3rd grade, Robert E. Lee Elementary. My parents and siblings and I lived at Grandma Floyd’s house, which was right down the street from the elementary school. My cousins, Nicky and Danny, were staying at my grandma’s house for a short period, and I’m not sure why. Nicky was in the 2nd grade, she was a year younger than me. Although we fought all the time, we were best friends. Our classrooms were right next to each other.
One day, we wanted to ditch my little brother at school and make him walk home by himself. He was in kindergarten. I can’t remember why we planned this, maybe he pissed us off or we had the “girls against boy” mentality or maybe we were just mean kids.
Nicky and I ran to Grandma Floyd’s house and waited on the porch for Mikey. We waited for a very long time. An 8 year old doesn’t have a good sense of measuring time, but we waited on the porch until my mom pulled up in the driveway with my little brother in the front seat. She was pissed.
She got out of the car and started yelling at me, “Shame on you, Michelle! How could you have done this to your brother!” She carefully got my little brother from the passenger seat out of the car and he had scrapes and bruises all over his arms, legs and face. She brought him into the house and yelled for me to follow her.
I entered the bedroom where my brother was crying on the bed and my mom knelt down to my level, “Look at your brother. You left him and this happened! You are not to ever leave your brother. You are not to ever let him down again. Shame on you, Michelle!”
Between all the yelling and my mom telling my dad what happened, I gathered that Mikey waited for me and Nicky at school and figured he would start walking home to Grandma’s house. As soon as he crossed the street, the 6th grader school bully named Chucky, and his little sister beat up Mikey. Chucky had a cast over his entire head, including his face; my mom told us it was because his mom punished him by shaving his head and face.
I never left my brother at school by himself again.
One day after I picked him up from class, we were starting to walk down Homedale Street and saw Chucky and his little sister about 20 feet ahead of us. Mikey got scared and started to walk behind me. I pretended I wasn’t scared and put my mean face on. Chucky’s little sister saw my brother and pointed at him, telling her brother that Mikey was behind us. Chucky stopped, turned around and stayed there, waiting for us to approach him.
I told my brother to stay behind me and to walk on my right side and go ahead of me so he wouldn’t be near Chucky. As I got near Chucky, I slowed down to give Mikey time. I stared at the two blue eyes behind the cast of Chucky’s head as I approached. I stopped right in front of Chucky, “What are you looking at? You think you just get to pick on little kids half your size! Now what, you want to pick on a girl?! I’m not afraid of you. If you pick on my little brother again or even say one word to him, I’ll tell your mom what you did and whatever happened to your face will happen to the rest of your body.” I kept eye contact and as soon as my brother got far enough ahead of us, I said to Chucky and his little sister, “I dare you.”
I turned around to continue walking to Grandma’s house and prayed to God that he wouldn’t hit me from behind as I counted my steps. By the time I checked behind me, Chucky and his sister were gone.
He never picked on my little brother again and I learned that if you convince someone you’re not scared of them, they’ll believe you and eventually you’ll believe yourself too.