When Pedro was younger, I used to worry that he would be bullied. He is in the lower portion of the 25th percentile. He’s tiny compared to other almost twelve-year-olds. Even his five-year-old sister, Kaitlyn, is almost as tall as him. Of course, she is very tall for her age. Over the years, my worry subsided. I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like Pedro. He makes friends quickly and and is a good friend to others. He genuinely cares about his peers. Adults adore him. He’s a little man, in every way. If you know Pedro in real life, you are smiling right now. I know you can’t help but to recall the times you’ve thought to yourself, who is little man in the tiny body? Pedro is wise beyond his years. He’s a joy. He is different. The best part about Pedro is that he enjoys being different. It took him some time to build up that kind of confidence, but he did. That confidence soared with the help of a special teacher.
Pedro wasn’t always confident. There was a time when Pedro wouldn’t go anywhere without me or his older brother, no matter how much fun he knew it might be. During that time, I was really concerned that Pedro would never ‘find himself.’ I didn’t want him to live vicariously through his older brother. I didn’t want him to be so attached to me that he wouldn’t get close to anyone else. I wanted him to experience all the great things a childhood should afford a little boy. Pedro overcame a lot of anxiety and insecurities to become the strong and fearless boy he is now. He is truly one of my heroes. And no, it’s not because he’s my son. He is intellectual, kind, intuitive, funny, generous, energetic, thoughtful, genuine, whimsical, and practical. He’s magic. Finally, he was starting to believe all those things about himself, too.
Pedro was happy and looking forward to sixth grade, which would be his final year of Elementary School. Since he was in a bilingual program, he spent his entire academic life with mostly the same classmates. Pedro had been with them since Kindergarten. In April, when we moved to a new house, we ended up just barely outside of our old School District. I tried to convince the old School District to let Pedro complete his final year of Elementary School with his peers. I begged. I pleaded. I cried. He was allowed to finish out the last two months of last year, but was not allowed to continue this year. Pedro cried most days over the Summer. He was devastated. Every day, I tried to motivate him to get excited about the new Chapter he would soon embark upon. Nothing worked.
When he started Middle School in our new District, some things went better than he expected. Pedro did make friends. Pedro did get some Teachers who understand him. Still, he constantly said he felt like his soul had been ripped away. That’s really how he felt. In fact, the new School Counselor described his grief as if Pedro were mourning a “death,” because heartache over being separated too soon from his peers, is so deep. Pedro wasn’t just in the same School as his peers. They were in the same class, all these years. He just wanted to finish Elementary School together. The bilingual class was a very close group.
On Friday, Pedro didn’t have School. He got to spend the day at his old School, assisting his favorite Teacher! He was so filled with joy. In the days leading up to that, he was happier than he’s been since the end of the last school year. By Saturday, he was devastated again. That’s when I found out the Middle School BULLY wants to fight Pedro!
NO! According to Pedro, just last Thursday, the bully was shoving Pedro, asking him if he wanted to fight, and taunting him with a chant; “I’m a Cholo. I’m a Cholo.” (as in, Mexican Gangster) Pedro acted out his own response for me. With his head looking down, he touched the boy’s shoulder gently and said, “come on bruh, I don’t want to fight with you. I don’t want to fight. Come on… we can just be cool.” Pedro avoided a fight on Thursday. But, Pedro said that minutes later, the bully starting swinging at another student. Apparently, this was not the first time the bully has shoved Pedro, told him he’s a cholo, and threatened to beat Pedro up. In fact, Pedro says it’s been getting worse and worse.
I had to hold back the tears when Pedro tried to make ME feel better about the situation. He’s so sweet. He didn’t want me to be worried. I asked him if he is worried, and he said, “well, yea, kind of. I mean, some bully wants to beat me up.” Now, I have to do something. I have to think. I have process this. Pedro is tiny. So, of course, I worry about him being beat up. Even more than that, I worry that his self-esteem and confidence is being taken, by a bully!
I write about this stuff. I talk about bullying. I give tips and personal advice about this topic. Pedro did everything right. He’s trying to be kind to the bully. He’s been trying to avoid conflict and confrontation. Maybe the bully needs a friend. Maybe the bully is suffering from his own self-esteem issues. Maybe, the bully is lonely and sad.
Maybe, I don’t care! I mean, I do, when looking at this from a rational angle. The mommy in me though is furious! I’m advising Pedro on all the Bullying what-to-dos, including, telling a Teacher or Administrator. (which, obviously, I’ll also be doing, RIGHT AWAY!) I’m proud of Pedro, for how he has handled this so far. The problem is, I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to handle this. I want to think this will go away. I want to think it’s just “kid stuff.”
But…what if…the bully is a cholo? What if…he does hurt Pedro? What if…this does not go away?
Honestly, I never really thought Pedro would be on the radar of the Middle School Bully. Send prayers for Pedro and his bully. We’ll keep you posted.
By: Alicia Gonzalez