Friending the Bully

by - March 5, 2011

the nicest kid in the world!
Dillon is scrawny, freckled and red-headed like a Rockwell painting or the Mad Magazine kid.  He looks harmless.  Cute even.  And he's been bullying Zander for months.  Pulling hair, stealing his chair or his hat, shoving in the hallway, name calling, breaking his snow fort in the school yard.  And, of course, we didn't know anything about it because his reply to the daily, "how was school?" question is always answered with a robotic, "fine."

It took a call from the teacher to give us a clue.  "There was an 'altercation,'" she said.

Zander didn't want to tell us.  He just knew there would be a consequence involving video games.  He begins with his defence:  "Well, Dillon's been doing stuff every day."  (First we'd heard of it.)  "Today he pulled my chair out and I fell."

"So what did you do?"

"I got up and punched him."

And while we would never encourage that kind of behavior I'm listening to his story thinking, "good, you need to stick up for yourself!"  But what I said was, "do you think that was the best way to handle it?"

"No - he just shoved me back into the blackboard and I hit my head."

And so begins the dissection of Dillon:
"Does he pick on other kids too?"
"Who are his friends?"
"I don't know."
"Who does he play with?"
"Maybe he just wants to be friends with you but doesn't know how."
"How can you not know how to be friends?"
"Maybe he doesn't have any brothers or sisters."
"He has two older sisters."
"Maybe they're mean to him.  Maybe his parents aren't nice.  Maybe he doesn't know how to be nice."
"What if you asked him to play with you?"
"Yeah right, he's mean."
"You could be a good example.  Show him how to be friends."
"I'm not saying you have to Zander, it's just something to think about."
But I'm sure all he really cared about was that I didn't take away his DSi.

One week later...

"How was school, Zander?"
"Fine."  Of course.
"How was Dillon?"
"He tried to break the tunnel I was digging in the snowbank."
"So what did you do?"
"I asked him to help me build it."
"And did he?"
"How was it?"
Sheepishly now, "fun."

And I was so proud that it came bubbling out in embarrassing hugs and kisses and he just giggled and pretended to fight it but I know he was okay with it because none of his friends were around to witness.

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  1. The blackthumbMarch 06, 2011

    While I agree with you that we can't encourage our kids to fight....I think a lot can be said for "physically re-educating a wayward schoolmate who has forgotten how to behave towards you" kids attend the same school...and we recently had a very similar situation present itself.....however the child in question was not one that I would really like my child to associate being friends was out of the question...he was simply not someone I want infuencing my child....luckily we spoke to the teacher...and by all accounts everything is rosy again at school.....however if this hadn't worked......I probably would have told my kid to just wait till the teacher wasn't looking and sock him in the nose....but I'm a bit old school that the blog


  2. We've been really happy with the school. While it seems they're oblivious to what's going on - as soon as we bring it to their attention they're very quick to take charge and handle the situation. We had a lot of issues with Zander when he was younger. There was a lot of teasing over his hair - I think we cared more than he did - but the teachers were good about addressing bullying right in the classroom


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