I bent down to unplug my guitar cord from my portable sound system and felt the lightest of taps on my right shoulder. “Thanks a lot for coming to my school.” I could barely hear the words mumbled by this handsome, blond-headed young man.
“You are so welcome, buddy! My name is Matt. What’s yours?” Not much louder than before, he muttered, “Dylan.” A more difficult step can hardly be taken by someone at his age. He had decided to walk away from his classmates as they bounced down the bleachers and out of the gym. The awkwardness of all middle schoolers, as well as his own shyness, were evident in the way our conversation had started.
“I’m always trying to make reACT to Bullying better,” I pushed the conversation forward. “What did you like most about it?” His comment next had nothing to do with my question. He had summoned just enough courage to walk over to me and say something. Now the words flew from his mouth, “I was bullied really bad in elementary school.” He had finally said it.
I asked delicately, “It’s over now though, right?” “Yeah,” he answered. For the first time, he finally looked me in the eye as his own momentum carried him forward. “You know when you said that we should call on someone who can help us? That’s what I finally did. I called on my Grandma. Before that, I was just alone.”
That word rang in my head – “alone.”
“First, Dylan, I’m so glad the bullying is over. And I’m so glad you took that step. You made it stop, and you know how to stop it if it ever happens again.” I continued, “Thank you so much for coming down here and talking to me, bud. It means the world to me. And do you know what you just taught me?” He most certainly wasn’t expecting a question from me. He shrugged. “You taught me a bully’s favorite word – alone.”
A smile, a bit of a nod, and a limp handshake was what he offered as he shuffled away to meet up with his classmates. I, however, just stood there and smiled.