Bully for All Seasons

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My 14-year-old son recently struggled a few nights with insomnia. I soon learned from this bleary-eyed teenager that a school bully had called him out again.

"I had a big fight with him last year, Dad," he says. At six-foot-three, my kid's the tallest student at middle school. I affectionately call him Long-board but the height also draws the occasional bully. A yard monitor noticed the bully throw the first punch. The altercation stopped after my boy landed a few hits and absorbed a kick near the groin.

Long-board figures he can beat the bully this time, but he's scared it will hurt.

"It will hurt," I tell him, but promise not to tell his principal. He's afraid school peers will call him a wimp if I do. Instead, I ask his gym teacher to watch out for my son and trouble on the QT.

I fret about weapons. My kid assures me the jerk uses just his fists and feet, nothing else.


Fight day arrives. I learn that my son's best friend has told the bully he will have to fight him also, right after his bout with tall guy. No punches thrown. Problem is solved for now, except that I seem to have inherited the insomnia.

It's three in the morning and I obsess about my own bully who has been hanging around my governmental work site, has started maligning my job performance to supervisors. How bad will my position, reputation, be hurt by this jerk? Will filing out a hostile work environment form make me look like a whiner?

Middle-school jumps to middle-aged mind. I grin despite my desperate thoughts.

Too bad I can't have my best friend convince my bully to back down. I could snore as soundly as Long-board now does.

With a Perspective, I'm John Dorrance.