On my first day of kindergarten, I brought in a Barney lunchbox that held a Capri Sun, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a good luck brownie. I was super excited about it; I was a big girl, with a big girl lunch, and a big girl lunchbox. That is, until Stephen LeBarge saw me pull the plastic, purple box from my cubby and announced to the entire class that I was a baby. As Stephanie Tanner would say, “How rude!” He pointed and laughed at me as though a five-year-old liking a show about a fun-loving dinosaur was the most ridiculous thing he had ever seen in his limited and likely very stupid life.
“Hey, everyone, look at the baby!” He yelled, as I stood there in my Gap Kids jean jumper and Keds, absolutely horrified. Holding my lunchbox, I whimpered that I wanted my mommy. Where the fuck was she, anyway? I was super over this playdate already. Time to go home. Somebody pull her out of yoga and get her over here, stat.
But that little asshole, Stephen, continued. “You want your mommy? You ARE such a baby, baby.” The ruthless mocking continued. He looked like the kind of kid whose mom had probably done a mixture of meth and opiates up until her third trimester. That, and she was probably a smoker. Hell, Stephen probably smoked with her. He was a bad egg — even at five — I could tell. As for me? I was done with this shit. And so, not wanting to cry, I did the only thing I could think of:
“TEACHERRRRRRRRRRRR” I screamed. “Stephen is being mean to me.” And with that, Stephen had to turn his green popsicle straight to red, do not stop at go — or yellow, as the case may be — do not collect $200, do not ever speak to me again. And he didn’t (shocking, I know). Instead, he spent his days at a table far, far away from mine, eating glue and likely daydreaming about his future time in juvie. Public school, you guys, it really is as bad as the movies make it out to be.
While my story was clearly traumatic because I’m still talking about it twenty years later, I mostly got over it. I continued to bring my Barney lunchbox and continued to get Stephen LeBarge in trouble for quite literally everything. And I’d like to thank my teacher for that. When I was in need, she came to my aid. She identified me as the victim and him as the piece of shit kid from across the railroad tracks, or, you know, the bully. Same thing. Because that is what teachers are supposed to do. They are supposed to nip bullying in the bud. Stop it when they see it. Let it be known that they will not tolerate it. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven, teachers the biggest advocates for their students. And I’m grateful that as a child, that was exactly my experience. Unfortunately, not all kids are so lucky.
Grayson Bruce, a nine-year-old from North Carolina, is unfortunately one of them. A lifetime fan of “My Little Pony” (a man after my own heart, what can I say?), Grayson was super pumped to find a blue backpack featuring the iconic horse, instead of the usual pink. And, so, like any normal nine-year-old, Grayson strutted into school with his dope new swag and was ready for the bitches to holla and the boys to pay mad respect. A blue “My Little Pony” backpack? Where does one even find something so cool?
Instead of gaining insane amounts of street cred, however, poor, sweet little Grayson was met with animosity, and, quite frankly, some kids who are clearly the product of some really shitty parenting. For rather than complimenting, or, I don’t know, ignoring this kid’s new backpack, his classmates took to punching him and calling him names. And the school did nothing about it. Rather than intervene on the physical assault (North Carolina, come on and raise up), they blamed the victim and told our little martyr that he was inviting the bullying and needed to leave his new backpack at home.
Honestly. Fuck the police, right? That’s some grade-A bullshit. Since when is getting picked on the victim’s fault? Have Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying PSAs not made it to Buncombe County yet? Because while it wouldn’t be an excuse, it would at least be an explanation. North Carolina: won’t you join us in the 21st century? Bullying isn’t cool. Now buck up and let Grayson wear his “My Little Pony” backpack. Kid’s got more character than all of those school administrators combined. Grayson: you do you. #FightThePower