On the occasion of the April 13 opening of the movie "Bully," a son teaches a mom a lesson: There were three bullies not one - the bully, the school principal, and mom herself.
I told my son to hit him hard and fast.
“Aim for the nose,” I said. “It will make him cry. He’ll bleed -- a lot. Then hit him again. Harder. If you get in trouble with the school, don’t worry. You won’t be in trouble at home.”
My son always said no. “I don’t want to hurt anybody. It’s not who I am.”
Each day for endless months my son came home from seventh grade with stories about the boy. How he humiliated my son in front of the class with a clever putdown or a quick smack when the teacher turned her back. At first my son’s friends laughed it off. Then they turned primal and wouldn’t let him sit at their lunch table. I was enraged, my son was stunned and becoming glummer by the day. Hit him, I pleaded, wishing I could somehow inhabit my son’s body and do it myself. My son always said no.
“That’s not who I am,” he said. “You’re only making it worse.”
The turning point came one day in the locker room when the boy looked at my son as they changed and said, “I dreamed I [hurt] you.” [Editor's note: The original version of this quote was edited to remove a graphic description of the specific threat.]
I didn’t trust the principal to help and my son didn’t trust me; I called the police instead.