You’re such a sore loser and a cry baby. You always cry. See that guys? She’s crying.”
I could feel my blood boiling beneath the water’s surface. I could feel my heart racing, pounding inside my chest. Sure, I had just finished swimming 6 or 7 laps, but it was an anxious rapping — a fight or flight response — and I was gearing up for a fight, a fight with a 10-year-old boy. (Before the hate mail rolls in, it should made be clear: I wasn’t about to go fist-to-cuffs with a child, but I was going to say something. I was going to parent someone else’s child.)
Billy was looking around, garnering chuckles from his friends and seeking validation when I said it. I said it without hesitation and without apology: “No, what I see is a bully.”
His friends stopped laughing ,and Billy rolled his eyes and swam away. I didn’t say much, but I didn’t have to because he didn’t say another word while I was there, at least not in regards to the young girl standing outside of the pool. The young girl whose face I never saw (her back was turned toward Billy and all of us) but whose shoulders slouched forward and head hung heavy.