My mother battled the neighborhood bully and won

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

Bullying is when someone hurts you or makes you feel small on purpose. They might call you names, threaten to hurt you, or cause problems for you at school. Sometimes people think that bullying is just teasing, but it isn’t.

There are different types of bullying, too. There is verbal bullying, which includes name-calling and threats. Social bullying includes leaving people out and spreading rumors about them. Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet or their phone to threaten, embarrass, or harass somebody.

Then there’s physical bullying, like pelting someone with rocks.

Although my mother rarely talked about her childhood, she brought up this memory once in a while when I was growing up, and I always found it humorous to hear the tale of how two little girls took down a neighborhood bully and lived.

I don’t know about you, but my mom has been dealing with bullies her whole life. Back in 1953, when she and her sister were still kids themselves, there was this kid around the neighborhood who made their lives miserable.

My mother and her sister often cut through a nearby park to avoid walking past his house, where he regularly stood on the sidewalk and taunted everyone who passed by with words that would make any reasonable person cringe.

They were walking through the park one fall day when they suddenly found themselves being pelted with rocks. They heard laughter from their attacker, who was hiding in a tree above them and laughing himself silly at his game.

The bully had filled his pockets with rocks, which he gleefully launched in their direction. He was laughing so hard that tears streamed down his face.

My mother looked at her younger sister. “Let’s shake him out of the tree,” she said.

Her sister didn’t hesitate.

The girls crossed the short distance with a sense of purpose and determination. They were tired of being bullied and eager for revenge against the boy who had wronged them so deeply. It only seemed fitting that these spirited young girls would shake things up at their first chance, and that’s exactly what they did.

The bully hit the ground with a satisfying thud and lay there motionless, pockets still bulging with yet-to-be-thrown rocks.

My mother and her sister were both convinced that they had killed the bully. So they did the only thing they could do. They ran home and pledged never to speak of him again.

The boy wasn’t in school the following Monday morning.

Likewise, he wasn't in school on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

By the time he showed up at school again on Friday, they had almost completely forgotten about him. Or maybe their new bully-free existence was so wonderful that it just made them not care anymore?

From that moment forward, the bully studiously avoided them. His eyes filled with fear as soon as he spotted them.

It didn’t take long before all the other kids in the neighborhood noticed the difference in the former bully’s changed demeanor. Soon, no one was afraid of him anymore, and life went on as if nothing had ever happened.

Only my mother and her sister knew the truth.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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