We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofJoshua Guyette

“Five more minutes till we go outside!” my fourth grade teacher announced to the class. It was the last day of school until winter vacation and I was in my final period of the day. I was quite eager to be out of school to begin a nearly two-week long break. Our class would be taking a second recess to go outside on the playground in honor of Christmas break. We started walking to the playground as I noticed some of the other classes coming outside too. I didn’t see any of my friends coming out so I just walked around waiting for the teacher to dismiss us so I could walk home. 

Most of my classmates were playing four square but I wasn’t interested in that so I stayed on the playground. There were only a few other kids that were near me and one of them was getting closer to me. I saw that he didn’t look like a very good student, based on how he constantly spat in the snow with a snarl. I started walking away, trying to look unsuspicious. Soon enough he was about 5 feet away from me. I saw this look in his eyes as if he were about to strike. The next thing I know, he pushes me down and I fall backwards, a million thoughts going through my head at once. I hit my head on a decent-sized chunk of ice and he ran away from me towards the group of kids. Now I had to decide if I was going to let him get away with that or not. 

I had multiple things I had to consider before getting back at him. First, the consequences could result in detention for both of us, or just me. This didn’t bother me much because I knew that kids don’t get detention for more than 2 hours, which isn’t very long. Secondly, I had to consider what my parents would think. I’d remembered recently having a conversation with them that if you were to be bullied, you stand up for yourself and hit them back. Only in this case it would be a push. After a lot of thought, I decided to stand up to the bully and prove to myself and others that I wouldn’t be pushed around, literally and figuratively. I summoned up the courage to start walking towards the kid who pushed me. I accelerated, speed-walking and before I could realize, I was running in a full sprint and shoved him to the cold hard ground with all the force in my body. 

Although the push felt good for about five seconds, I soon felt a wave of regret as I saw him stand up and run to the teacher to tattle on me. “That kid just pushed me for no reason!” he shouted through tears to the teacher. 

“He pushed me first!” I fought back with my lip quivering. Her eyes darted to him.

“Let’s handle this inside,” she said sternly but calmly. 

She called both of our parents to come in and my dad came quickly. She explained to him what happened to save some time so we could leave. Luckily, there was no detention for me, but I can’t say the same for the other kid. Once my dad was informed, he looked at me disapprovingly, but only while the teacher was watching. After we left, he asked if I was hurt and I said I wasn’t even though my head was throbbing from when it hit the chunk of ice. “I’m proud that you stood up for yourself,” my dad told me. I didn’t respond, but I knew that I was, too. 

© Joshua Guyette. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.