Fast forward a few years, and find a first grader. He is doing well in school because his parents have already taught him most of what he is supposed to be learning. He has no problems at home. However, he gets in fights all the time. He gets in confrontations almost once a day and comes to blows with someone at least once every two weeks.
Now, want to know the weird part?
Those kids who I was fighting, I had no freaking clue who they were. They were not in my class, I think, and I did not know them from outside of school... I just flat didn't know them. Maybe they were from the next grade up, maybe they were from my grade and I had just never noticed them, but, for whatever reason, they hated me.
One time, out of the blue, someone came up from behind me and held my arms and another came up from in front and started hitting me. This is first grade! How do these kids know to do that?
So, I head butted them, and ran away.
It became almost routine. If it came to blows, I would hit them, then run away and hide in the school's hallways until recess was over. I had long since learned that going to the teachers or the playground monitor would do no good, since I did not know who it was that was attacking me.
On the rare occasion that they were caught in the act, we, all three of us, would be forced to sit in little white squares painted on the asphalt until recess had concluded. I don't know why the teachers never listened to me; I always tried to tell them that I had not been the one who had started it. Either I could not make myself understood, or they just did not want to hear, and, looking back, I have a bad feeling that it was the latter.
I am not sure why I did not tell my parents that I was getting in all these fights. I think it just became so routine that I really thought nothing special of it.
Okay, flash-forward. It is second grade now. I am still doing well in school, and, even better, I have made a best friend.
Unfortunately, I have also made a nemesis.
What do you think when you hear your kid say that they have an arch-enemy at school? Do you think they are just kidding? Do you think that they are over exaggerating? Do you think that it is just cute kid stuff? Well it isn't. It is God damned serious business. When your kid says they have a nemesis, they are serious; their nemesis screwing with them is not kid stuff, it is serious; and when your child says that they wish their nemesis were dead, they are serious.
My nemesis was named Richard. He was unclean, uneducated, hillbilly trailer trash, and even at my young age, I could tell it. It is odd, I can barely remember what he looked like, but I can remember what he smelled like: musty, like a damp boot from last winter.
Now, you are all probably thinking that he was made fun of for his ungodly stench. The playground is a cruel place, and we must have teased him about it, right? We pushed him into being a bully. After all, you teased other kids when you were little; it is just what kids do!
Well, don't paint me with the same brush. I honestly did not care one way or the other about Richard, just like how I didn't give a second thought to anyone else in my class. Just because you acted like a little demon born from the back end of hell does not mean that I did too. I ignored Richard. Do unto others, right? All I wanted from him was for him to ignore me, too. But, of course, he did not do that. I don't know why I was singled out; I don't even know if I was singled out. He might have treated everyone that way, but surely I was not the only one who took exception to being assaulted, right?
Everyday, on the way in from recess, he would run past and punch me in the shoulder. I told my parents about this. Their response was that he was probably just playing with me. This was the first time I heard the "bad home life" argument. Richard had a bad home life, that was how people treated him, so that was how he played...
... okay, sure, but that did not get him to stop hitting me.
Eventually, I was given permission to defend myself. If he was hitting me, I could hit back; that was the deal. Problem was, how the bloody hell does "self defense" work when he was using guerrilla tactics? I couldn't defend myself from him anymore than you could protect yourself from a drive by.
Then one day, I broke. A little itty bitty piece of me went away, and when he hit me, I chased him down and tried to kill him. A teacher's aide came, pulled me off, and restrained me until Richard was back on his feet and out of the area. All those who watched looked horrified. The look on their faces, it was like they had never seen anything like me.
And Richard left me alone from that day on.
Want to know why?
Because he was afraid that next time a teacher's aide would not be there, and I would succeed in my attempt at scratching his eyes out.
Yes, I tried to claw his eyes out.
Okay, go ew. Call me a monster. Label me whatever you want, but I learned a lesson that day, and I am sure that your children are going to learn this someday too, if they haven't already.
Violence gets results.
I had told on him, I had run away from him, I had tried reasoning with him... nothing.