked at. I’ve been on the other side of this also, and I’ll always remember the kids who stood up to protect me.
In today’s politically correct communities where bullying rarely exists in the classic form, where the obvious bullying is harder to come by (though it still exists), the average kid has less opportunities to stand up for others in the face of social prejudice and discrimination, and perhaps, not learning small but important lessons about themselves.
If you see yourself in the picture, I’d enjoy hearing from you, even if you were in another classroom of the world.
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I’ll see you… on the next page