Most have been bullied in their lifetime at some point including me. And while it is a practice that has existed since there were parents and children, it’s never been as 24/7 as it is these days with social media and texting when humiliation can spread like wildfire on a hot summer day in California.
I was always thankful that Charles was rarely bullied and from early on he understood that bullies had some underlying reason for their actions. I remember his being bullied on the bus at the age of 6 by a much older child which was killing me but I resisted reporting it and trying to butt in, choosing instead to see if he could handle it himself. I wanted him to learn to solve these types of issues.
I tried coaching him but once I told him that the boy probably had underlying problems which was why he was acting out, that’s all Charles needed to hear. My idea was that he ask the boy what kind of ice cream he liked. To shock him with that question. Both my boys laughed at me and thought it was ridiculous. (I think Richard actually tried this strategy later and it worked.)
Next time Charles was bullied on the bus, he went silent when the kid was bothering him, looked up at him and said, tell me what’s going on with you. Something or someone is hurting you.
From what I heard the kid stopped cold, shocked that Charles had uncovered his pain and he left him alone after that. Some time during the school year or maybe even a year later, the older child told Charles his father was angry with him for being overweight and he was humiliated at home. There may have been more to it and I think there was but the fact is that he ended up confiding in Charles, knowing that he would not be judged harshly and that he was an empathetic soul.
No one ate alone if Charles could help it. No new child came to school without my son stepping forward to welcome them no matter what disability the child had, no matter what the child looked like, how they dressed or where they were from. He accepted people for who they were. I loved hearing from other parents who worried about their child at a new school tell me that my child made the transition to a new school effortless and smooth.
As funny and as talented as Charles was, that was truly his greatest gift. Letting other people know they matter. I miss that so much. So this month, show some love and let it be contagious.