48: Bullies on the Bus

48: Bullies on the Bus

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids

Bullies on the Bus

The man who does not value himself cannot value anything or anyone.

~Ayn Rand

I was always the shy one. When a group activity was going on I didn’t insert myself into the middle of the action, I sat and watched, waiting to be asked to join in. Sometimes I was asked and sometimes I wasn’t.

I had a nice group of friends in school so it wasn’t like I was a loner. There was always a nice group of people at my lunch table. School was never an issue. In my neighborhood, the kids that I became friends with were a grade ahead of me. This wasn’t a problem until I was in eighth grade, still attending middle school, and they started ninth grade at the high school.

Suddenly, the bus rides were lonely. I sat by myself in the middle of the bus gazing out the window as we passed my friends’ houses. Because they were in high school they caught a much earlier bus. I had to ride with the younger kids who were dropped off at the elementary school next to my middle school.

For some reason I became the target of three fourth-grade girls. They got a kick out of piling into the seat behind me and pulling my hair. One would taunt me with mean names. I ignored them or told them to quit, but the bullying continued.

As the season changed to winter and the school bus windows fogged up, I’d walk to my seat only to see one of them had drawn all over the window and made ugly pictures of me. I smeared the drawings and ignored them.

I noticed one of the girls, the one who always called me names, held slightly back from the group. It was as if she was being peer-pressured to be one of the bullies. Since my tactic of ignoring them wasn’t working, I started making eye contact with her and smiling even if she was saying cruel things. That was my only retaliation. I wanted her to know that I knew she didn’t want to be doing this.

It started to work. Some days she never made a comment to me. Other times she would shut right up as soon as I looked at her. I think my smiles confused her, as they were not the reaction she was expecting. The other two continued with the hair pulling and the drawings and making fake fart sounds and then trying to say I was stinking up the bus, when no one was actually farting and nothing smelled.

I got through the bus rides by reminding myself that the next year they would not be on my bus and by the time they were I would be driving myself to school. They were only a temporary problem, mean girls who didn’t deserve my attention.

Still, one can only take so much. One day, as they sat behind me calling me names, I started doing the math in my head. When I was a senior in high school they would be freshmen. Everyone knew about Pick on Freshmen Day. It was a rite of passage I would be spared because when I was a freshman my good friends who were older than me would protect me.

I spun in my seat and glared at the two girls behind me.

“Do you think you’re funny?” I demanded to know in the sternest tone I could muster.

“We’re funny, you’re not!” shot the one that I’m pretty sure was the leader.

“We’ll let’s see who is laughing when I’m a senior and you are a freshman and Pick on Freshmen Day comes.”

I spun back around in my seat and secretly smiled. All was quiet behind me and the truth of what I said sunk in. Suddenly the leader burst into tears and made her way to the front of the bus. She cried to the bus driver that I was going to beat her up and she was afraid of me.

The only advice the bus driver offered was to stop picking on me.

Victory!

The bullying stopped, for me anyway. The girls started sitting in the very back of the bus, except for the one I pegged as the weakest link. She moved up front.

One day as I was getting off the bus she stopped me to apologize, saying she never meant to hurt my feelings. It turned out that once they stopped bullying me, her so-called-friends started bullying her.

I told her I understood and that is why I was always kind to her even when she was being mean. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to fight back; it’s that sometimes you have to do the right thing even when no one is looking.

She got the message. And I never did participate in Pick on Freshmen Day. No one likes to be bullied.

~Valerie D. Benko

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