It’s always hard to give kids advice about bullying. In my day the answer was real simple: ¡dale unos buenos chingasos pa’ que ya no se meta contigo! Tempting as this advice might be for me to give, también sé that this day and age that’s just not going to fly anymore. You never know what that could lead to and if you’re kid will be the one that comes out more affected than the bully. And the fact of the matter is it’s just not the same when you are a boy being bullied. We are expected to be able to fend for ourselves, to know just what to do to stop a bully, to give them a good punch in the ribs without being seen or catching them after school when no teachers are around. The thing is it isn’t always that simple.
For me, the advantage was that I had an older brother who was much tougher than me, y por supuesto much more feared than me by others. Still, my goal was always to take care of my own problems without having to involve him at all. I didn’t want him fighting my fights!
That kid that gave me my first real beating at 12 can vouch for that.
There was no way I was going to have mi hermano jump in and fight him for me – besides by this time he had already grown tired of always having to stick up for me; I know because he told me – so instead there I went trying my best to throw my punches guajoloteros all over the place and just being pushed up against the wired fence around our dirty green pool at the Bali Hai apartments. As much as I fought back, he was stronger than me, and after about five minutes of getting my head knocked around from one side to the other he grew tired and just left me there breathing all hard and angry at how I’d just been humiliated in front of all my friends. I walked away with my head in shame, but for the first time he (my brother) looked at me like he was just so damn proud of me for fighting my own pleito.
After that I learned to not get into a fight willingly with anyone bigger than me.
My brother, on the other hand, looked at any opportunity to fight with someone bigger than himself as a chance to prove how strong and tough he was. One time when we were both in middle school, a group of cholillos cornered me in the gym and were just about to beat me up for not having any money to give them – I rode the bus on a free pass and my allowance at this grade level was still the same as it had always been, a dollar a week if I was lucky – when in comes mi hermano. He didn’t threaten any of them or say anything to them. Instead he just walked in, looked around, and then asked me with a quick lift of the chin “what’s up?” I nodded my head from right to left a couple of times and everyone backed away. He waited in there with me while I got all my stuff together and we walked out. After that they knew whose brother I was and nobody ever messed with me again.
For as much as I hated his “tough guy” ways, they sure did come in handy when I needed them.
Nowadays the recommendations range from speaking up against bullying, walking away, telling an adult about it, or just traveling in packs to avoid being cornered like I was. Instead of the chingasos comment that wants to slip out of my mouth I’ve often gone for the “tell your teacher” approach… then again, if I’m being completely honest, I have also recommended a good push every once in while. La mera verdad is the problem has thankfully never been that serious, but as many of you already know bullying is definitely a serious issue.
This blog post is a personal account and in no way is meant to make light of the seriousness of bullying. For more information and resources about bullying and how to help a child who is being bullied visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/.
Juan, growing up in the Bronx I’ve been in the exact same situations, on both sides of the fence. As much as bullying has changed, it’s also remained the same. There’s no one size fits all for bullies – you gotta deal with many forms and there’s many ways to deal with it.
One thing I did learn was that if you fight back with all you have, even if the bully got the best of you, he usually won’t return for more, but then sometimes he comes back with five more guys and then what? Life can suck sometimes. yes?
Thanks for sharing this slice of your life…
Gracias Dan por el comment. We had to learn one way or another, and as I always say now… sometimes the beatings are just a part of the process of growing up. Though I did definitely learn how to deal with these bullies al paso del tiempo.
I truly enjoyed reading through your blog,, for the first time. Please send me notifications for new posts. Thank you, Kay.