Earlier in the week, my 6th grader came home waving a piece of paper and announced “I got another A+ for my poem today!”

“Congratulations!” I beamed.

“Our assignment this time was to write a poem about bravery. So, I wrote a poem about bullying. And it was inspired by you! ” 11-year-old continued, “So, here. Read it!”

Anti Bully poem

I took the piece of paper in my hand, and read the poem as instructed.

Diblet the Coward

There was once a mean kid
Who bullied us all.
He was really scary,
And his name was Diblet Nall.

He called us bad names–
The Worst of them all.
He tripped us so much,
Many times did we fall.

Some kids stood up to him,
Mighty and tall.
I shrank away,
Frightened and small.

I was always the first
To run from Diblet Nall.
But Once I saw him
Punching my little brother, Paul.

And everyone watched,
Totally enthralled,
As I picked up a stick
And charged Diblet Nall.

I pushed him with it hard,
And screamed, “Go away!”
Scurrying like a little mouse,
Diblet Nall obeyed.

The next time he came,
We just shoved him aside.
For now we knew
What he was inside.

I was deeply surprised that my child chose this particular incident as inspiration to write about bravery. This poem was indeed based on one of my more memorable bullying experiences. Except it didn’t have a happy ending. My child assigned the poem a triumphant and happy ending that conforms to all Hollywood films and most modern-day tales. In reality, this incident ended sadly for me.

When my family immigrated to America in 1982, we moved into my grandma and uncle’s low-income apartment in Los Angeles. It was a nice apartment, much, much nicer and more spacious than the tiny one-bedroom apartment my family shared back in China. And grandma’s apartment had a nice kitchen, a refrigerator full of food, and a small pantry full of yummy snacks for the grand kids. Best of all, the apartment had its own bathroom with hot water anytime of the day. I liked living there. The problem was going outside.

My little sister, cousin, and I were the only Chinese kids in the complex. We were the three little mice of the complex, the other kids that lived in this complex were our cats, and there were about 15 of them. Whenever we needed some fresh air, we liked to go outside and play at the small playground area right by our building. It had a simple slide, and two swings that made awful squeaking noises. Once outside, we tip-toed around, and were on constant look out. If we saw or heard the other kids, we always ran back to our building fast, or else, they would chase us down, run us over, and eat us alive.

One gray and blustery fall afternoon, I was walking home from my Jr. High School. As I approached my building, I heard children screaming and shouting. My little sister and my cousin attended our local elementary, and they usually arrived home just a little earlier than me. Instinctively, I quickened my steps.

As my building came into view, I saw a group of 7 or 8 kids blocking the door to my building, circling my sister and cousin, hitting them and shoving and them around in the middle, as the two frightened children tried desperately and hopelessly to get inside the building to home.

I felt anger. I looked around, and saw a stick laying on the grass. It was a tree branch that had fallen on the ground. I picked it up, raised the stick high up, charged at the group, and screamed at the top of my lungs, “Ahhhhhh!!!”

I felt like a warrior in the movies, ready to fight to the death.

My action took the other kids by surprise. And I let my stick fall onto those bullies mercilessly and randomly. Two kids yelped at the pain, and took off running holding on to their arms, and all the other kids took off after them with their tales between their legs.

My sister, cousin, and I were left stunned. We had no idea that fighting back can produce such swift and EASY victory. And this was better than the victories I had fantasied about in my free time.

I tossed the stick aside, and we walked to our apartment together feeling happy.

Our celebration was short lived. 10 or 15 minutes after the incident, our doorbell was run rudely in quick succession. My Aunt who was in the kitchen, opened the door quickly.

A tearful small boy, and an angry woman were at the door.

My former bully was a wretched sorry sight. His one hand was clutched tightly in his mother’s hand, and he used the back of his free hand to wipe his tears and a snotty nose.

He pointed me out, and said something in Spanish to his mother in between his sobs.

His mother spoke to my Aunt loudly and combativly.

My Aunt asked me if I had hit this boy.

I answered yes, and quickly added, that it was because this boy and his friends were hitting my sister and my cousin first. And added, that it was them who were always terrorizing us. It was declared loud enough for the woman to hear.

My Aunt went back to the woman, and they had more unpleasant talk, with the angry woman waving her finger in my Aunt’s face, at me, and at her son’s arm.

My Aunt turned and asked me to apologize to the boy. I was stunned for a second time on that day. And I refused.

My Aunt was not happy with me. But she turned to the duo at the door, mustered her best smile, lowered her head, and apologized to the woman and her boy repeatedly.

The woman was not gracious. She barked at us some more. Then they left.

My Aunt didn’t like the treatment she just received, and rightfully took it out on me. She yelled at me for having hurt that boy.

It was disheartening. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks uncontrollably that day. We finally fought back and won. Only to have the bully’s mom to come and bully us some more.

As an adult, I suffer no real emotional drawback from such unpleasant experiences. Except, as I read my child’s proud and triumphant poem, I feel a certain bitterness. And whenever I read in the news about bullying, I often find myself wondering about the bully’s parents. The people responsible for raising such mean-spirited kids.

Like most people, I don’t like bullies, but I hold a special dislike towards the bully’s parents. I despise the bully’s parents.

Related previous blog: Wacky Family

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