It all started on the elementary school playground, with all of the twisting slides, vibrantly colored equipment and earthy smells emanating from the mulch. We had just arrived at the Cumberland Hill playground after picking up my cousins, Ethan and Madison, from school last year. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny May afternoon that day, so my Aunt let us play in the playground for a short time. Ethan and Madison also wanted to wait for a treat from the ice cream truck that comes by the playground on warm sunny afternoons. Ethan was a nine year old boy, tall for his age, with sandy blonde hair, and he was in fourth grade at the time. Madison, his sister, was a five year old, with chocolaty brown hair, also tall for her age, and at the time she was in kindergarten. Ethan and Madison were playing tag with me, a game we so often play on our visits to the school playground. We were running all around the playground, chasing one another, arguing about who was it, laughing and having a great time. The three of us were playing tag and hiding in any little alcove or spot we could find, as we tried to outsmart the tagger. After we had been playing for a little while, two neighborhood boys that we did not know came over to ask us a question. One boy was short with dirty blonde hair and he was wearing a Patriots jersey and the other boy was about the same height as his friend and he was wearing a Batman t-shirt.
“ Can we play tag with you guys?” they asked in a friendly way.
“Sure, why not, the more the merrier”, we said.
“Thanks!” said the boy wearing the jersey.
After a couple of quick rounds of tag with them, the two boys started making some unkind comments and jokes at our expense. There was no harm done in the beginning, until they started to get more vicious with their taunts. At first they would only tease Madison, because she was the youngest and the slowest.
“Hurry it up, your slower than my grandma and she has a walker.”said the kid in the Batman shirt. When she started to cry, after another cruel comment, her brother Ethan tried to stand up for her.
“Back off that’s my sister you are making fun of.” Ethan told the boys.
But it only made the teasing and jokes come back with a new intensity. Soon the three of us were targets of their hurtful words. It took me some time, but I finally got the nerve to say something to them before any more harm could be done to my family.
“You need to stop no one here is having a good time, but you. I am ending this game now.” I said.
After the game stopped and the boys walked away, Madison was still very upset and had to be calmed down before we could play anything else. The only way that we could think of to distract her from crying was getting her a delicious ice cream treat from the truck that had just arrived. After we finished our cold sweet snack ,Madison was no longer crying, and we were able to start up another game of tag before we had to leave the playground to go do our homework. We were wary of the boys and tried to avoid them on the playground, always migrating to the areas away from them.
“Guys it’s time to go. Come on we have to go finish our homework.” announced Auntie Michelle.
Before we knew it we had to go home and we were somewhat relieved and saddened. We were saddened because we still wanted play and relieved because the boys could no longer antagonize us. The two boys came over to us and apologized for teasing us. The three of us were hesitant to accept the apology. We were afraid that if we accepted their apologies, they would think it was fine to tease us again next time, or that maybe the apology was a hoax, one final joke at our expense. But the boys seemed sincere, and we did accept their apology before leaving the playground for the day. After the boys apologized, Madison and Ethan seemed in a better mood on the way home, smiling and laughing as we walked on the sidewalk. I hope the message that people can take away from this story is that when you see others being hurt, especially your family, you have to stand up for them and protect them from being bullied.