Every day, you do what you can to keep things in order: Look after the kids. Teach them well. Make sure they aren’t hungry.
But at every turn the bully makes fun of you, insults you, judges you.
They don’t even know what you do all day, but they tell everyone you do it badly.
They rope their friends in to mock you in public: You’re stupid. No-one else would have you. You’re letting everyone down.
You continue to do your best. You know others that think way better of you than that. You hope the bully will notice, but they don’t. Willfully, perhaps.
Worse, it seems to rile them.
And the hounding continues.
You’re fed up of defending yourself.
You start losing your confidence, second guessing yourself.
You wonder why you are there. Why do you bother?
You think about leaving, but what about the kids…
Just when you are at your lowest ebb, the bully brings you a gift. A big gift. They show the gift to everyone – strutting with pride.
Oh, people excaim, what a great thing to do. How kind. That’s real respect, right there, they say.
You wonder, why can’t they see? Why do they think so much undermining can be erased by a gift?
The gift’s not even what you’ve been asking for, to make things easier. To make the kids’ lives better. In fact, the gift seems to be more for the bully than for you.
You say that, but so many people call you ungrateful. Typical that you’re never satisfied, they say.
You feel insulted.
You feel belittled.
But you don’t stop speaking out.
And you stay. For the kids.
Because you’re a teacher. And this is your job. And you know you do it well.
And you will continue to speak out. Because it’s not you that needs to go. It’s the bully.