Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bone Man and the Magic Stone

My sweet boy bullied again.
He's really becoming an expert in the field.

We left early in the morning to go to the town fair, where a temporary arcade has been set up. We're on break and Lu wanted to go play the video games before the other kids got out of school. It had gone well the day before. A few boys had started giving him a hard time and he had stood his ground. 

We got there at noon, half an hour before the public school lets out. There were only 2 or 3 other kids there. Lu got his choice of game and was playing when the bell rang. Kids raced out of the school and a group of about 15 boys ran straight for the arcade.

I was sitting on a bench outside the arcade, reading, and the blue curtain didn't let me see inside. 15 minutes later, Lu came out and said "Let's go now."

We made it through the better part of town and then sat on a bench in an empty park, and the tears came streaming down. 

The boys had first circled him. Then they started pushing. Then they pulled his hair. Then one boy yanked off Lu's hat and started running. Lu ran after him, grabbed the boy by the shoulders and demanded his hat be returned. He went back to his game. They kept running past him and punching him. One boy even hit him on the head. At one point, Lu turned around and pushed a boy out of the arcade, flat on his ass. Lu was angry. He wanted to fight. It was when an older boy came up behind him and used a very vulgar phrase, that Lu finally walked out and came to me.

I wanted to go back. I wanted him to point them out to me. For a moment, we almost did. But then we thought about it and realized that it could just make things worse. So, instead, we talked about the fact that there are bullies everywhere, and that we must learn to deal with them without making enemies out of them. In such a small town, one really doesn't want enemies.

We got home and Lu had another long cry with his daddy. We had lunch and talked more about it. Basically, bullying sucks. Bullies run the world. This is the way it is.

Whenever something like this happens we bring up the possibility of going to spend some time with Cha's family in UK. Although I can't imagine going back to the world of cars, tickets, taxes and lines, I do like the idea of going back to the world of libraries, museums, cultural diversity, basic human rights... Lu is intrigued too, but has a hard time thinking of leaving our home and our pets.

I don't know if he really understands that in other places we wouldn't be as "different", places where he would just blend in. I've never really wanted to put it to him quite like that. I've explained that those boys are just testing his reactions because he seems so different to them, that they need to prove that he also feels pain, gets mad, bleeds... It's a difficult concept to grasp - our history classes will hopefully help shed some light on the historical reasons for this.

Several hours later, getting into the shower, Lu suddenly started feeling a terrible pain in his shoulder, where one of the boys had punched him. 


The closest hospital is 3 hours away. So we called the Bone Man. 

The Bone Man, or huesero in Spanish, is taught the art of manipulating bones. It is an inherited trade, usually passed down from parents, aunts, or uncles. When someone gets hurt in town, they go to him - unless it's a fracture. So Cha ran down to fetch him. We've had to call him before when our older students have dislocated shoulders doing acrobatics. He's always there and ready. 

They were back in less than 15 minutes. Lu was scared. He'd seen the procedure done on someone else who was yelling in pain. But he needed not worry, it wasn't that bad for him. There was a bit of pain with the pulling and twisting, but Lu kept a brave face. 

Then, the Bone Man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, smooth, round stone, and started pushing the shoulder back in place with it. Soon, Lu's face relaxed and he was able to move his arm around again.

He wants to cut his hair now. He says he loves his long hair, but that he doesn't want to live like this the rest of his childhood. I told him that it wouldn't necessarily stop all the bullying, and that he shouldn't let idiots make him do something he doesn't want to do. He said he knew those things, but that he still wanted to do it. OK, I said. (but I hope he changes his mind)

And I'm torn. Do I keep on preaching peace to my sweet boy and manifesting a future world of respectful camaraderie, or do I accept that idiots are and will always be everywhere, and train him in the fine art of ass-kicking?

*  *  *  *  *  *

I get up to make a snack, hang out with the guys a while, Cha and I keep on telling Lu that if he cuts his hair he's letting them win, Lu insists he wants to cut it, an hour or so goes by, I come back to post this photo (taken last night after the Bone Man operation) -

Lu comes up and sits next to me, looks at the picture, wraps his arm around my shoulder and says: "and to think I was going to cut off my hair for those jerks."  

YES! One for the hometeam.


  1. I'm sorry you are dealing with more bullying :( I don't know what to suggest, so I'll just send hugs to you both (( ))

  2. i feel for you... It broke my heart the first time my daughter was pushed around by an older child at an aquarium. It helps to know that most people aren't this way (l@s buen@s somos más, truly), and that brute force and bullying are ultimately very limiting tools that won't take those kids very far in many settings in life (academically, professionally, in progressive/interesting/artistic circles, etc).

  3. I think you handled the situation beautifully, and so did Lu. He knew how much he could take, how to react without escalating things, and when enough was enough and it was time to retreat. I believe in preaching peace and learning to deal without making enemies. You both handled it well.

    As much as I love our world of museums, libraries, etc, I look at your blog, and read about your life and wish we could trade! No matter where we live, there will always be trade-offs, and living in the UK or USA, or wherever, there will always be bullies. You are teaching Lu how to handle himself in the matter where he is.

    (((hugs))) to Lu!

    And, reading about "the bone man" was fascinating. Thank you for sharing all of this!

  4. Thanks Malea!
    It's true - every place will have its good and bad.

    The Bone Man was something else - especially when called upon for one's own child. I definitely feel I crossed my own cultural barrier with that one.