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How Much Is Enough?


A special corner of my ever growing Shit List is devoted to bullies of any age, size, sex, and variety. I hate ’em with a passion I usually reserve for people who park in handicapped spots, or who make their own parking spaces IN FRONT OF THE STORE.

My brother stutters terribly (sometimes incomprehensibly) and recently bonded with my husband over their shared hatred of Valentine’s Day. Specifically because they would go to school, pass out Valentine’s, and receive only a handful back. From teachers.

To someone like me, who has always been (surprisingly!) well received by my peers this seems like the most tragic thing ever.

I hate bullies by proxy. Anyone who fucks with my people (when I’m feeling kicky, “peeps”) is my enemy. Period. End of story.

(I do not, however, hate having blog trolls. In fact, I think I would marvel in rapture if I were to have one. This is the only time I like bullies: when they’re opening themselves up to ridicule AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE!)

Poor Ben, easily one of the sweetest people I have met in my entire life (where he gets this trait, I am not certain) has been dealing with a school bully since the beginning of the year. The school he goes to is small (it’s a Montessori school, for those of you playing along at home) and they’re dealing with it as best as they can, but I get the distinct impression that bullies are not something they are accustomed to dealing with.

The child who is picking on Ben, who I will henceforth refer to as “Ass Face” has been severely reprimanded (although, sadly not with corporeal punishment as I’ve been praying for) to the point of being suspended for several days and having had multiple parent-teacher meetings.

Dave recently met his father at the Father’s Brunch on Valentine’s Day (I asked Ben if I could pretend to be his father so that I could go and he looked at me completely deadpan and said “You’re not a boy.”), and rather than spitting on him like I would have done (because I am a mature, model citizen) had a conversation with the dude. Who swore up and down that “Ass Face” had never acted up this way before and he has no idea where he learned this OR why he’s doing it.

Yeah. Right.

I learned yesterday from Ben (who is also the most honest person on the planet, aside from possibly The Daver, who is PAINFULLY honest) that “Ass Face” teamed up with another child to pick on Ben.

Specifically about the size of his muscles. Which, to me, sounds laughable, but at that age, I remember someone telling me that “I didn’t need a training bra” (I didn’t) and this making me weep. Kids are insane.

So, once again, I dutifully placed a call to the school this morning to ask that the teacher call me back so that we can discuss this yet again.

I know that being picked on is just the standard rite of passage for kids, and that everyone has it happen to them, but I guess I just wish that it wasn’t happening quite so soon. It’s hard to watch this happen to your kid without being able to make it better (i.e. punching the kid in the face. Again, because I am a mature person), and I just hope that I’m doing all of the right things.


What would you do if you were in my (decidedly kicky!) shoes?

30 Comments to

“How Much Is Enough?”

  1. On February 21st, 2008 at 1:05 pm Chris Says:

    Give him a couple of smart ass replies he can use. Like, “Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? Small biceps? Come back when you have something that will actuall hurt me.” And train him on how to use them. Also, train him in mad ninja skills so that he can kill this kid with a pencil.

  2. On February 21st, 2008 at 1:05 pm Kim Says:

    We are going thru it right now with Louie.

    There is a boy, known to us as, The Little Fuck Weasel, who feels the need to push my son down, knock him into the wall during gym, and punch him in the stomach on the bus…..I will admit, I hate this child with a passion, when I see him, at school functions, I want to snap his scrawny neck, or at a minimum, break his right arm. Little Bastard.

    First of all, I called the teacher, she was SUPER FABULOUS and took it upon herself to have TLFW sent to principal’s office *my kid – first grade, TLFW – 2nd grade) Principal took care of it, TLFW made “friends” with Louie….this was good. I did not realize that TLFW was just enough of a puss-brain to be doing this on purpose, so that the next time he physically accousted my child, he would not expect it.

    did I mention that I hate this little Bastard?

    We have gone thru 3 principal trips and are very concerned about the emotional toll this is taking on OUR child, so, forgive me, my pretties, but my husband and myself made a decision and told our son this:


    I never thought I would be the parent to encourage this, but what was happening is that Other Bullies were watching my child follow the rules and be perceived as passive or a good target, so they were jumping on the bandwagon. It had to happen.

    It has not solved the issue, but I can tell you, TLFW will not put his hands on my child again, of this I am nearly certain.

    It may not be the assvise you want or appreciate, Becks, but it’s all I got.

    Let me know what happens, eh?

  3. On February 21st, 2008 at 1:07 pm Kim Says:

    I’m with Chris, Mad Ninja Skills are always good to have.

    sorry I went on so much, it’s a hot topic at our house.

  4. On February 21st, 2008 at 1:25 pm Tony Says:

    There is literaly nothing you can do. Your fighting basic instinct. Just like dogs in a pack will fight to establish pecking order, kids do the same. And once you have established you are top dog, you have to assert that fact by picking out the week and different.

    You cant stop the bully, so what can you do?

    About the only thing you can do is help Ben learn to cope with it. His reaction to the bully is ultimately whats important. everyone has to learn to brush them off, and not let it get to you. I’d explain to him that you were bullied and dave was bullied…but that no one bullies you anymore (not exactly true, if you have ever had to deal witht he DMV).

    Personally, Id also say that the more the school/teachers/parents get involved in trying to stop the bully, the more it will encourage him. He is obviously acting out against the week and against authority for some reason. The more trouble he gets into, the more he will probably just blame ben for getting him in trouble, instead of seeing that its his own behavior precipitating it.

  5. On February 21st, 2008 at 1:34 pm Jenn Says:

    Ever since my son was born (and then again, with my daughter) I have been dreading school for them. To me it seems like very few kids fall in the middle – usually a kid is either a bully (or friends with one) or getting picked on. I don’t want either of those things for my kids and honestly I don’t know what I would do. My husband sounds a lot like your husband (calm and level headed, more likely to talk) while I’m more of the get-in-your-face-and-threaten-your-ever-lasting-life kind of person. So… I’d probably just let him handle it for the most part. I have a hard time keeping my temper in check when anyone says anything about (or does anything to) my kids!

  6. On February 21st, 2008 at 2:09 pm Karen Says:

    It is such a fine line to walk because you have to empower your child to fight his/her own battles, but at the same time you have to do everything you possibly can to protect your child from assholes.

    I honestly don’t remember bullies in my youth. Maybe I went to school in LaLa Land, but we were all pretty behaved back then. I am so sorry Ben is dealing with this crap.

  7. On February 21st, 2008 at 2:21 pm Lindz Says:

    when son was picked on by his cousin (eho is younger, but much bigger) I said right in front of his parent, you should stop, becuase he’s gonna get mad, and hit you.
    It was my little way warn him, and let his parents @ the same time known, if he gets hit back then don’t be mad,when and if he does.

    other than that, I have no Idea what to tell ya.

    I qas considered a bully in Jr, High, and pretty much I was, but I was usually sticking up for someone else I had seen done wrong, and I wouldd retaliate for them, becuase I knew people wouldn’t mess with me, as much as they did them.
    I was just more confident in my “I’ll beat your ass” attitude.

    I would say let Ben, know its allright to stick up for himself with words, and or physicaclly (if it comes to it) because its not allright to be picked on in anywway.

  8. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:25 pm shay Says:

    My hubby was small and smart and didn’t become popular until he his high school and it became apparent that he was also athletic so…he was bullied a bit.

    Here’s what my mil did:
    She’s small too so the kid never saw her coming until she had him by the scruff of the neck and lifted him from the ground.

    I’m dead serious!

    She looked into his face and said, “if you mess with my kid again, you’re messing with me!”

    Can you imagine the balls? I’m not sure it would go over so well in these days of law suits etc but man, how good would it feel?

    She also taught him to fight back. He was being chased home from school (he was fast) and turned around and stuck his foot out. I think the bully missed a couple of days, but never bugged him again.

    I’m not sure my boys would do any of this and I know I wouldn’t lol. (not that feisty) My hubby was quiet but actually aggressive and not afraid to fight back.

    I homeschool so I’ve never had to send my kids daily into a situation I know they’re being bullied in. I guess I would not send him to school but I’m sure that won’t be the most popular opinion. Good luck!

  9. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:26 pm Kristin Says:

    This makes my heart hurt for little Ben-Jammin. I obviously have no words of wisdom to offer – but I am more than willing to beat down the little assface, myself. I won’t even mention Ben…I will just swoop in, attack, and leave as quickly as I came.

    I am SO not above beating down a 2nd grader that messes with the coolest dude I know.

  10. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:38 pm Andria Says:

    Jacob had a bully the entire first semester of school. One day I’ll post what I wrote about it at the time. Long story short. Teacher got him kicked out of school at Christmas.

    Jacob has been the target of bullies before. When he was three, yes three, the eight year olds up the street would come down to our driveway to play, but beat up on Jacob and call him names. When I heard one future criminal tell my toddler he was going to kick his ass, I told him if he didn’t leave my yard I was going to tell his mom and you know what? The cops showed up at my door with a restraining order from bully’s equally trashy parents stating I was bullying him. Ben’s bully needs to move to Texas, because apparently it’s all cool to be one here.

    Gawd, I feel your pain. Don’t screw with my kid.

  11. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:19 pm Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I guess my little fantasy about putting my kids in the expensive Montessori school to keep them safe from this crap can die now, huh?

    I used to be an elementary school teacher in the inner city. There was, of course, bullying. But not anywhere near me, because bullying made me go ballistic. And the kids knew it. Apparently Assface is not afraid of the teachers and/or principal going ballistic (probably because they are not teaching in an environment where the ability to go ballistic without injuring anyone is a vital job skill), so here are some other suggestions that I have seen used effectively:

    1. Ask the teacher to keep a chart of Ass Face’s behavior for a few days, then use it at the next meeting with his parents. Find out if there’s a pattern that requires counseling or if his sole problem is picking on Ben.
    2. There are lessons that a school counselor or teacher can do with the class to teach them about bullying. Once the other kids start siding against the bully, it’s a lot harder for him to keep going.
    3. Threaten legal action against Assface’s parents.
    4. Document everything Ben comes home and tells you, everything the teacher says and share it with the parents.
    5. Teach Ben how to defend himself physically and let him know that you’ll understand if he does.
    6. Teach Ben how to not care about what Assface says and encourage him to spend lots of time with other kids.
    7. Demand that Assface be put in another class.

    Yes, kids get picked on. But this sounds more severe than normal, especially since Assface has been suspended and he’s STILL doing it.

    Keep us posted.

  12. On February 21st, 2008 at 4:38 pm becky Says:

    I’d punch him in the face. No question. And I’d probably kick his dad in the junk for lying right to my husband’s face.

    Admittedly, I do not have children or a husband… so you should probably just ignore everything in the above paragraph. I just wanted to comment.

    I had a bully when I was a kid, and my parents did everything you guys are doing… and none of it worked. Ultimately, they helped me realize that she was only going to keep picking on me for as long as I let it show that it bothered me, and after a while I ignored her enough that she really did stop. (Who knew that Leave-it-to-Beaver mentality would actually work?) We ended up becoming pretty good friends in high school, although I never invited her over because I secretly knew how badly my mom wanted to punch her in the face, even all those years later.

  13. On February 21st, 2008 at 4:45 pm Five Husbands Says:

    Son No. 2, was a really chubby very sweet kid. He was a bully magnet. He was bullied all the time by one really mean kid. On one occasion (in 2nd grade) the bully pulled a chair out from underneath my boy who fell and hit his head on the concrete. We called the parents – nothing; school nothing – turns out the bully’s parents were, well, bullies.

    We told him not to fight; that the bully should just be ignored. I don’t know if what we did was right. But, although it doesn’t seem so when you are living it, these times pass and wonderful little boys grow into strong wonderful men.

    And bullies never do. Our class bully remains a bully to this day. Only he hasn’t bothered my son since 7th grade. On that occasion when Bully was doing a “your mama’s so fat …” riff my slim and ripped athletic son picked him up by his collar and said “don’t ever mess with me again.”

    And he hasn’t.

  14. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:48 pm Amy Says:

    I don’t have much advice since my child is much too young to have to deal with this yet, but I am so sorry that Ben is dealing with this right now. Kids are just so cruel, and the sad part is that no matter where you go or what school your kids go to, there is always going to be that one kid that finds joy in making other kids miserable.

  15. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:49 pm Ginger Says:

    I got nothing, but I’m not a blog troll !!!!!!!!

  16. On February 21st, 2008 at 4:52 pm Heather P. Says:

    I was bullied as a kid, not so much hit on but verbal abuse. This is why I made the decision to homeschool my son.

  17. On February 21st, 2008 at 3:53 pm Heather Says:

    I think we’ll borrow Kim’s nickname “Little Fuck Weasel” for The MAN’s nemesis, simply called Logan (but Rat Bastard Punk Bitch in adult conversation). When I walk him into class (a three-year-old preschool class, mind you), I always manage a particularly menacing lunge on the sly towards Rat Bastard Punk Bitch when the teachers aren’t looking – lovely and mature, I know. He lunges back, though.

    Our bully bullies the entire class and the two teachers. I met his mother at pick up one afternoon, and her t-shirt said “Got Jesus?” God help us.

  18. On February 21st, 2008 at 5:15 pm TheRamblingHousewife Says:

    This is my biggest fear. Especially for my little one, who wears hearing aids! 🙁

  19. On February 21st, 2008 at 6:17 pm baseballmom Says:

    We’ve gone through this a few times with T, mostly this year (6th grade) and mostly with the same kid. He does stupid stuff like tap T on the shoulder and run, make comments under his breath, etc. I know it’s because he’s jealous of T’s friendship with another guy, but I’m sick of it. T came to the car after the dance the other day, and told me how this kid was doing the tap/run thing, so I asked him what he did, and he said, “I flipped him off!” That is SO not him, but I sorta wanted to cheer. I told him that next time he should just turn around and say, “Grow up!”. It sucks that kids are like that, but I do have to disagree with the comment about not doing anything. You NEED to keep on the school, for as long as it takes, to do something. Document it all, and take it to the head honcho if you have to. Threaten legal action, yes, if you have to. It’s BS, and your kid shouldn’t have to go through it every day. I, too, have gone up to a kid who was bullying T in elementary school and told him to leave my kid alone, and it sure did work!

  20. On February 21st, 2008 at 6:23 pm Cricket Says:

    We have been through this many times with J at school and on the bus. In a one year stretch, he had 8 bullies. In school, the counselor’s who spent a lot of time specific to the subject taught some zippy come backs and he would be so proud when he used them. One kid I verbally threatened quite severely and he stopped. Four were ganging up together – they were Muslim and got physical with J, calling him “Whitey.” As I’d done about half the time before, I took these boys to the Principal and they had the wits scared out of them with calls to the parents and threats to lose bus duty. They were tagged with gang activity and racial threats, so it was big time, even though they were only in grades 2-5.

    This was hell to go through, but I do think the school did a good job. The school works daily on having an anti-bullying atmosphere; it officially started the year after it got bad for us, but I respect what they’ve done.

    I think your school should be doing more.

  21. On February 21st, 2008 at 6:45 pm Whitney Says:

    I’m a 7th grade teacher. i see this happen daily. kids who do this in my line of sight RUE THE DAY they decided to pick on someone. I just become completely out of my mind. Want me to come to town and take care of biddness?

  22. On February 21st, 2008 at 7:01 pm KT Says:

    My daughter has her own bully at school too. Although, your Ass Face seems worse than the one we deal with. Anyhow, I called the teacher. She knew it was a problem. The parents had already been brough it. It seems to be improving. I would keep at it. Keep going to the teacher. I am tempted to tell you to talk to the parents, but I can see a fight breaking out. I’d want to spit on the dad too.

  23. On February 21st, 2008 at 9:25 pm Angela Says:

    The school is LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE here. Schools have zero tolerance policies in place that protect children from bullying. I would put this squarely in the teacher’s lap. Tell her precisely which behaviors need to stop immediately. And if it happens again? Go to the principal (rinse/repeat). Then? The Superintendent. And when it gets to that point, inform them that the next time your child is bullied in school, you will file a complaint with the police department and hire an attorney. As a parent, it is your job to protect your child. As a school system, it is their responsibility to make sure they are protecting your child.

    And if they don’t, heads roll.

    That’s how it works in 2008.

    I know this from experience as both an educator and a mom. I’ll tell you all about Laura’s fourth grade year sometime. Good stuff.

  24. On February 21st, 2008 at 10:43 pm honeywine Says:

    It always seems to be about finding your own click. If the school is very small that might be hard to do. I always try to teach people to refute the horrible ass’ contentions.

    Personally, though…I say put out a hit on the brat!

  25. On February 22nd, 2008 at 6:52 am Emily Says:

    It is NOT a rite of passage and could make him dislike school. If you don’t stand up for your kid, who will?

    I had a bully problem with Zach in the fall, milder but still sad. I made VERY specific suggestions to the teacher on how to break it up. Also, keep talking to him about what is going on. Be sympathetic. It is important he know he can go to you and you will help.

    Most importantly, make sure the school understands this will NOT be tolerated.

  26. On February 22nd, 2008 at 8:46 am Rambling Amy Says:

    I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. My kids aren’t school age yet so I don’t have any advice from a mother’s perspective but I can relate some of my personal experience.
    I was never really picked on in school (which is really schocking since I was the chubby girl with glasses and few friends) and I achieved that by making myself as invisible as possible. Every situation I encountered was studied to see how I could best blend in and not be noticed, every move calculated to hold in as much of my personality as possible so that I wouldn’t be exposed to any possible derogatory comment. I didn’t dare join a club or a sport or audition for the school play.
    And while it certainly saved me from ridicule it really hasn’t worked out so well for me emotionally and socially and it’s pretty much taken 20 years, and a very loving husband and friend to make me like who I am and feel confident putting myself out there. So whatever you do, make sure your focus is on Ben. Make sure he knows that there’s nothing about himself that he needs to change or hide to try and avoid this bullying. Don’t let it stop him from being who he is and doing the things he wants to do.

  27. On February 22nd, 2008 at 10:48 am Leslee Says:

    Alex hasn’t been bullied (as far as I know), but his little heart just breaks when the kids in his class get mad at him about something. Like, he has this one little friend who came over to our house with his whole family (for real, that was the ONLY way that his mom would let him come over) and they are best friends. One day he was crying when I picked him up from school. When I asked what was wrong, he said that the little boy and another boy got mad at him, he didn’t know why and that they told him they wouldn’t be his friend anymore. They’re kosher now, but his little heart was just shattered. I really hope he never gets a bully cuzz I’m not sure what I’d do. Just that little boy telling Alex he didn’t want to be his friend anymore made me wanna go punch this kid in the face and he’s considerably smaller than my son. (Well, most kids are, but that’s not the point.) It also makes me glad that he’s not in public school cuzz, while kids can be assholes regardless of the school they’re in, there’s not as many kids in the private school and therefore, not as many bullies. My kid is such a little sweetheart that he’d get eaten alive in public school.

  28. On February 22nd, 2008 at 11:09 am LAS Says:

    Gosh, I am afraid that I don’t have any experience with this one. Sorry – I’m no help! But you make me laugh! So that’s good!

  29. On February 22nd, 2008 at 6:31 pm MsPrufrock Says:

    I love your commenters – Little Fuck Weasel? Now these are my people! Not Fuck Weasel’s people, the blogging folks that is, of course.

    I pray to baby jesus that nobody picks on my daughter when she is in school, because I will want to beat the shit out of that kid. I’m not precious when it comes to kids, and if there is a particularly vile little girl who picks on my kid I could even trot out the see to the yoo to the en to the tee word to vent my frustrations. Fucking asshole kids. Grrr…

    As for a blog troll, I thought about being anonymous and giving you the troll you richly deserve, but I didn’t want to get you all excited under false pretenses.

    Oh, and the people who make their own parking spaces? I fucking hate them. I write them vitriolic notes if I have the time. I know they don’t give a shit but it makes me feel better.

  30. On February 22nd, 2008 at 8:55 pm baseballmom Says:

    Me too, about the parking spaces…I like to write notes. One time a stoopid hoochie created one next to me at the Y, and I couldn’t even open my door to get in–somehow she got a huge scratch right down the side of her minivan…hmmmmm. Weird.

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