The Day I Beat Up a Boy In School

“She did WHAT?!”

No way… to him?!”

I can’t believe it!”

The rumor mill ran rapid as the day went on – the friendly, straight-A, girl in class had beat up the class bully.

Earlier that day at recess, I was talking excitedly with friends while we waited for our turn on the monkey bars when a little boy with short brown hair and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt caught my glance. He was my younger brother, Justin. Justin, although a very normal-looking boy, had been diagnosed with Autism at the tender age of two. He was playfully running after a soccer ball that had been kicked by a few of the older boys that were in my class. He was grinning ear-to-ear and had a skip to his step as he caught up and picked up the soccer ball from against the fence. I smiled when I saw that the other boys seemed to be running after him, playing with him. But suddenly, I realized they were yelling at him.

Even from my distance, I could tell  my brother was startled. He quickly dropped the ball and tried kicking it back to them, missing by an inch – the smile still plastered to his face. But the yelling didn’t stop. The one leading the pack and seemingly the loudest was a boy I sat next to in the classroom. I had already developed a disdain for him. He was known for being a bully.

Without thinking of the consequences, I tore away from my friends and began bolting across the field. I didn’t notice their protests if there were any. All I could see was the boy yelling into my brother’s face while the others stood and watched. Then I got close enough to hear what he was yelling.

“- you can’t play with us, stupid! You retard! You can’t even kick the ball!” There were a few chuckles from his friends.

So many of them that had surrounded my brother that I couldn’t see him anymore. It was clear to me who the antagonist was so  I shouted his name when I came up behind him. “Hey! You leave my brother alone! He can play if he wants!”

The snickering around me turned to nervous laughter when they noticed my presence. The boy turned around, rolled his eyes and replied back, “What are you going to do, Jenni?”

But I hardly heard him. I took one look over his shoulder into the broken crowd of boys to see my small and innocent little brother with tears running face, looking as though he didn’t know what to do. And I snapped.

Next thing I knew, my fist was flying into the boy’s face.

He hit the ground and blood came streaming down from his nose. The response was silence. The teacher’s pet who made cookies for her classroom and read to kindergardeners in the mornings just lost her cool. And she hit the meanest boy in class. He was wiping the blood from his nose with his shirt now, whimpering. With adrenaline still coursing through my veins, I decided to add, “That’s what you get.”

“Jennifer!”

And there was my mother, the noon-aid. The real danger. I could see her drinking in the situation and putting the pieces of the puzzle together pretty quickly. Justin was taken back to his special education teachers to do some arts and crafts, the boy was escorted to the nurse’s office, and my own mother sent me to the principal’s office. Pft… the nerve!

In the end, I had to spend my recesses in detention for the next week and suffer the glare of the boy from across the room when the teacher moved us away from each other. Today, I’d probably be expelled or suspended under the same circumstances, but these were the days when dodgeball wasn’t banned and I could wear an American flag on my t-shirt without running the risk of being sent home.

The point of telling this story isn’t to promote violence or to excuse the way I handled the situation because… let’s be honest… I shouldn’t have hit him. I’m telling this story to show that the way we treat others indirectly affects everyone around us as well. The golden rule is treat others the way you wish to be treated. Nobody wants to be bullied. Try to put yourself in the other’s shoes before passing judgment of a situation or being quick to put someone in their place. Everyone has a different story.

Over a decade later, the boy contacted me to extend an apology to my brother and I. And I apologized for making him cry. (Just kidding.) It’s amazing how things can come back around.

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”

– Jenni

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