Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Called on My Sh*t...

I did something wrong.

I know, I know...this doesn't surprise any of you.  But this time I feel badly.

I called someone's kid the "School Bully" and they found out.

There is this boy in our school - no, not the one who picked on my son...that's another kid - this one has been in class with Iz since kindergarten and he always picked on her.

In the past, he was the kind of kid who stole balls, punched, and hit bee hives with sticks.  In fact, because of this kid, a HUGE bee hive in the school yard was "activated" and attacked half the school.  "Bee control" had to be called in.  It wasn't pretty.

He's been a trouble maker.

But unlike other "bully's" parents, this kids parents are actually aware of his behavior and have worked really hard to get him under control.   It's a tough job.  I give them a lot of credit.  I would have sold him off long ago...

Anyway, he takes karate with my daughter.  When he joined her dojo a couple of years ago we sunk in our seats.  "Great, they're teaching him karate." I thought thinking about my daughter or some other kid in class getting a karate chop to the stomach at snack time.

He would bug Iz in karate class, make nasty remarks and was generally inattentive.  The Senseis (the teachers) were always on him.  I haven't really seen much of him around the dojo lately because he moved to another group class.  "Thank God!" I thought. 

The other day we were at Karate and this boy's mom came to pick him up - he's in Izzy's new group class.  I heard his mom talking to the Sensei about buying "pepper spray" and I heard her ask if her boy would be able to figure out how to use it easily.  He said "yes".

I freaked!

As soon as they moved to the back door I said to the Sensei, "You're arming the school bully!?"

Well, I guess she heard me because today her husband came up to me in the school yard.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" He asked.

"Sure."  I waited for an apology for whatever his son had done to my daughter to naturally follow.  I'd spent the past 4 years hearing "I'm sorry" from them for whatever affront their son had committed recently. 

"I was wondering if my son had been bothering your daughter lately.  I know in the past there have been problems but I was really thinking we had it under control a little now and that things were ok.  Someone told me they overheard you call my son "the school bully" so I was just wondering if things were okay."

There was no malice in his voice.  In fact, he seemed like any protective father.  I swear I saw a bit glossiness in his eyes, like he was sad, and it made me feel horrible.  I could see, what I had said about his son hurt him.  And that I had voiced a public opinion of his son hurt even more.

Iz came out onto the playground to our pick-up meeting place and saw me talking to this boy's father.  She instinctively grabbed my waist and listened.  I had a choice of what I wanted to say in that moment.  I could have said "what are you talking about?", but it was clear, no matter what I said a lesson would be taught and learned. 

"You know what?" I said.  "I did say that.  And I'm so sorry."

He was surprised.  I could tell.  His shoulders relaxed.

"Even as I said it, I knew I shouldn't and I knew it was rude."  I tried to rationalize.  "Well, you know how our kids have a history?  Well, when I saw your wife asking the Sensei about pepper spray it scared me.  And instead of talking to your wife about it, I said something really mean.  I had no right to call him the school bully and I hope he didn't hear me."  Then I just stopped talking.  I realized I had been a total bitch.  There's no excuse for that.

"I just thought, that maybe he was bothering your daughter again, and I wanted to be sure."

I realized, I HADN'T seen his kid been bothering Izzy lately.  In actuality, he hadn't bothered her in a while.  This guy had managed to help his kid- to help change his behavior - and I just went ahead and had made things worse by perpetuating the idea that he was a bully.  I felt so badly.

He nodded.  "I understand."

I apologized again with my daughter listening.  "I shouldn't have said something so mean.  I'm really sorry."

"Thank you" he said and he shook my hand.

I know I hurt him.  And he's a good guy.  I'm a shmuck.

I hope I said the right thing and that Izzy learned you have to own up to your mistakes.  The only way to make something better is to acknowledge it and grow from it. 

This bully has learned a lesson.


  1. You have me in tears - I feel for all parties actually. What you said is human nature, a defense tactic if you will to protect your daughter. It's human nature, and the fact that you owned up to your mistake just makes you even more of a better person than you already are. We've all made mistakes, lesson learned for us all. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah-
    I really liked this piece a lot. Very honest.

  3. Hi Sarah,
    Bullying is such a problem! I've been there. One of my sons was the target of such behavior and it was very difficult for me to hold back that "mama bear" instinct! I think you handled the situation with grace. ;0)
    Tracy DeGraaf, Author, Speaker, Stand-up comedian, Mom of 5 BOYS!
    btw, I'm coming to LA to perform at The Women's Information Network Convention. Check it out! April 16, 17, 2010. Go to for details. Would love to meet you there! Smiles from Chicago!

  4. A Deft and wise and beautiful handling of a difficult situation. I'm proud to call you a friend, even if only over cyber space. That took great grace and courage. I'll watch my own words too.

    p.s. you might consider submitting a piece like this to Family and Faith Live! Email me if you want the contact info.


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