I love you, Jimmy McNichol!!!

When I was in fifth grade I moved from one state to another. I was a New Kid in a small parochial school, with only one other New Kid. On day two of school I heard a rumor that the other New Kid, "didn't like me." I was crushed, heartbroken; I hadn't ever known anyone to not like me, especially someone that I hadn't even officially met. That night I cried to my mom, not understanding why someone who didn't know me didn't like me. I learned a lot that night as I cuddled with my mom, crying on her shoulder.

The next day at recess a group of kids came running over to me and breathlessly told me that SHE WAS COMING OVER TO BEAT ME UP!!! Sure enough, behind them came The Other New Girl, arms crossed against her chest, a couple of other fifth grade girls flanking her, eager for the confrontation.

Quickly I assessed my options; I'd never been in a fight before, and didn't know how these things worked. I knew I didn't want to get hurt, but I also didn't want to get in trouble for fighting. I made my decision just as this girl, let's call her Sallie, approached me. I don't remember what it was she said to me to inform me we were about to duke it out; I was too pumped up with adrenaline and fear. As the crowd formed a circle around us (just like I'd always imagined, but in my in my fantasies the crowd surrounded me because I was dancing with Jimmy McNichol, while his sister Kristy McNichol, my BEST FRIEND, was clapping in the background because she finally got the two of us to admit our everlasting love for each other).

Sallie started throwing punches and slaps; I ducked and avoided and shielded myself with my arms. The crowd was getting larger, and there was a lot of yelling and commotion.

When I saw my opportunity, I stood up, drew back my right arm and launched my fist towards her. It connected with her right eye; she was stunned (as was I, my plan was WORKING!) and knelt over, hands covering her face. Sticking to my plan, I ran, pushing my way through the crowd and straight to the principal. I didn't stop at the receptionist...just barged right into the principal's office and hurled myself onto her sofa. I was crying, upset at what had just happened, horribly afraid I'd be in trouble, wondering why I was even in this position. I told the principal everything, honestly, including my plan and how it worked (!).

Sallie got detention, I got a hug. Well, she got a hug, too, I'm sure. But I didn't get detention. Nanadepoopoo, Sallie.

There will always be bullies, in every walk of life. As much as I like the idea of turning the other cheek again and again and again and again and again and again, all bullies learn from that capitulation is to keep bullying. There are going to be times, whether due to history or immediacy, that a bully must be confronted.

P.S.: That's the one and only physical punch I've ever thrown.


  1. What a great post... I'm tempted to print this out to let my son read in the future (if he should need it... heck even if he doesn't). I'd love to hear if your friend's son ever gets his bully issues resolved... and how!

  2. As a school counselor - bullying is one of the most frustrating issues because of the fact the most bullies are not physical any more. But they do harass kids emotionally and most of the time they are smart enough to do it when there are not adults around. And as much as the adults at the school really do try to stop it, what really makes a difference is having the bystanders step up; those kids who are not bullies and are not victims, but don't do anything to let people know that this is not OK. If these kids can be taught skills on how and when to step it, a lot of times this is the best way to end bullying. But, this takes a system wide effort of changing the way kids see these behaviors. And probably there till still be some that slip through. I hope that something helps for this boy. It is heartbreaking.

  3. Oh wow. I feel so bad for that little boy.
    Here's my 2 cents. I am NOT a sue happy person, but to me it looks like the parents have done all the right things and no one is getting through to the bully that this has to stop. Maybe, just maybe the threat of legal action against the school and the parents will make something change. It sounds as if they have lots of materials to prove their case as they've documented everything.
    I am a teacher and as much as I would not want my school to be sued I know that sometimes the administration just doesn't do enough. Something has to be done or this child is going to grow up with major issues - crying because school's going to start? That's bad.

  4. Oh bullies. I forgot about bullies. I got lucky with bullies.
    the moosh better not have to deal with bullies.
    Guess I better start working on her right hook.

  5. You go, Girl! I love the punch & THE GENIUS of running to the head-honcho.

  6. Glad you handled it so well.

    I hate the thought of bullies for either of my children. I have a feeling my daughter will be more than capable of standing up for herself. My son, so far, seems so much quieter, and I would worry he wouldn't. Ugh - this parenting thing, it's full of unknowns.

  7. My heart is breaking for your friend and her son. This has got to be one of the hardest things ever for a kid to go through, and therefore for a mother to go through as well.

    I wish I had some sage advice, but you are right. The isn't an easy way to deal with these types of kids or the parents that raise them this way.

    P.S. You are one punch ahead of me in life! I was a cowardly kid.

  8. I loved this post and the story about you. i find myself having sense memory moments all during these pre-school days. I have a sensitive daughter. oy. I know where that came from ....
    brings me back. and how to give the skills to empower them. tricky stuff. great post.

  9. Oh, this is such a great post...even though my heart is in a thousand pieces right now for that boy.

    A friend who got bullied horribly has already planned to give the same advice if his kids need it. I trust him--he knows how bullies operate better than anyone I know. He swears that fighting back that first time can end it . . . and he's going to make sure his kids get some karate lessons in. I will tell him your story about going straight to the principal to get your side of the story in first. So many adults have no clue, or forget, how absolutely devastating, and indeed life-changing sometimes, bullying is.


Brilliant observations: