Let’s talk about school bullies for a moment.  In the school where I work there are anti-bully signs everywhere.  No one likes a bully.  I was bullied as a child, so where my friends—let’s take a pause for the tears & the devastated childhood that my friends & I suffered through—are we done with that bull shit?

Oh, wait, you still want to cry a little more.  I’ll give you some more time.

Tik tok tik tok tik tok.

Are you done yet?

Now let’s get down to the serious shit.  I was a comic book nerd as a child, of course I was bullied, every Wednesday I made a bee line for the local comic shop & cursed the fact that, unlike the adults, I was too young to take the time off work to buy out Sin City.  Those fuckers, they only left me with A Dame to Kill For & I missed just about half of That Yellow Bastard.  To be honest, that had a more profound affect on my friends & I than the bullying.  But even that was overcome, in college; they put all of Sin City out as a series of TPBs that look awesome on a book shelf.  Problem solved.  Outside of missing The Death of Superman, largely for the same reason, I don’t think I had a very traumatic childhood.  Even with the bullying.

I certainly didn’t feel the need to kill myself because Ryan was an asshole.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I ran into him years later & he turned into an OK guy, I wouldn’t think about him very much.  His friend Mike who also used to bully me took a couple of summer classes at a community college with me a few years after our high school graduation.  You know what, once Mike went to college he made the amazing transformation from bully to hysterical.

That’s just the way things work out.  The bullies you fought in school turn into pretty OK people & in the case of Mike, pretty fucking amusing people.  I like Mike, despite our harsh past, & I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him now.  I hear he has a wife & kids, haven’t seen him since the wedding, I hope he’s still as funny as he was in college.  Ryan is OK, every time I see him now, which is about once a year over the holidays when we are both out running errands or Christmas shopping, he takes the time to stop & chat.  It’s not exactly like the Springsteen song, but still, he takes the time to be social.  So no hard feelings.

Yeah, they did bully me pretty hard, they did the same to my friends, but they never made me want to kill myself & they never made me want to kill them.  Sometimes they made me fear going to school, but even that ended when I got there & I started bull shitting with my buddies.

My friend Chris may still hold a grudge, but he can act like a woman that way.

That’s just what kids have to go through in school.  Even Bart Simpson has to endure the occasional bully.  The bullies, in the long run, didn’t hurt us at all.  What would have hurt us is the Molly Coddling that goes on today.

The teachers, when I was in elementary school, hated Ryan.  By the time I got to Junior High, I fought him on sight.  It was the “Chicago Solution.”  Fuck it, you know?  It’s one thing to know you’re going to get bullied, to know you might get your ass kicked.  But an element of pride came with losing a fight to Ryan that you started & the teachers in Junior High turned a blind eye to it when I started it.  They knew what was going on.  If you go down swinging its better than just going down, you know?

What does the Molly Coddling prepare you for?  Future unemployment?  Trust me; you’ll probably be unemployed in this economy any way.

Now I’m not endorsing bulling, but I do feel that kids need it.  If our current education system is inclined to make everyone a winner, well, that ultimately makes everyone a loser & bullies force kids to stand up.  The schools won’t do it.  Hell, even some gym classes declare both sides the winner no matter the score.

I, personally, feel that is damaging to kids.  I don’t need to be the winner.  I just want to play the game, & if its close & I still lose that’s a hell of a lot better than winning by a landslide.  If you only lose by a point or two, you played one hell of a game.  Winning that way is even better.  If I’m going to play a game I want a beat down drag out fight.  I want it to go into over time.  I want a fucking challenge, that’s why you play, right?

Bullies present a challenge & schools today, well they aren’t allowed to.  It’s the reason why kids are just crumbling now.  It’s even in the video games these days.  When I was a kid, you only had so many lives & so many continues.  In today’s games the lives are infinite.  You always win; all you have to do is play it long enough.  Back in the day, you had time & limited lives.  You had a challenge & you were probably going to lose & be forced to start all over again.

When I was ten, Kevin & I got into a pretty good fight.  Both our parents were there.  Neither of them bothered to break it up.  They circled around & watched.  They understood that a little blood would be spilt & we’d get over what we were fighting about.  That’s just what kids do, especially boys.  It was a learning experience for both of us.  Kevin & his little brother eventually moved away.  I cried more over that than I did the fight.  Kevin & his little brother were awesome, the new kids that came in would never, ever sneak out of the house, scale that massive wall & play ghosts in the graveyard in Bohemian National Cemetery at midnight.  The new kids were fucking California chicken shits.

Call me Irish, but Molly Coddling is not good for children. It doesn’t boost self confidence.  Sure, they might feel great when they leave & everyone is a winner, but they aren’t learning to pick themselves up & do it all over again.  They aren’t learning how to look defeat in the eye & have the brass to ask for a rematch.

You know that attitude; “next time I’ll win.”  Well that’s gone.  You’ve got cry babies instead.  What good are they going to do anyone, let alone themselves?  At least bullies teach kids that they have to get back up & go to school the next day & face what’s coming.  Even if they don’t fight back, they learned that they got up, went to school, suffered through the bully, came home bloody & were able to get to class again the next day.

I was fourteen when I finally beat my dad at basketball—that’s not saying much, we both suck.  I was twenty-three when I finally beat him at chess, that was a hands done dragged out guerilla war.  Now I rape him, it’s so bad I really don’t like playing him any longer, the thrill is gone.  But he never once let me win & he’d be pissed if I let him win now.  I think that’s a generation thing, back when I was a kid, dad didn’t let you win.  Dad was bigger, stronger, faster, & smarter & you had to play your absolute best game when you played with dad.  You knew you were going to lose when you played dad.  Winning wasn’t the point, all you wanted to do was make him sweat; make him fight for his victory.  If it looked like he was hurting, that was as good as a victory.

Kids need that.  They need to lose so they can learn to try again.  They need to lose so they can learn that losing is OK, so long as they are willing to get back into the fight the next time it comes around.  Bullies force kids to push themselves & in an era where parents, video games, & teachers let them win, they need that bully to push them down so they learn how to get back up.

That’s an important life lesson right there.  Kids these days, especially kids in the suburbs, they don’t know how to fight.  Boys need to learn how to fight.  It’s a harsh world out there that will kick them around pretty good—unless they are rich enough to avoid it—they don’t need all this confidence building.  They need to learn how to dig in & fight.  It’s a life skill & probably the most important life skill that a little boy can learn.

Do your kids a favor & teach them how to lose & get back up & play again.  Teach them how to fight.  Teach them how to dig in a little & take some abuse.  It’s a macho thing, I know, but men should be hard.  They should be able to take a punch & still be in the fight.  That’s the reason so many kids are killing themselves over bullies, that’s the reason why bullies are such a problem.


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