I’ll never forget watching my daughter be bullied. We had just walked into a skating rink for a birthday party. We were not two feet in the door when a large, boisterous girl came up to my daughter and said, “Hi, Bucky.”
My daughter spent the first eight years of her life sucking her thumb. I painted it with vile-tasting liquid. I put band aids on it. All to no avail. When she finally stopped sucking it, the damage was done. So, her teeth protruded.
My other daughter had perfect teeth, thanks to an orthodontist. She was bullied for questioning traditional Judeo-Christian religion. They told her if she didn’t believe in Jesus, she was going to hell. Her answer: I’ll save you a seat on the bus.
I can’t remember the reason I was bullied. Maybe there doesn’t need to be a reason. I remember two girls who made my life pretty challenging at Brookfield High School. One of the girls was huge. I’m 5’10” and she towered over me. I can’t remember her name; I don’t care enough to look it up in a yearbook.
The other girl was smaller, skinnier, with a pinched face. I only saw her smile when she taunted me. I do remember her name. These girls made fun of me for liking school. They made fun of me for wearing a miniskirt to a dance. They promised me a black eye. They were the mean girls. Maybe you know them too.
They were bullies. While I may not remember their names, I have given them a place of distinction. You’ll find a bully in every book I write. They are my villains, my antagonists.
Standing right next to them on the shelf of dishonor are bankers. In 2008, the banks were too big to fail. In 2013, we’re told the bankers are too big to jail. I’m not a financial expert. I only know what Stephen Colbert tells me. But I know this: if the federal government investigates you, your misdeeds are huge and sloppy.
I’m writing about bullies and bankers today because I’m only a few scenes away from finishing the first draft of my middle-grade novel. Toward the end of the book, my amazing main character, Josey, finally stands up to her bully, Andy. I’ve written the scene twice. In the first draft, she just goes crazy and attacks him, much like the movie, “A Christmas Story.” Now, I love this movie. I watch it every December 24th, but I don’t necessarily want to plagiarize it. So, yesterday, I rewrote the scene, but still, Josey used violence to stop Andy’s name calling.
Josey is an 11-year-old girl; Andy is a 12-year-old boy. If they were both boys, it would probably play out. But when I asked my daughters what they thought, they said that it wasn’t plausible. They said a girl would be more manipulative, more devious in her revenge. Josey doesn’t have a devious bone in her body. She’s not written that way.
I have a plan. I’m contacting a middle-school counselor in a local school today to ask: How do kids this age confront a bully? When they’ve had enough, when they cannot take the abuse anymore, what do kids do? I want to hear from kids themselves: Write2me@Annettedrake.com.