But in second grade, I was in a different state of mind. My teacher was a harda$$. She said I couldn't tie my jacket around my waist, that I had to tie it over my shoulders like some kind of baby WASP. She said I pronounced "aunt" wrong. (I didn't -- I pronounced it like white people say it.) She made me sit by her desk at all times. Oh, and I was flunking out of second grade. I can look back now, as an adult and a mom and a former teacher, and see that second grade me was overwhelmed. But when you're a little kid sitting at a little desk and the "incompletes" and "Fs" and notes home about how much you suck start piling up, it's easy to rebel. So I turned bad. Super bad.
Terrible. I'm cringing at the memory as I write this. But shame on Mrs. Dummy for giving a showoff bad girl a great setup for physical comedy at the expense of a bullied barely fat kid. Because this interaction -- the walk that I made to the poor classmate -- took about 10 freaking minutes to happen. Mrs. Uglybutt gave up on waiting and kept teaching class about cursive or whatever as I made micro-steps across the room. The whole class watched, enthralled. Every inch forward got a laugh.
When I finally got to this poor, harassed child, I acted like my arms weighed like planets as I lifted them. I'd like to think I gently whispered "I'm so sorry" as I gave the boy my horrible hug, but I was really glorying in all the attention. In fact I made a crying face and wrapped my arms around him like he was a beach ball, not actually touching him whatsoever. Hilarious. Not only were there no consequences for being a complete jerk, but I turned the whole episode into a way to get attention and avoid my work, which was what I really wanted in the first place. It was a terrible lesson.
So if you're a parent and your kid is getting picked on, of course you should do something about it. But if you're a parent and you find out your own kid is the one teasing other kids, dig deeper. There's an amazing chance they're struggling with other stuff. It's like the one thing Hollywood gets right about bullies -- there's almost always a crap stew happening in a bully's head or home or karate class.
Which brings me to my next point ...