Sgt. Foster Mayo
Our story this week takes place in a small town in Middle America. “Little Bill” lived there with his mom and siblings. As single parent families go, their existence was adequate but there are few luxuries in their life. Little Bill didn’t have “things” like new school clothes, his own phone, access to a computer or even a television. He did have his own “RV” a bicycle that was both his recreation and his transportation.
Little Bill received only adequate grades in school: he was passing but not close to his potential. Little Bill also had behavioral issues at school. He did not like going to school, mostly because he was afraid to go to school. The school grounds and Little Bill’s route to and from school, was under the control of two bullies. They particularly enjoyed picking on Little Bill.
The bullies were brothers, one in high school and one in Little Bill’s grade. The bullies supplemented their income by robbing their classmates and taking their lunch money, a new coat or some other article of clothing that had struck their fancy. Robbery is the stealing another’s property against their will by the use of force or fear. Using force and creating fear is the bully’s special talent. It worked very effectively on Little Bill.
One of the “luxuries” that Little Bill’s family could not afford was breakfast. Little Bill and Little Bill’s growing body counted on the school’s cafeteria lunch program for the majority of his daily calorie and nutrition intake. However, by stealing his money the Bully’s usually took that away from him.
It seems difficult to believe that not eating breakfast or lunch would cause behavioral and discipline problems for Little Bill at school but it did. The teachers and principal did not understand that by the middle of the afternoon, some 20 hours after Little Bill’s last concept of a meal, he was not able to
concentrate in class or respond to complex questions. He was telling the truth when he said that he was trying to stay awake in class but could not.
The teachers and Principal disciplined Little Bill at school and his mother disciplined him again when he got home. Mom was not big into the delivery of corporal punishment; she was more into guilt and sending Little Bill to bed without dinner. You can see how helpful that would be for Little Bill.
As his punishments continued for some behavior or other situation that was beyond his control, Little Bill became angrier. The time bomb had begun ticking but no one was listening.
The precursor for the impending explosion was when the bullies set their sights on Little Bill’s bicycle. The bicycle wasn’t just some old, cheap, rusted bicycle to them, it was the symbol of their power and their reassurance that they had control over the little people. The bullies needed a LOT of reassurance about their power because they too were the victims of a bully. There was an even bigger and more effective purveyor of fear and intimidation at their house: their father.
The bicycle wasn’t just some old, cheap, rusted bicycle to Little Bill: it was everything to him. It was his recreation, his escape, his total accumulated worldly wealth and it was his “last straw”.
So we have introduced the characters in our drama, we have created the antagonists and we have set the conflict in motion. How will it end? In a Shakespearian drama the central character would have chosen either suicide or the death of his rivals. The same options were available to Little Bill.
If there is a worse nightmare for parents, principals or police than the Columbine High School incident, I cannot imagine what it is. All of us have to plan, practice and be prepared for this possibility. There are undoubtedly bullies and “Little Bills” in Boundary County.
Parenting in 2017 is extremely complicated. There are a myriad of new issues and conflicts confronting our children today. We, as parents, have to learn how to communicate with them about
all of them: especially alcohol, drugs, and violence. Some of us have to become better role models so that we do not teach our kids how to victimize others or abuse drugs or alcohol.
Sitting down with our kids and talking about such serious things can be painfully difficult. Failing to do so can be worse. If you need help, please know that there are trained people in counseling positions in our community, the schools and in probation. Our children must be our priority.