March 24, 2004 - "The Bully" by Debi Bartow
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I was really touched by Debi's most recent story and the humility with which she told it. It's a good reminder for all of us to look beyond a bully's actions to see the pain that the Lord would want us to pray for and love. Thank you Debi!
By Debi Bartow
Last fall during a hometown football game my 11 year old son was challenged to a fight by a much bigger boy. My 18 yr. old son, Preston happened to be within ear shot and promptly stepped in. When Preston questioned the 'Bully' he stated he wanted to fight Tommy because he felt like it.
Along comes basketball season and as fate would have it Tommy and the Bully are on the same team.
The Bully is almost two years older then Tommy but they are both in the 6th. Grade.
'Bully' is a real challenge to the coaches as he wants to do things HIS way and most of the time refuses to listen but wow, can this kid play ball!
I've been through many, many seasons with my children and I believe that this boy is one of the most talented players I've seen. Yes, he is older then most of the other players but he has the ability of being a SUPERSTAR by the time High School rolls around.
The coach knows his talent too. The coach also knows other kids on the team suffer because of his attitude. They don't receive the playing time they deserve as 'Bully' doesn't like to share the ball and wants to be the only one scoring. But 'Bully' is the best player on the team. Do you sacrifice the team for a win? Do you bench your talent?
Tommy has mentioned that if he acted like 'Bully' the coach would never tolerate that kind of disrespect from him yet it is looked over when it's 'Bully'. I never understood why the coach would allow this domineering boy to get away with the things he does. That is until last night.
At practice, the Bully of course wasn't following the coaches' commands and was doing things HIS way. He believes he is a one man team. The coach gives the 'No I in Team' talk but it doesn't do any good. The coach finally tells him to sit on the bench. 'Bully' gives the coach a 'look' and walked past me, got his coat and left. The coaches thought he was getting a drink of water. It wasn't the first time he left when things didn't go his way.
I mentioned to another parent that I have never seen a child with so much attitude.
That's when I was told about 'Bully'. His parents were into drugs and Bully's father is now in prison. His mother decided to move in with her boyfriend and since the boyfriend has three kids of his own she decided she didn't want the burden of a fourth child so she tossed the 'Bully' away.
In a little over a year 'Bully' has been in numerous Foster homes.
Because 'Bully' refused to listen to the driver of the school bus he is no longer permitted to ride the bus. His Foster parents refuse to drive him to school so he walks about 3 ½ miles from their home to the school! I am sure they are trying to teach him a lesson but anyone that knows Ohio knows that the weather can go from rain to freezing rain to snow within hours. Our winters can be bitterly cold, as is the case this year. Bully walks the elements everyday.
On our way home from practice I talked to Tommy about 'Bully'. It surprised me that he already knew. I then explained to Tommy that sometimes when children have a bad home life they take it out on the world. I told him that I thought 'Bully' was plum full of anger. Maybe 'Bully' thinks the only thing he is really good at is basketball and he feels the court gives him his turn to shine. Tommy wouldn't hear of it. In Tommy's mind 'Bully' is just plain bad. Tommy even said that everyone on the team believes if they acted like him the coach wouldn't let them play. We talked until Tommy became furious and said, "You feel sorry for everyone!"
This became a no-win situation. Tommy was right. There is no doubt in my mind that Tommy wouldn't be playing. As a parent I wouldn't permit him to play and I believe with that kind of attitude the coach would set him on the bench. I guess it's a no win situation for the coach too. Most likely it's also a no-win situation for his foster parents too.
At home, Preston agreed with Tommy, I am a softy for a hard luck story.
But this is a CHILD. Children are a gift! I was heartbroken over this boy and as I talked with Preston I came to realize that he hit the nail on the head when he told me I was feeling guilty because I didn't like the Bully and now I felt sorry for him.
When a child walks with a chip on his shoulder how can they overcome the reputation they have created for themselves?
Preston, ever the wise one, said, "You either deal with the circumstances or you rebel." But what happens after the rebellion? According to Preston you grow up.
I distinctly remember the "Bully" in my school when I was in 3rd. grade. I can even remember her name! She was bigger then all of us and she was a tyrant! I think most of the student body was scared to death of her. I think I still am!
I guess Tommy will remember this boy when he's in his 40's and he'll most likely tell his children about him as he tries to help his own children understand another bully's attitude.
I think the cards have been stacked against 'Bully'. He just needs to learn to reshuffle the deck and hopefully as an adult he'll be dealt a Royal Flush.
I pray for 'Bully' and I ask that God forgives me for judging a child.
Debi Bartow copyright 2004
Debi lives in Norwalk, Ohio and has written for 2TheHeart for the past several years! Some of her previous stories are "A Miracle for my Little Angel", "My Father's Star", and "Qualifications".
The Letter Box:
I live in NY and am really waiting early for spring, so your story "Caring For Spring" was just what I needed! It made me see the beauty around me. Thank you! Beverly
Caring for spring - Sue's story reminds me of my mother. When we'd had a garden, it had always been for vegetables, but she had one odd little corner by the gate which she would fill with seeds and all summer there'd be brightly coloured flowers there, right next to the wall where she put the crumbs out for the birds. A pink climbing rose blossomed abundantly over the high wall of the outside lavatory. One Saturday morning, a bride came with a request and mother picked all the roses for her and her bridesmaid's wedding flowers. I thought we'd never see any roses again but the next year they flourished.
Getting on in years, she had to move to a tiny house in a back street. There was no garden, only a tiny forecourt. One day I visited and found colourful blooms, their scent and loveliness brightening the dull street. She had found an old white 'pot' sink that was being thrown out and had filled it with earth and put in seeds, which were only waiting for the chance to show what they could do. Everyone that passed enjoyed the small, bright, brave show. Those sinks are now prized and installed in posh houses as 'Belfast sinks'. They are strong and deep and I wouldn't want one in my kitchen but they sure make a great little garden..
Margaret Drysdale, England