About Matt Drinker.
I say, “And Lance too? After what he did? Knocking
away the charcoal can?”
Calvin says, “No, not so much that. I can defend myself.
I have a voice. But what Matt Drinker did to his dog, that’s
different. It is disturbing.”
Tell you what. Disturbing is a word that goes way inside.
Close to my bones.
from The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
by Leslie Connor
Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018
I had a bike when I was young, like most of the kids in the neighborhood. It was not new, and I spent several hours de-rusting the chrome handlebars. I painted the fenders bright yellow. My mom helped me cover the seat with red and yellow flowered contact paper. Streamers flowed from the handlebars. It was a Cadillac.
I liked to ride my bicycle around the neighborhood. I rode to the swimming pool, the school playground, and sometimes I did errands for my mom. We had a Lawson’s nearby. Most of the time I walked there, but sometimes I rode. I had a basket. I never rode home with milk, though. It came in glass jugs.
A young bully lived around the corner from me. We were the same age, but he was small with a big mouth. Maybe he liked picking on the other kids or maybe it was just something he did. His name was Sammy. Maybe he got nicer when he grew up. I kinda doubt it, though.
On a beautiful summer day, I was riding around my block. My street ran a little down hill. If I rode from the top of my street toward my house, I could go pretty fast. I had just made the turn when Sammy came plowing out from the other direction. And wham. He crashed into me and I went down. My head cracked against a tree before I hit the sidewalk.
Of course I cried. I was eight.
Of course he mocked me for falling and crying. He was a bully.
Not only did I get a bloody knee, I chipped my front tooth when my head hit the tree.
To say my folks were upset is like saying Hurricane Irma was a shower. I’m not sure I have a word for how they were. Angry doesn’t get close. My dad was still at work, but the second he got home, my mom and dad marched me over to Sammy’s house. Let’s just say I did not want to go. At. All.
They rang the doorbell and a barrel-shaped man answered. He was wearing a sleeveless undershirt and long pants. He was holding his belt. His apron-clad wife was stirring something at the stove.
And there was Sammy. Under the kitchen table. Crying. Oh my. I never saw such a thing.
My irate dad yelled something unflattering about the way Sammy was being raised. My mom sized up the situation in a heartbeat and asked Sammy’s parents to pay the dentist bill, which I’m pretty sure they did.
The dentist reassured my parents and me. I did not lose my tooth.
And I learned something that day.
Even bullies cry.
And I’m pretty sure bullies don’t like themselves. How can they?
A couple of things motivate a bully. It is a heady experience for a bully when he (she) can boss people around and knock them down. Even, maybe especially, if the people getting bossed are vulnerable and weak.
Also, it’s hard for a bully to admit he (she) has done something wrong, or made a mistake, or used poor judgement.
Bullies need henchmen, too. Bullies surround themselves with people who can be cowed.
Is it really easier to dig in and shout louder and louder, “It’s not my fault”? or make up lies about 3,000 plus bad, scary, dangerous people trying to attack us? So we need a wall?
Telling the truth is hard, sometimes. Being kind doesn’t have to be.
What people need, vulnerable and otherwise, is to be protected from bullies.
I’m kinda done being afraid. At least about that.
Stay curious! (and courageous)
BTW: I really liked Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg. I’m glad she gave us some more time with Lucille. I also enjoyed meeting the new arrivals to her town, Mason MO. The Story of Arthur Truluv was my favorite of the two, but Ms. Berg is a genius at showing us the importance of friendships and how even a small, kind act can change someone’s world.
I’m reading The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I’m about halfway through and recommend it, so far!