Saturday, June 25, 2011

Standing Up for Others

"Hey that's mine!"

I watched from a distance as Sean's face filled with dismay.  His little cheeks were red and his lower lip stuck out in an angry pout.  He glared at the 6 year old boy who had run up to him and snatched his beloved Buzz Lightyear right out of his hands, smirking and saying, "Ha! I got your toy!"

We were at the small playground on our apartment grounds.  It was a fair size, never crowded with children, and I usually let Bruce run off leash since it was gated and he was great with kids of all ages.  The location of the playground was chosen wisely as we never once had the sun beat down on us.  Or maybe it was just because I only took them there when the sun was lower in the day.  
Today there were three other children at the playground... and no adult in sight other than myself.  Two of the children, a boy and girl, appeared to be siblings around the ages of 7 or 8.  They looked alike and played with each other.  The third child was 6; I found that out later.  This third child, a boy, was by himself and seemed to cope with his solitude not by playing nicely with the other two kids who were closer to his age but by immediately sailing to mine who were 4 and 2.  

He was a scrawny looking boy with a very unique haircut.  His head was shaved except for the bangs, which were long and dirty blonde.  He wore a pair of faded blue jeans which were ripped at the knee and a black t-shirt.  All that was missing was the earring.  He was a cute looking boy with bright blue eyes and a smile that I'm sure would melt any heart around if it wasn't permanently formed into a smirk.  He was the playground bully.

He tried to bully Caden by grabbing his plastic robot, which Caden named Crisco (please don't ask why, I have no idea).  But his attempt failed when Caden smiled and said, "You can play with it.  He's cool!"  And the bully just left him alone.  I felt a bit proud of Caden then, seeing that instead of fighting with the boy he avoided trouble by being nice to him.  So the bully moved on.  To Sean.

He ran to Sean, who was just coming off the slide happily clutching his Buzz Lightyear toy, and snatched that toy right from his hands.  When Sean announced his dislike for such an act, the boy fed off this and taunted him saying, "Ha!  I took your toy!"

Instead of rushing to my little guy's rescue, I decided to observe.  I wanted to see not just how Sean would react but how Caden would.  And I was especially curious about the other two children who were there with the bully prior to our arrival.

I didn't have to wait long.  Sean chased the bully with tearful cries for his Buzz and the bully continued to run and laugh at him.  Finally, the girl stepped in the bully's way and said, "Hey, give that toy back to him!  Stop being such a bully!"

Immediately the boy tossed the toy aside and said, "Aw I was just playing with him."  He went on to playing by himself while Caden rushed to his toy.

I was amazed at this.  Caden, who is usually first to come to his brother's rescue, was too distracted by his own activities to check out the problem.  The girl and boy seemed to be talking to each other as the bully was attempting to mess with Caden and they continued to chat as he moved on to Sean.  And it was the girl who took the stand.  It was really interesting.

Most of us have experienced someone standing up for us at some point in our lives.  Maybe not a lot and maybe not recently.  But I'd be willing to bet we would all remember every occasion when it happened.  When I was in kindergarten, I always sat in the front row of the school bus on the way home because there weren't a many kids on the bus and my mom, who worked at an elementary school, was friends with the bus driver.  And there was this fifth grader who always picked on me.  She always told the bus driver that I wanted to be the one to open the door - and I never did!  I hated doing it.  I always felt like people were just watching me and if that handle was too hard to pull, they'd all get irritated with me for not letting them get out fast enough.

One day, I told her that I didn't want to do it.  She leaned up real close to my face and said, "If you don't do it, I'm going to stick a needle in your tongue!"  Friggin meanie!  I was so scared, looking at this crazy fifth grade bully who had big hair and pretty eyes.  I bet she became a friggin cheerleader too.

Anyway, Ben the bus driver, heard this and said, "Hey, get your ass to the back of the bus!  I'm not letting you bully other kids here.  I'm telling your parents what you just did."  He was my hero!  I felt like such a baby, hating to be rescued, but I felt as if he saved my life!  I never had any problems from that girl after that.

I watched as Sean sat in the grass playing with Buzz, smiling with his cheeks still tearstreaked.  I thought to myself, the world needs more people like that little girl.  We need more parents teaching their kids to stand up for others.  And we need to stand up for others more ourselves. Can you imagine what kind of world we'd live in if we stood up for people more often?  If we stood up for what was right?  If a little girl can stand up for a toddler, it tells me that we were born to love.  If she could recognize at the age of 8 that there was a need to stand up for someone else, then it tells me that everyone has that kind of courage inside of us.   I pray that when it's time for me to stand up for someone else, I will find in me what that little girl found in her and become a voice against hurtful actions.

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