I mentioned in the previous post that no adults in my life were aware of the bullying I was doing. I did get in trouble for bullying once, though—only I had no idea that bullying was what I was doing!
I attended a K-8 Catholic school for three years. When I was in the seventh grade, the father of a first-grader called my mother. He said his son said he was being bullied, and he gave my name as one of the offenders.
When Mom told me who it was, I couldn’t believe it. I knew exactly who she was talking about. The little boy’s name was Jon, and a couple of my friends and I would find ourselves on the sidewalk with him when it was time for everyone to be picked up at the end of the day. We—all of us—would frequently speak to him. “Hey Jon, what’s up? Gimme 5! (slap) All right!” That kind of thing. You know what I mean? Maybe a little loudly; maybe a little animatedly? None of us thought we were doing anything but being a little guy’s buddy.
Well, turns out he was terrified. He didn’t understand why we were talking to him. The whole time he was interacting with us, he was apparently just trying to end the encounter before something bad happened. We were stressing him out big-time and had no idea.
I tried to explain this to Mom. She was having none of it. She wagged her finger at me and told me how disappointed she was, and she better never get another call of that nature. I had done nothing wrong, but there was little point in trying to argue.
So I stayed away from Jon from then on. I’d evidently been rather inept at communicating to that point, so I couldn’t reasonably risk an explanation or an apology.
Jon, on the off-chance you’re reading: I’m sorry I scared you. I really, truly didn’t mean to.