Bullies

Published on July 30th, 2015 | by Richard Black

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I Hate Boys – Push (Part II of III)

UF_Monkeybars_wiki_173015When I was in third grade Tommy Roscoe shoved me off the top of the monkey bars. The fall wasn’t more than six feet but it ended on a big piece of blacktop because playgrounds in the 1980s were created to weed out the weak children instead of providing them with any real measure of enjoyment.

I don’t remember provoking Tommy but memory is pretty fluid concept when it comes to kids and me in particular. I remember gasping for air as the wind was knocked out of me. Tommy was sitting on top of the monkey bars. He hawked up a giant glob of snot and pursed his mouth as gravity took its course and the wad of phlegm and spit slowly slid past his lips and inevitably onto my forehead.

I think about this incident more often than a healthy adult should in part because I’m a bit obsessive and in part because Tommy choked the hell out of me on the bus later that day. My younger sister came to the rescue by slamming her metal lunchbox against Tommy’s head a few times. Tommy lost his grip and afforded me with the opportunity to bite the living shit out of his hand. We haven’t kept in touch but there’s a small part of me that takes an immeasurable amount of pleasure in the thought that somewhere out there is a man with a scar in the exact same shape of my teeth when I was in third grade.

Getting choked wasn’t fun but it was the experience on the monkey bars, getting shoved off for no apparent reason, that disturbed me most. Getting spit on didn’t help either but it was the random nature of the act, the complete and utter meanness of it that I couldn’t wrap my head around. In some ways I still can’t. Kids will be kids and some of them are just assholes.

Despite three decades of distance from the incident I still don’t handle aggression well. I have a particularly difficult time keeping my head when my daughter is involved.

UF_Fountain_073015

Do you know why this kid is happy? Because there aren’t any boys near her.

Many years later in a galaxy far far away I was with Darcy at a local park. She was playing in a fountain with a few other boys amongst some bronze ferrets or beavers or some other kind of large rodent spouting water. The boy’s mothers were gabbing in the shade a few feet away from where I’d camped out and all was well and good with the world. And then one of them shoved my daughter off the beaver. That’s not a weird euphemism by the way. This little shit pushed my daughter and I almost went ballistic.

But I didn’t. I managed to keep my cool. Darcy was still in diapers which I’d never fully appreciated until that particular moment. It turns out that when worn around or in water a diaper swell to something like 18 times its original size which provided a nice cushion when my daughter landed directly on her butt. She gave me a look to reaffirm that all was right and I smiled and nodded and she went on about her business.

The two women on the bench continued talking about whatever it is that young mother’s who ignore their children in public talk about (It’s waxing right?). Darcy splashed in the water and then crawled back on top of the beaver which I still feel compelled to note is not some sort of bizarre sexual euphemism.

And then I saw the kid do it again. The little shit pushed Darcy and I went straight to DEFCON 1.

The kid’s mother, whomever it was, was still obliviously chatting the other up about how much she wanted a glass of wine at eleven in the morning, how awesome the Paleo diet was, which brand of tampons she used or Russia’s military escalation in the Crimea. I couldn’t say and, I can’t put too fine a point on this, I didn’t care.

A more mature man, perhaps a brighter man, would have handed the situation in a much calmer and rational fashion but that man wasn’t present at the park that morning. Instead there was just me.

The second Darcy hit the ground and I ascertained that she was, more or less, all right I…engaged the two women and the following conversation may or may not have taken place.

UF_FaceOnMars_073015“Hi,” I said congenially as I walked up to both women, “I don’t know which one of you belongs to that boy,” I motioned over to the child who had shoved my daughter twice,” but your son has just pushed my daughter twice.”

The  two women looked at me like I was an alien who had just landed on the planet and asked for the best place to eat a fried scrotum.

“I’m a good mother,” one of them said indignantly.

“There won’t be a third time,” I continued ignoring her, “If there is then I’m going to smack you and then I’m going to smack your kid.”

The two women gathered their children and left quite abruptly at which point I realized two things. The first was that I could have handled the situation much better. The second was that I should probably leave the premises as quickly as possible.

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