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

[Part 1 of this childhood story is here.]

The next time Karl started hassling me was in class a few days later.

He sat a row in front of me and turned around to torment me, the quiet girl named Alice, by mocking my name in a sing-song fashion: “Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland.”

I was mad.

Following my father’s advice I turned to Karl and said loudly: “So who are you? The March Hare?”

As fate would have it, our teacher, Miss Thomas, a maiden lady [as they used to say to describe unmarried women over 50], was standing at the end of my row.

She was a known disciplinarian, seemingly devoid of whimsy.

However, my adult putdown of a kid who she knew was going to be trouble for years to come caught her off guard, and she burst out laughing.  At which point the rest of my class joined her in laughing at red-faced Karl, former bully turned class buffoon, thanks to a few well said words at the right time.

Thank you, Daddy.

From this experience I learned three valuable lessons that have stayed with me to this day:

  1. Words have power;
  2. If you can make people laugh, you can make a point;  and
  3. Bullies are weaklings who you can take down, one way or another, if you just apply yourself to making them look like fools in front of their peers.

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Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted most days.

63 thoughts on “How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 2 of 2]”

    1. bobcabkings, good point. I never thought about the issue of credibility. Obviously after the class laughed at Karl he had none, which might be why this kid avoided me for the next 12 years of school.

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  1. Worth the wait! The best part of it is that he most likely had no idea what you were asking, but knew completely that he now looked ridiculous to the class. I’m too slow to process what is cracked at me to be quick with a reply, thankfully as I’ve gotten older, it’s happened less.

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    1. w1nt3l, I was only sort of aware of what I was asking, but I’m sure Karl had no idea. Our teacher, however, knew exactly what I was saying. If she hadn’t heard what I said, I doubt that this comeback would have been as effective. But she did, and Karl backed down. 😉

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  2. I think a major win came about because your teacher was involved. Her laughter, rather the other kids and Karl had a clue about the meaning, allowed everyone to finally stick it to Karl. If a teacher could laugh at him, anything was possible and that bully was goin’ down 🙂

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    1. Oh Deb, that’s exactly what happened. I doubt that I was the only kid Karl was bullying, so when this mean old teacher laughed at him, he was done. It’s a funny story in retrospect, but at the time Karl was a big problem for me. I was such a shy girl back then.

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    1. Bun Karyudo, my dad knew how to deal with people, both in a kind way & in a direct way… as evidenced by this piece of advice. I agree with you. I’d love to see HRC use a well-timed putdown to put The Donald in his place forever. So sick of him.

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    1. nancy, I can only imagine the lengthy professorial vitriolic diatribe my dad would go on about The Donald. Dad was a conservative in the true sense of the word. He’d be appalled to see what the Party of Lincoln has devolved into. In fact, considering how much he respected smart women, he might be a Democrat by now.

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  3. I like that your dad, who undoubtedly put some thought into your eventual retort, came up with the March Hare rather than the Mad Hatter. Because, obviously, to a gradeschooler, the Mad Hatter still sounds tough (mad as in angry vs. mad as in crazy), whereas a hare is a bunny rabbit. Even if Karl heard it as “hair”, it still sounds weak and would undoubtedly confuse him, as would any defense from one of his victims.

    Kid stuff, yes. But we are all so impressionable at that age.

    (And my father gave me the Power Of Words, too.)

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    1. nance, you’ve written a well-reasoned critique of what must have been Dad’s logic. He always had some reasoning behind anything he said or did. Funny that as an adult I’ve never, ever stopped to think about why he went with March Hare, instead of the Mad Hatter. Thank you for giving me an insight into a man I only knew as a child. Much appreciated.

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  4. Some bullies (and the Donald is probably one of them) just never seem to get it. And while I love your dad’s advice and that it worked so well this time, I can’t forget that some bullies are violent. Probably not a big risk in kindergarten. In a way, maybe the violent ones are easier to deal with – at least most people can see them for who they are. The Karls of the world sometimes develop a following and become leaders in their little school cliques. I wonder what Trump was like as a kid.

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    1. Zazamataz, I’m sure that you’re right in that some bullies are too narcissistic + amoral to even understand why they are considered a bully.

      I also agree about knowing your bully’s propensity for violence before making fun of him or her with words. Right now, as an adult, I live a bully-free existence, but considering the vitriol that The Donald has stirred up, I’m not saying much of anything to anyone. Which suits me, the introvert, just fine. 😉

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  5. Good for you! And good for your teacher, too. I had an equally cool teacher in 8th grade. The kid who sat behind me was a mess, always disrupting the class and always, always bugging me. This particular day he would. not. stop. pulling my long hair. It was late in the school year. All of us and especially I had endured him for too long. I told him to leave my hair alone. He persisted, and I snapped, picked up my algebra book and whapped him right out of his seat. Mrs. Lippert, a known terror of a teacher, and the entire class laughed uproariously. He never bugged me, or that class, again and I got off scot-free. God, these days I would have been sent to an alternative campus!

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    1. bnzoot, I love this story! That kid deserved exactly what you gave him, and thank goodness your teacher let the whole “incident” slide. I bet every kid in your class went home that night telling your story, a cautionary tale about not. messing. with. strong. girls. Thanks for sharing it here.

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  6. My son told me he is getting bullied on the bus yesterday and so I’ve been patiently waiting to see if my advice to him matched your fathers. I was close, but your father’s advice was better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie P, I’m sorry to hear about your son’s difficulties. No kid should be bullied, but it happens. My father’s advice worked in my case, way back then, but whether it’d work in today’s world, who knows?

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    1. evilsquirrel13, Karl is very much like Biff. I have no idea whatever became of him, but if his calling in life turned out to be washing cars, then I hope he’s polite while he’s doing it.

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    1. In My Cluttered Attic, funny how this experience has stayed with me over the years. Words had power, words still have power. A constant variable in life, at least.

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  7. What you did is what we are trained to help kids do in bullying situations: assert some power over the situation and get the spectators on your side. You(and your dad) were way ahead of your time!

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        1. Margaret, it sure did. Considering the time & place in which this incident occurred, I’m rather amazed. I must have learned something from Karl because I remember him to this day!

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  8. Nicely done. I was also tortured for my name as a kid. My legal name is Julie, but, my mother always filled in the forms at school as Juliet. I have never gone by the name Juliet, so whatever. And we moved a lot, so every year it seemed like a new school, which meant every year, stupid kids like Karl would follow me around saying, “Where’s Romeo?” I hated it. When I finally discovered that my legal name wasn’t even Juliet, I asked my mom WHY she filled in the school paperwork every year, she said, “I don’t know, I liked the name…”

    Sigh.

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    1. J, I can imagine how frustrating that was for you as a kid. At least my name was my name, even if Karl did make fun of it! Thinking back on your mother’s blog, I can only chuckle at the absurdity of it all. She was an alpha free spirit if there ever was one… Juliet. 😉

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        1. Oh J, I do. Your Mom was wise and supportive when I was starting out as a blogger. I thought of her this past summer. Can you imagine how apoplectic she’d be about today’s political scene?

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  9. I have a few memories from kindergarten that have always stayed with me. Not about bullying, but about seemingly random things that when I look back on them reveal to me aspects of my budding personality. Must be a pivotal year.

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    1. Nancy, that’s interesting. I remember random things about 1st grade, but most of kindergarten is a blur except this incident with Karl. Funny to think back to who we were as little kids, and then who we became because of it… or in spite of it?! 😉

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    1. Mary Lou, I’m sorry to hear about your glasses. I lived in fear that my glasses would get broken like that, but my reality was that I was such a klutz that I managed to break them all by myself! I’m amazed by how pervasive the “just ignore ’em” motherly advice seemed to be back then. Thank goodness today’s girls are encouraged to be braver than we were.

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    1. Stephanie, I agree. My dad knew that for sure, but I’m not as good as he was at having the perfect comeback. Still, in this one moment years ago, I learned a good lesson that has stayed with me for life.

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  10. Great story – great advice. Kids used to be taught this strategy in our neighborhood. A quick wit was much admired and applauded all the way through high school. But then people admired intellect and education and figured the ones that had it would come out on top of the pile as life went on.
    …but in jr high, being 2-3 years younger than all the others was hard. I did find though that a quick turn and sharp kick in the shins stopped anyone from walking up behind me in the hall and stepping on the back of my loafers trying to get me to fall down…only had to do it once.
    (Mother despaired of me – I was just not traditional girl-ish in my problem solving methods)

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    1. philmouse, I like your kick to the shins approach. In a world where smarts aren’t valued it seems much more in the moment and impactful, than a snappy retort. I can see that under those circumstances it’d be useful. 😉

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