My First Nemesis

newmanDubsie’s first bully is a boy with long silky brown hair, a wearer of berets and vests and gaily colored pants, who yanked hard on Dubsie’s earring when she had been at her new preschool only a few days. Let’s call him Newman.

Dubsie was not going to let bygones be bygones. “There,” she told me for days thereafter, stabbing her finger at a corner of the preschool playroom like a victim replaying the crime for the sergeant. “There. That’s where Newman pullded my earring. Right there.”

I tried to like Newman. I made a point of talking to him when I visited during the Photography module (each week has a theme at this new school, like Water or Camping or Things that Are Gooey, and one week was Photography, or as Dubsie calls it, FER…TOG…GER…FEE). Dubsie came home with the notion that there are only three conceivable objects of fer-tog-ger-fee: Nature, Animals and People.

I asked a classmate, Gabby, what she would take pictures of on their upcoming field trip.

“Flowers!” she said.

What would Hazel take pictures of?

“People!” Hazel cried.

How about you, Newman?

“POOP!” he yelled.

Dubsie reports that Newman acts out in class, in ways that are not ‘propriate, as she says. He is always getting in trouble. He calls Dubsie “Stupid Dubsie.” One day I dropped Dubsie with a card she’d received from a friend that she wanted to show to her classmates. Before she could, Newman ran to his cubby to get a card of his own.”My card is more beautifuller,” he said, again and again, as if he were channeling a certain presidential candidate.

So we try to be good parents. We teach Dubsie the value of forbearance, even if she can’t pronounce “forbearance” yet, and prepare her for the inevitability that Newman is just the first of a long line of bullies and creeps and chowderheads who will make life difficult. We counsel her her to be kind, and forgiving, and nice, and to ignore Daddy when he grits his teeth and clenches his fist and yells “Newman!” and chuckles to himself.



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