Archive for category: What the hell is wrong with people?
This afternoon, I went to pick up my son from school. I had my 5-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew in tow. We hung out in front of the library, waiting for my son to emerge from his school across the street.
Once he had, we started walking down the sidewalk, surrounded by tweens hyped up with after-school, almost-spring-nice-day giddiness. But there was this weird moment. A gaggle of boys had slipped off the sidewalk onto the grass, all facing opposite of the direction I was headed. They were waiting for something, excited. It seems now, trying to put it all back together (so much happens in just a second!) that I heard/acknowledged the words “he’s gonna punch him” at the very same moment that I turned to see what they were looking at. Looking for.
I was holding a tiny hand in each of my own, when I turned my head around and saw that the crowd on the sidewalk had parted, and a boy stood, alone, his arms spread out to his sides, his mouth in a perfect O.
Then it became clear that blood was flowing. I handed the little ones off to my son and parked them to the side of the sidewalk and in an instant was at the boy’s side. By then, he’d made his way to the entrance of the library and had fallen to his knees, blood flowing, literally just flowing, from his nose.
I directed a kid to run inside the library for paper towels. A man walked by me and said “Does he need a doctor?” I replied, phone in hand, that I was going to call the bleeding boy’s mother.
Next thing I know, the kid on the paper-towel errand was emerging from the doors, no towels, but with the news that someone had called 9-1-1.
Really? 9-1-1? For a punch in the face and a bloody nose? Well, that’s neither here nor there. I guess.
By then, I was dialing the bleeding boy’s home phone and leaving a message. Then getting his mother’s cell phone number from him and dialing that. She was just down the block, waiting for him in her car.
Kids were swarming all over us. I yelled at the swarmers to keep moving. I rubbed the kid’s back and told him his mom was on her way. His nose was enormous and I kinda felt instinctively that pinching it would really fucking hurt him, so I didn’t do much but watch the blood flow, say stupid “comforting” stuff and rub his back. He probably wanted to kill me. But within a minute, a librarian came out with a box of kleenex, and someone else handed me a roll of paper towels, and I could hear the sirens coming from the Fire and Police Departments, just down the street.
And this poor kid was just hollering. “I’m okay! I’m okay!”
His mother came running down the sidewalk. I relinquished my spot. I vaguely remember asking the kid who had punched him, but once his mother and the police arrived (3 officers–really? necessary? no.), I slipped back, waved more kids along. Then walked down towards my son and niece and nephew.
I don’t know what happened, beyond a kid got punched in the face right after school. I don’t know if this was a bullying situation that moved to physical violence. I don’t know if this was the result of two kids who didn’t get along. I just don’t know.
I heard the gossipy talk on the way down the block towards my car. The kid who had punched him was in 7th grade, was supposed to be a freshman in high school. Some kids were claiming he’d been in military school. No idea if any of it was true.
My son, an eighth grader, was unusually silent.
Until we got into the car.
And then he said, as we drove down the block, “I want to go find that kid.” Meaning, the kid who did the punching.
Now here’s where I, as a MOM, stops to think.
I have long encouraged my children, as has their father, to stick up for anyone who is in trouble. I’ll be perfectly honest with you–I will stand behind my children if they end up getting in trouble for doing something that might be against school rules or even against the law, actually, if they were coming to the defense of someone who needed defending.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s our job as human beings. This, of course, from a 41-year-old woman who still harbors some guilt over having, most definitely, treated others badly during her growing-up years. But I learned from my mistakes (I hope), and I hope to pass that learnin’ on to my kids.
I want to talk about bullying, but I don’t know that this story I’ve recounted is the right jumping-off point.
Bullying is too huge. There are too many ways to bully.
When I was little–5 years old–I lived on a lovely, tree-lined street. My best friend Shara lived down the block, and between us lived (yes, literally) a mean-ass little red-haired kid. He’d see me, sometimes with my little brother, walking down the sidewalk to Shara’s house, and he’d come racing out of his house and down the front walk (it was tree-free right there–Dutch Elm disease had hit hard, and his front yard was a burning-hot wasteland of burning sunshine), with a 70′s bow-and-arrow “toy” in hand, and threaten to kill me/us if we continued down on “his” sidewalk.
That, as far as I knew for a long time, was a “bully.”
I don’t remember that kid’s name, but I’d love to hunt him down on facebook and extract guilt. At least an apology.
But for what, really?
I mean, here’s the thing. Here’s the real truth of the matter.
When my son, with his little cousins, the children of one of my three brothers, said “I want to go find that kid,” I, with my total inability to think before I speak (usually), said “You and me both.”
I don’t know if it’s because I was the oldest of four and the only girl. Many parts of me think like a boy. But mostly I just want to kick the asses of those who kick asses.
So, as I’m writing this, my daughter came home from her evening out. My son and I started to tell her the story of the bloody nose kid, and she’d heard about it. She’s a sophomore in high school.
And then this super-amazing thing happened.
My daughter hops on Facebook, and searches it out. She hunts down some messages being left about the situation, she gets concerned about what some kids are saying about how the bloody-nosed kid is posting. She reaches out. She wants to let this kid know it’s all gonna be okay.
And then I realized, right at that moment, that my kids know so much more than I know, and that they’re going to handle themselves in a way that will make me proud, and probably in a better way than I ever handled myself.
I never got to my point, here, did I? And I don’t even really know what my point was to begin with.
I just know I’m all wrapped up in this tonight. I can’t quite get my thoughts in order. I’m sad for this kid who had to huddle on his knees, bleeding, while a gazillion kids walked by looking at him, who had to endure the police and the ambulance, and his mom, and this goofy stranger who knelt beside him stupidly rubbing his back and stupidly telling him everything was going to be okay.
Boys and bloody noses aren’t what they used to be, are they? Or, are they? I don’t know. And there’s no way we can look at something like this as being just being a part of growing up, though that’s the way it used to be seen. I don’t know. I wish we could. The world is so much bigger, and so much smaller, all at the same time. I want to gather in the children I love and lock the doors and keep them safe. But I also know that would be doing them a disservice.
I just don’t know. Silly, huh? To be so rocked by a kid who got punched in the nose?