Hunched over one of the twins changing a diaper, my ears were perked and my back straightened by the conversation of wife and son unpacking his school bag at the bottom of the stairs.
-- "Hey 'Lij . . . . Where did you get this note?"
-- "Oh that . . . . Someone on the bus gave it to me."
-- "Were you being mean to someone?"
-- "Then why would someone give you this?"
At this point my nose had peaked round the corner and I'd made my way over to read the note. In a child's scrawl, trailing off almost indiscernably at the end, it said:
If you bully me then I will have to get an adult involved.
--"Who gave this to you?"
-- "One of the bigger kids on the bus."
-- "A bigger kid?"
-- "Yeah, a grade oner. Christian. He wrote it for me."
-- "He wrote it for you?"
-- "Yeah . . . . I told him what happened and he said to give this to the mean kids."
-- "Oh were some kids at school being mean to you?"
-- "They just hurt me a little bit. Pushed me and I fell and hurt my knee."
When we saw the bruise the hair on my neck stood at attention--angry--against who I'm not sure. Its weird because unless it gets worse there is not a lot we can or should do.
A week later, calmer, but alert now too. Some decent chats: Kid-friendly shades of turn the other cheek and put away your sword; wise as serpents and innocent as doves---how to get out of a jam kind of stuff. He gets it a bit, I think. No more bruises so far, but there are no guarantees.
I won't pretend that week was not deeply disconcerting. The sense of helplessness is startling. There are all sorts of kids out there coming from all sorts of situations, and mine is out there with them; one of them.
But there are also big kids on the bus who write notes for little kids, and I wish I could tell them they're my heroes. They'd probably be all like whatever old man.