Monday, January 28, 2008

The Berenstain Bears and the Bully

Everyday Caitlyn is allowed to bring home a book from her classroom library. Some days she brings one home, other days we just read one of her books. Today she brought home a Berenstain Bears book. Typically, I like these Bears. The books deal with issues that most 6 year olds face; teeth falling out, chores, fear of the dark, etc. This book about a bully was a bit more than I had anticipated when I started reading it to her.

Here are some exceprts from the book. Those with quotation marks are direct comments from the book. Those without are me filling in some parts.

Sister Bear comes home from school crying and looks a mess. She has scratches on her face and her clothes are all dirty and she is sobbing terribly. Once her family calms her down, she is able to tell them what happened.

Spoken by Sister Bear
"Lizzie, Queenie, and I were playing tag at the playground when this new cub-a no-good bully named Tuffy- stuck out a foot and tripped me. So I got up and said, 'Why don't you watch where you put your feet?' Before I knew what was happening, it was POW, BAM, WHAMMO, and I was flat on my back with this Tuffy character sitting on my chest rubbing dirt in my face."

Brother Bear was determined to rush to his sister's defense, as any big brother would be. He heads straight for the playground to find this bully so that he can handle the situation himself. Until he discovers that the bully is in fact a little girl.

Spoken by Tuffy the bully
"Hey!" she said. "You must be the big brother of Little Miss Pink Hairbow! She got fresh, so I cleaned her clock. Wanna make somthin' out of it?"

Sister Bear is at home with ehr parents trying to figure out a way to resolve the situation.

Spoken by Sister Bear
"But what I'd really like to do is punch that Tuffy's nose right through her face, then kick her in the shin, then knock her down and -"

Brother Bear being the fabulous big brother that he is, went to the school gym and borrowed some boxing gloves. He also got a book for Sister Bear to study, The Art of Self Defense. He then gave her a bag of Mama's beans to use as a punching bag.

Spoken by Sister Bear
"A punching bag named Tuffy."

"With Brother's help, she learned the left jab, the right cross, the left hook, and the uppercut. She also learned to duck. And she punched Mama's dried beans silly."

Sister Bear did all she could to avoid Tuffy that week, but by Wednesday, it had proven to be too difficult. She happened upon Tuffy throwing stones at a baby bird and hollered for Tuffy to stop. Of course, Tuffy being the bully that she is, said she would stopm but only because she would prefer to hurt Sister Bear instead.

"She rushed at Sister with her hard little fists ready. But Sister was ready too. She had her left out and her right up, protecting her jaw. When Tuffy threw a hard right, Sister ducked, then hit her square on the nose with a right cross. That quickly, Tuffy found herself sitting on the ground with a bloody nose.

Both bears are promptly taken to the principles's discipline bench to wait for their punishments. It then that Sister notices the bully crying. She is puzzled as to why someone as tough as Tuffy would be crying.

Spoken by Tuffy:
"If the principal tells my mom and dad about this, I won't be able to sir down for a - well, a long time."

"Hmmm, thought Sister. Here's a cub who maybe gets hit a lot at home. Maybe that's why she like to hit other cubs at school."

Narrative: (and final paragraph of the book)
"As for Tuffy, the principal didn't call in her parents. But she did lose a week of recess, and she had to visit the school psychologist twice a week for quite a while."

I was reading this to Caitlyn while we were sitting on the couch in the living room. Matt was in the recliner listening. He actually thought that I was making parts of this up.

Caitlyn giggled through some of the parts I have quoted above. I didn't giggle, I am stunned at the way it was written. Do I think bullying is a very real thing that kids need to be aware of, absolutely. But good Lord, to be so graphic about it?? Caitlyn had to ask me what a psychologist is and she asked me if kids become bullies because their parents spank them. Which is basically what she took away from this story. I wonder if that was what the author had intended when he wrote this?

1 comment:

Cath said...

Wow, that seems very graphic and extreme for someone of Caitlyns age. I would have been stunned too!