Do You 'Friend' a Childhood Bully?
A writer gets on schoolyard trauma, and wonders if our own kids are too protected to fight their own battles.
It was an ordinary day at the job. I was running reports, checking emails and checking my Facebook account for the umpteenth time that afternoon. "Ooh, a new friend request," I thought. But when that window popped up and I saw my elementary school bully, Sabrina Jefferson (name changed to protect the guilty), I screeched, "Oh no, The Gooch!"
Sabrina terrorized me from 4th grade until the beginning of 6th grade. The weird thing is that she didn't just bully me; she bullied me and five other girls. How could one wavy hair girl have had that much control over a group of cute, outgoing and smart young girls? She would roll her eyes, boss us around and tease us relentlessly.
I remember sneaking to the candy store in the mornings before school to buy her Now and Later candy. I never knew what to expect from day to day. I was constantly anxious. If Sabrina decided she didn't want to be my friend one day, she would tell all the other girls not to talk to me. And they listened. I listened too, on the days she decided to pick on someone else. While I don't remember her hitting me (she did have a helluva pinch though), my friend recalls her sticking a pencil shaped sharpener into her hand in the girls' bathroom.
No one wanted to deal with the abuse, so Sabrina was always picked first in kickball (think Norbit), won all the dance contests, got invited to all the slumber parties and any boy that she had a crush on was off limits. Why it took two years for the six of us to rally together and perform a coup d'état is beyond me. But we did.
It all started when Samantha (name not changed to applaud the brave) arrived to the school in fifth grade. She never understood why everyone was so scared of Sabrina. "I can remember playing Double Dutch and [Sabrina] always got to jump first, even if she came out late for recess," she recollects. Samantha played along with the insanity for a while, but one day after Sabrina yelled at another friend, Samantha "cursed" her out, yelling that she wasn't afraid of Sabrina and threatening to beat her up. Sabrina recoiled and backed out of the fight. The six of us sat in that classroom with our mouths open. Did someone just stand up to Sabrina and live to tell the story? Maybe Sabrina wasn't so tough after all. From that day, things changed. And Samantha will always be remembered as my modern day Harriet Tubman.