How We Beat the Bully, Part 3
“This English class is so stupid,” Phillip begins again. “I have more important things to do than sit here with the two of you—one a nerd, the other an ADHD case.” He is baiting us, but we don’t respond, and, luckily, he keeps on talking.
“I have a lot of friends, and I have a lot of fun with my friends. We do cool stuff, like burning things. We burn lots of things, and we don’t get caught. You know, I have a life.” Phillip prattles on. I almost open my mouth in shock, hearing that Phillip is not only a bully but also an amateur arsonist. But I restrain myself, hoping he’ll keep going.
“Well, I don’t enjoy destroying property,” I answer.
“Well, that’s your problem,” says Phillip, happily using my response as a springboard for an insult. “You don’t do anything that’s fun. And you shake your head. You’re always dropping things and bumping into people. That’s why no one likes you.”
I shut off the recorder and put my pencil case away. I don’t want to risk having Phillip find the tape recorder. After English class, Brian and I play back the tape, and, to our relief, Phillip’s voice is loud and clear.
When I return home at the end of the day, I play the tape for my mother, and we agree that the next step is to go to the school principal, Mrs. Chun. We ask Brian and his mother to join us.
I think to myself, “I can defeat the bully and still preserve my reputation at school.” I am not, after all, being a tattletale. I am just the messenger. Phillip has provided all the words. My classmates will view me as intelligent and courageous for bringing this bully to light.
Spilling the Beans
“So, what’s been going on?” Mrs. Chun asks when she meets with us. “Well,” my mother begins, “one of the students, named Phillip, has been harassing Blake and Brian on a daily basis for the past five weeks.”
“Yes, I’ve heard the same from Brian,” says Brian’s mom.
“What does he say to you?” Mrs. Chun asks me.
“Well,” I say, as I reach into my backpack to pull out the tape recorder, “he says a lot of things. And some of his comments are recorded here.” Mrs. Chun looks with amazement at the tape recorder.
“Very cunning,” says Brian’s mother.
I place the tape recorder on Mrs. Chun’s desk and rewind the tape to the beginning. Phillip’s words spill out: “You’re so stupid, you can’t even answer a question…. Yeah, that’s all you do…and that’s why you have no friends…. You don’t dress the right way.... I have a lot of friends…. We burn lots of things, and we don’t get caught.”
After she’s heard the recording, Mrs. Chun responds, “Well, your case is very strong.” It’s more serious than she had initially thought. “I’ll talk with Phillip and his parents about this,” she says. The next day, Phillip is gone from school. In fact, he is gone for three days. It is pleasant in English class for the first time in weeks.
When he returns, he looks sullen. His eyes are downcast, and he avoids looking at Brian and me. He is no longer on the offensive. He is humiliated, knowing that he was outsmarted in a very public way. Outside of English class, Phillip approaches me.
“Blake, I’m sorry I was such a jerk. I picked on you because of your problem. I was also jealous of you. Jealous of your grades and that you could do better than me in school.”
I am taken aback by Phillip’s plain honesty. I am silent.
“It’s OK,” I finally respond. There is nothing more to say. Phillip had insulted me because of my ADHD, but in the end, he’s been forced to respect me—ADHD and all.
This piece was excerpted from his book, ADHD & Me. Reprinted with permission by New Harbinger Publications.