Amazing Kids! Magazine

Standing Up in Times of Sitting Down

By Drake Fiorenza, grade 8, Ohio

 

Recess—the best time for a kid the age of seven. The only time to unwind and do mischievous deeds with no consequences. As I had rushed out the open doors, I could feel the nice, crisp breeze of spring hit my face. My friends and I had only one thing on our minds as we pushed through the stampede of devilish children crouching in front of the equipment shed. That one thing was getting the toys we needed to play with. As I came out with my stockpile of toys, a kid who was older than me came whizzing by, kneed me in the stomach, and slapped my items down. I stood there shocked and confused. After seconds of being trapped in the endless void of my mind, I brushed myself off and took it as an accident. Indeed, it was not an accident but the start of an awakening inside of myself caused by a well-known word across the school system: bullying.

A couple days later, as I paced the millions of aisles in the library, looking for a new book to get lost in, something caught my eye. In the doorframe directly in front of me, the kid whom I had a run-in with was pushing another kid into a wall. It wasn’t a light tap or a friendly push. The kid was getting smashed into the wall. So, I wanted to check out this brutal scene. I carefully glided across the carpet floor on my toes to not be seen. But my attempt was unsuccessful. The kid whipped right around at me like something straight from Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry and spoke in a raspy, typical bully voice from a ‘90s movie.

“What are you looking at, weirdo?”

I threw an insult right back, “Wow, you really hurt me with your preschool vocab.”

He then flung me through the air with a single push. He continued to call me names as I struggled to gain strength to stand up. From all my days of watching cartoons, I knew that bad words should be bleeped out; with that knowledge, all I heard him yell was, “Bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep!” When he left the room, I ran into the corner and started crying. I didn’t know what I was crying for exactly. Was it the pain of him pushing me or the awful words he blurted from his brain the size of a pea? I didn’t know; I just kept crying.

Racked with fear of the recent attack, I got on the bus to go home. I knew my mom would be waiting for me, ready to give the best hugs and make me the best snacks known to mankind. Then as my hopes were getting higher and higher, a bouncy ball came hurling at my forehead and smacked me right in the eye. Pain shot through me. I thought my eye would fall out. Then a kid who looked like a mix of a dog and a boxer after a fight came up to me. His face was rough like sandpaper, and he had elongated ears just like those of a bat. “You like that shot? Bam! Right on target. Scoot over, nerd.” He then put me in a headlock and kept on making noises into my ear. He then proceeded to call me names and make fun of my appearance while keeping me in the headlock.

I blanked out. The only thought swirling through my innocent mind was, why. Why is this happening? What did I do? Please make it stop. My stop came after what felt like an eon. I sprinted off, with my neck spasming every second in immense pain. I ran into the house and saw my mom.

“Hi, honey, how was your…” She could only get through half her sentence before I was long gone into my room to dry out every square inch of water in my eyeballs.

The next morning, I woke up at five in the morning. The only thing I could hear was a bird chirping while collecting worms to provide for his family. I wish I was that bird, so I could fly away leaving behind the spiral of strangeness we call life. I walked into the bathroom as the words the bat kid said wrapped around my brain and whispered into my ears. I remembered a harsh comment about my hair that he made, and I started ripping my hair, follicle from follicle. I started thinking that if I got rid of my bad features, he wouldn’t make fun of me. I took my bottle of axe spray and kept pushing the trigger and pointed it at every crevice of my body. I thought I smelled like a meadow full of tulips, but there was a cloud of axe smell following me like gnats to a sweaty person. This feeling that came about me was overwhelming me. Every time I looked in the mirror, I hated a new part of myself. I didn’t know the word then, but I know it now. That word haunts mostly everyone in the world. That word is insecurity.

After a week of nonstop mirror checking and being made fun of, I had been a mess. I didn’t care about recess anymore and didn’t want to talk to my family or friends anymore. Class was especially boring that day. Mrs. Bertz was just reading a book I had read a few years back. She didn’t even pick a good one. But I didn’t want class to end. I wanted it to go forever because I didn’t want to face the bat kid on the bus. But just like everything else, the facade of things lasting forever always fades away when you need them the most. Ding, ding, ding! There goes the bell. The little rascals of classmates I had were so eager to get home that they were tripping over their own feet on the way out. I got on the bus and dragged my feet to my seat. “Hey, there’s Dork Fiorenza.” I could hear the bat kid’s voice screaming at me from the back of the bus. He slid up into my seat like a snake. He started to dig at my emotions with the words again. Then I felt something from within. Some weird feeling that I could feel coursing through me, making me want to scream and stretch my mind across the world. It was rage. I turned to the bat kid with my face as red as a strawberry. I stood up, and as if it was synchronized, he stood up at the same time. All the kids from the back stopped talking to see what was going to happen. “What? You sick of me? Sorry, but this is your seat, and you can’t move.” His words just made my rage stronger. He started laughing and snarling at me like some twisted devil of a man. The rage just burst out of me at that moment. I took my right fist and planted it right into his throat. He fell backwards, and the kids from the back were all shocked as he hit the ground. He cursed as he got his air back and ran right back to his old seat. I felt great. I got home shortly after and greeted my mom with a kiss. The next day, no one bothered me at school. I thought to myself as I ate lunch, all I had to do was just stick up for myself. I had channeled my anger to help myself. I felt tougher that day, like I could lift a car. No one was going to mess with me—no one.

Later on, I told my mom what happened, and she called the school. She was furious. I had never seen her that mad ever. I spoke to the principal, and she said that they punished the kid and said that I would never be bothered again. Phew! I felt so great that I called up my friend Payton right as I got home. He told me to come over, so I did, and I was shocked by what I found as I walked up to his house. The house next to him was bad news. The bat kid was watering some plants in the front yard. He walked in the front door, and before it shut, I heard him yell, “Mom, Mom!” He lives there! I sprinted into my friend’s house. I immediately asked him about the kid. My friend said he was pretty nice, but his dad had left them and moved to Arizona, and the kid was pretty shaken. Payton and I talked about him for hours. It helped me get closure to know more about the kid who had bullied me. It was nice to know that the kid who had caused my insecurities had some of his own.

A couple months later, I found out that the mom and the dad got back together and the bat kid, whose name was Randy, had to move to Arizona. The day before he left, I saw him playing basketball outside his house. I walked up and started introducing myself. He immediately stopped me and quickly said, “I know who you are, Fiorenza. And I’m sorry. My parents had been together my whole life, and things fell apart after, and I was mad; so I got a couple friends, and we started to take it out on you little guys.” I didn’t say anything. I picked up the ball and started to shoot with him. We just played for a couple of hours not saying anything to each other because we knew that it changed us for the better. For him, it made him realize that he had to fix his own problems before taking them out on others. And for myself, it taught me to stick up and realize my feelings are valuable. It taught me to use my anger only when I had to. But it taught me to forgive others, too. These are the principles I live by today, thanks to a boy who looked like a bat.