On any given day, two little boys (let’s call them Dan and Mike) can be seen running around my neighborhood. Like most brothers, they like to do the sort of things brothers like to do: ride their bikes, play video games, and go fishing at one of the neighborhood lakes. Dan and Mike also like to get into mischief, and more often than not, their mischief leads to big trouble. Trouble like taking the mail out of neighbors’ mail boxes, pulling and tugging at newly planted gardens, and antagonizing other people’s pets.
Dan, the older of the two, is 11, has fair skin and dark greasy hair. His dark eyes are shifty, never looking you straight as if he is afraid that you might, just might, catch a glimpse of that which he means to hide. Whatever the secret, I can only guess, but the depth of his pain is yet to be shared with his little brother, Mike. Mike is only 6 years old, is small (almost petite if I may dare call a boy that), and has a face with a quick smile that belies his Irish parentage. He has yet to understand the politics of peer pressure and after school play time, but he is bright, and under his big brother’s tutelage, is learning that it’s a “dog eat dog” world out there on the perfectly manicured streets of our small town gated community: only the toughest of the suburban tough get to play on the playground swings.
Not surprisingly, neither Dan nor Mike have a lot of friends in the neighborhood. I wondered for a long time about that, and wondered why they would constantly come over to my house to play with my children (who are several years older than these two), but I later learned it was because we were new to the neighborhood. The other neighborhood children wanted nothing to do with these brothers. Our family, on the other hand, was fresh meat. We just didn’t know any better. Besides, their mother seemed very personable, and the children were friendly. Other than the casually mentioned spat she had with an “old crabby neighbor” who, in her words, “didn’t like her children,” this family seemed copacetic to me! I know. The warning bells should have gone off right there and then, but this family seemed so… polite. I did, however, wonder about the strange look an adult neighbor gave me upon witnessing my children playing with these two boys. Hmm…
I have never noticed any odd behavior from these children myself, other than the fact that they do like to stay outside a lot, but I did learn sometime after of another little boy who who was tormented daily by these brothers until his parents finally put a stop to it. Police were involved. That’s all I know. Do I really want to know more?
Needless to say, my own children have long since lost interest in fraternizing with these brothers. And yet, every couple of months, Dan and Mike will still come by our house and ask, “Can your kids come out and play?”
Have you ever had to deal with neighborhood bullies? What did you do to stop the bullying? Or perhaps you were the bully? What did you do to change?
©Norine Acevedo and Norine’s Notebook, 2013