12. September 2022
Family , Parenting
In 1990, my wife and I were stationed in Germany with our daughters, Becka and Rachel, who were 5 and 3 years old respectively. Our two girls would play in the back yard behind our apartment, but every once in a while, the little boy across the street would come over and yell at Rachel to make her cry. Whenever my wife or I would run outside to see what was happening, the little boy would be trotting gleefully back across the street to his parents, who would pick him up and look at my wife and me with a shrug of their shoulders and a patronizing half-smile as if to say, "Boys will be boys." Their son was an only child, and he was quite clearly a spoiled brat.
I sat Rachel down one day when she was crying after the little boy's last attack, and I explained that the boy was a bully. I told Rachel that when he came over the next time, she needed to jump up and scream in his face as loudly as possible before he had a chance to do anything. Sure enough, a few days later we heard Rachel screaming at the top of her lungs, and we ran outside to see the little boy crying and running home to his parents, who were eyeing Kathleen and me with a look of horror on their faces. I gave them a sarcastic half-smile and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "Girls will be girls."
But the best part was Rachel's reaction; as she watched that bawling brat run home to safety, her face was aglow with a combination of shocked surprise and total elation. She turned to look at me and said, "I did it! I yelled at him and he ran away!" At that moment, I realized that my daughter would never fall victim to a bully ever again. I may have taught her how to stand up to our neighbor's bratty kid, but she had won this battle entirely on her own. She was empowered.
I should add, however, that the spoiled, little brat briefly paused in his withdrawal to look back at Rachel, who made her point undeniably by unleashing another round of high-powered war cries, and the sniveling little coward made good on his retreat and vanished into the safety of his home. He never bothered Rachel again.