Bullying does not start in the school yard

Stories. What are their values if not to teach us something about ours or other people’s characters? Yes, some are funny, some can entertain, but if they can’t teach something for us to imitate or avoid, they are useless tales. In my book, anyway. So let me share a few with you this week.

A friend of mine tells me about his mother-in-law. She goes to a nice hotel with his family and while there she hits the pool with the grandchildren. The kids immediately set their sides on a couple of noodles they must have to play with in the pool, but there is one problem — the noodles are not available. They are currently being in possession of another set of little kids who are happily playing with their young father, who happens to be Asian.

The kids go to grandma and demand to have those noodles. Now what would you do if you were the grandma in question? Any sensible person would call the kids and tell them to wait their turn, right? You would probably say something like, “Look, they got here before we did, and they got the toys. We must wait until they are done or if they lose interest, we can ask whether we might use them.”

Not this grandmother, though. She tells the children to go to the corner where the happy kids are and start making noise, splashing water “and you will see how quickly they will leave the pool.” This reminded me of a friend from Israel who married a Brazilian lady. He told me that whenever he got stopped by the Highway Patrol for some violation — over there they take you to a little office along the road — he would order his kids to get out of the car, and mess with everything inside the little office — bathrooms, telephones, scissors, you name it. Soon the frustrated policeman would tell him to go away and take his little devils with him!

Back to my friend’s story. Sure enough, after a little while, the exasperated family upped and left the pool, leaving the precious noodles to the “victors.” The grandmother, upon seeing this, began to celebrate in a loud voice, saying, “Didn’t I tell you? They left! It works every time!” Not quite. The family that was there first could have complained. They could have gone to management. Or, they could be the owners of the noodles!

So the grandmother was not only teaching her grandchildren that bullying is cool, she was also saying that it always works. She was affirming in no uncertain terms that the world is to the strongest and you can always bet that the ones less familiar with the game will back away. She was shouting to her grandchildren that intimidation is better than communication and worse of all, she was training them to ridicule those who had been unjustly treated, as if they were to be faulted for breaking under pressure.

I submit to you that this Grandmother was laying the groundwork for the making of violent people. Worse yet: her behavior is the garden where many criminal minds were planted. She ought to have her head examined and I would be willing to scream that in her ears.

So here is my final question: did T. J. Lang ever have a grandmother or an adult-figure who behaved like that in his dark past? I am willing to bet he did! Sadly.

Ivanildo C. Trindade