How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

40 thoughts on “How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

  1. Sigh. How many kids–including me–got that incredibly UN-helpful advice of “just ignore him/her”? It never, ever worked, and it’s actually the wrong advice as the current research shows.

    As a matter of fact, I used to get that advice so often about so many irksome things that I am unable to ignore ANYTHING. No matter what is irritating me, I have to act immediately to try and mitigate it. Childhood…it’s a wonder any of us survives it in some cases.

    Liked by 4 people

    • nance, a thousand times YES! “Just ignore it” was my mother’s go-to solution which did not help me with most of my problems. She meant well. Interesting that current research shows what I figured out as I grew up. I agree about any of us surviving childhood. It was a stressful time.

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  2. I’ve covered my bully experiences quite in depth on my blog. It shaped my childhood in a way that I resent now. I was always envious of other kids/adults that could use words as shields and weapons against others that weren’t as adept at doing so. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30’s that I harnessed that power. I’m definitely looking forward to the next part!

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    • w1nt3l, I think many of us were bullied in small and large ways when we were kids. As an adult I still get flummoxed from time-to-time when someone starts to be a bully/bigot/misogynist/racist, but overall I am able to say STOP and mean it. “Play nice or go home.” ‘Ya know?

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  3. Looking forward to hearing his solution. My mom’s advice (and I’m afraid I said it to my girls too), was that if a guy was being mean to you, it meant he liked you, otherwise he wouldn’t pay any attention at all. I can see now that that’s just wrong.


    • You know, I heard that a lot too when I was growing up. I imagine there’s some truth to it, but at some point “liking” turns to “bullying” and must be addressed… as Karl found out. 😉

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  4. It wasn’t quite ignore them, it was more ignore what was happening as in to acknowledge it fed the beast. Equally useless because if there is one quality I’ve noticed in all bullies it’s that they are relentless. They don’t just give up when they don’t get a reaction from you; if anything, it seemed to feed the fire. Can’t wait to find out how it ends!

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    • bnzoot, you’re right, bullies live for a reaction from you– and feed on the anger you feel towards them when you react. Of course, in kindergarten I wasn’t aware of what was going on. All I knew was that this kid was a nuisance… and I did not like him at all.

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  5. Oh gosh…can’t wait to hear! When I was in elementary school, a kid named James Looney kept calling me “Stephanie Faris Wheel.” Real original. I told my dad about it and all he said was, “You said his last name is LOONEY?” He told me to call him “James Looney Tunes.” Now that I’m an adult, though, I can see the hilarity in a kid with a last name of Looney making fun of another kid’s last name!


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    • Stephanie, that’s a hilarious story. What are the odds that Miss Faris and Master Looney would know each other? Your dad’s advice was spot on… and similar to what my dad told me to do.


  6. I can’t wait to read what you did. When I was in kindergarten, a classmate broke his arm. I felt so bad for him that I kissed him to make it all better. And he hit me over the head with his cast. LOL, lesson learned.

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  7. I am looking forward to part 2 and the helpful advice from your father. I got teased a lot – for much the same reasons as you – but never really thought of it as bullying. I got the same advice from my mom which was just as unhelpful for me. bnzoot makes a good point. I often advised people to trust their instincts. If you don’t feel safe, trust your gut. Seems like we often tell kids, in essence, not to trust themselves.

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    • Zazamataz, I got teased, too, and I’m sure did my share of teasing. But this kid had an agenda [I say as an adult]. He was looking for trouble because, I suspect, that’s all he knew at home. I agree with both you and bnzoot that we need to tell kids to trust their instincts about people. Not everyone is a good guy.


      • What I mean is, that I’m not sure I knew the difference. Looking back, some of those girls were mean girls in the bully sense. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to fit in and I wish I would have known that I didn’t need to fit in with those girls.


        • Zaz, you said it. I wanted to be part of the cool girls, but they were often times mean. I wanted to fit in, but was too shy/cerebral to force my way into their cliques. Now I see how it all was, but back then…


  8. Pingback: How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 2 of 2] – THE SPECTACLED BEAN

    • Margaret, I remember feeling that way, too. It wasn’t so much that I was small as much as it was that I needed my glasses to see & kids would grab for them. *four eyes, four eyes*


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