His Mountain

I received special permission to blog this story. 

Last week my oldest son learned the hard lesson that where a group of 10-year-old boys is gathered, someone gets chosen as the odd man out.  In this case, it was Adam. 

He was at a summer day camp, his first year to go.  A certain group of boys, led by a ringleader we’ll call Chuck, bullied him all week.  It wasn’t serious physical bullying–it was the kind that arguably hurts even worse.  Adam was taunted and teased and excluded in ways that cut deeply.  The camp counselors tried to intervene, but they’re all a bunch of college kids not trained to deal with the dynamics of a bullying situation.  They weren’t a lot of help.

After the first day, we sat down with Adam and went through the list of how to handle a bully:  standing up for yourself, teaming up with a friend, talking with the adults.  We offered to get involved; he was insistent that he wanted to handle this himself.  Though the Mama Bear in me was ready to lash out, instinct told me I should trust him on this one.

He tried handling things on Tuesday and Wednesday, with little or no success.  He did make a special friend (we’ll call him Dave), but this boy was equally targeted by Chuck and his gang.  Wednesday night, Adam came home so discouraged that he just didn’t feel like he could go back. 

We didn’t blame him.  We told him we were proud of how he had stood up for himself, and that since he had done everything we asked, he didn’t have to go back.  We would explain to the camp staff what had been going on.

But, Hubs reminded him, bullies do their thing as a means to gain power.  If Adam didn’t continue to stand his ground, would the bullies, in fact, be winning? 

And what about Dave?  If Adam didn’t go back, Dave would be left to face the bullies’ wrath alone.

Adam mulled these things over, and Hubs left him with one more thought.  He reminded Adam that life is a lot like a series of mountains.  You face one struggle, you master it, and your "legs", figuratively speaking, are stronger for the next one.  Maybe, Hubs explained, this was just one of Adam’s mountains.  Maybe, in staying and standing firm, Adam could feel the victory that comes from a tough climb.

But, and we still made this clear, we wouldn’t be disappointed if Adam chose to leave camp.  Adam looked at us with a seriousness that belied his ten years.  "I need to think about this," he said.

He did.  For hours he mulled this over.  How I wanted to jump in and make the decision for him!  How I wanted to box the ears of the boys who were unkind to my son!  And yet, that little voice of instinct told me that this was the time for silence.

Adam told us he would be returning to camp for the last two days.  His jaws were set.  And his shoulders looked a little broader to me than they had the day before.

As it turned out, the last two days were markedly better.  And on the last day of camp, they hosted a special time for the parents to come see what the kids had been doing all week.  After the songs and the crafts and the announcements, Hubs leaned down and asked Adam to point out Chuck.  With Adam watching, Hubs (who can be quite intimidating when he so chooses, and at this moment, he indeed so chose) extended his hand to Chuck. 

"I just wanted to meet you," Hubs said.  "Adam has told me what a good friend you’ve been to him this week.  I just wanted to thank you for being so kind." 

Chuck’s eyes became huge and his face went white.  Hubs continued to hold his gaze, and his handshake.

"Someday," Hubs continued, "I think you’ll look back on this week and be so proud of the way you acted."

Leaving a bewildered Chuck standing there, Hubs clapped a gleeful Adam on the back, and the two of them left.

A few days later, we were going over this story again, Adam beaming every time he retold it.  I told him that if he felt comfortable with it, I’d like to share this story on my blog.  He looked at me and grinned.

"Mom," he said, "I’d be disappointed if you didn’t."

And that is the response of a boy who has grown this summer.  A boy who knows his daddy has his back. 

A boy who just climbed a mountain.

115 thoughts on “His Mountain

  1. Wilm says:

    Well done – you are a courageous young man! Good on you.
    And HUBS – I wish I could have seen you having a chat with “Chuck”.
    Mama Bear – you did great. Just reading Adam’s story made the Mama in me want to hunt them down and give them an earful! šŸ™‚
    What a mountain to climb! I hope that you enjoyed coming down the side, Adam!
    Cheers, Wilm

  2. Nancy says:

    What a great story…one that brings a huge lump to my throat.
    I had to sit back and watch girl bullying toward my kiddo when I worked at my daughter’s school. It is a hard thing for a momma to do. You all three handled it very well and hopefully “Chuck” learned a valuable lesson from a great daddy.
    Hugs to your little man.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I have been bullied before and you never forget that feeling. I think Adam and your huband did a great job handling it.

  4. My Quotidian Mysteries (Laura) says:

    Wow – Way to go ADAM! And way to go Hubs with that great mountain story. Heck, I need to face some mountains today, and it gives me a lot of inspiration to know that Adam faced his.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  5. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

    Despite the fact that I STILL want to poke that Chuck’s eyes out with a sharp stick (I know, but I do!), I can see how Hub’s solution will be better for everyone in the long run. Adam is a brave, good kid. I’m glad he let you share this story.

  6. Lori says:

    Wow, that is an amazing story. And it will be helpful to me – my daughter is having some of the same struggles. Thanks for sharing and I hope you took Adam out for a big ice cream!

  7. Emily says:

    Wow!!! Praise God that Adam and his father stood firm! What an awesome example both of them set for other young men (and grown men)…how not to handle difficult situations with violence like we see so much of in the world! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  8. SingForHim@Real Life says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My daughter has been being bullied by my good friend’s kids. I have been wondering how to deal with it, and this story gives me a lot to think about. She’s only 6, and I’m not sure whether to let her deal with it herself.

  9. Dawn says:

    I am totally cheering you on and letting you know that we had the very same type of incident occur this year and my son and dh handled it the same way. DS is going to be in 8th grade, so assuredly your son may have more of these mountains to climb. Also, it is a good lesson to not bully others.

  10. Dana says:

    That IS a great story! Thank you for sharing that. and you guys are so wise..in letting him make his own decision. As parents, it is so hard to let our kids make their own decisions. And the bullying….I HATE THAT. I wish there was some way we could prevent that because it is horrible. You guys handled the situation awesome. I love what your hubby did in going up to the guy. I’m sure you blew his mind!!!

  11. Diana says:

    Wow! What an inspiration…in facing the mountains that come in life…and in parenting! Thanks Adam, for letting your mom share your story!

  12. Deanne says:

    Way to stand firm, Adam!! Thanks for letting your mom share your story.
    One more thing to Mom and Dad….
    That, my friends, was some great parenting. Sometimes, we manage to get things right in spite of ourselves. God is good.

  13. Eva Dellinger says:

    Wow…this incident epitomizes the fact that we as parents need to hold our kids tightly at first, knowing that our goal is to let them go. Gradually, but certainly.
    It must have taken a lot to let Adam be the decision-maker on this one. But you did it!
    (I’m not minimizing Adam’s good decision, just relating to the Mommy’s p.o.v.!)

  14. Kim says:

    What a wonderful learning expierence for everyone that was involved. My son is only 7 and has just entered the 2nd grade and has already had his expierences with bullies. We try and try to teach him how to deal with them on a daily basis. It’s nice to read that there are others out there. Thanks so much for posting this.

  15. Mary says:

    Kuddos for Hubs!!! In my opinion, the reason that bullying is on the uprise, is because society allows it. It is not PC to correct someone elses child, teachers are not allowed to discipline, the media glorifies it. The firm handshake and the underlying messge will probably stay with the bully for a long time. Maybe just maybe, he will think twice before he bullies someone else. Great job Rock family for taking on a difficult mountain and conquering it!

  16. Fafa says:

    I am standing on top of the world, boasting, “that is MY nephew, and MY brother, and MY sister (in-law)!” I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you all as a part of my life!
    Love you BIG!

  17. summershine says:

    What a fantastic learning experience. I think you handled it perfectly. I hope I do as well when my kids start to deal with things like that. Good for you Adam for going back!

  18. Amanda Regan says:

    You tell your son from me that what he did was amazing.
    His friend “Dave” will never forget what he did & you have shown how you don’t need to be nasty to have fun.
    Well done you, you have the makings of being a wonderful MAN.

  19. Demeter says:

    Awwww….. what a fabulous story!
    And I would have LOVED to have seen “Chuck’s” face when your hubby started in on him! LOLOLOL

  20. Kellyn says:

    Such a good story! I can’t wait to share it with my 10 year old going into the new school year.
    Thank your son for sharing his story!

  21. Sincerely Anna says:

    Adam won’t likely forget this when God leads him to approach the next mountain and his strong legs will once again remind him of what he is capable of enduring. And God will bring him other Dave’s that need his friendship.
    Great story and wonderful parenting!!

  22. Gloria says:

    Yee ha! What a brave boy, a wise dad and a passionate mum! It’s good that it happened this way to Chuck because he will be able to reflect on it, and hopefully feel remorseful enough and be a better person.
    Now, University is bullying me. Would you be my mum and come over hear to box my professors’ ears? Cos my real mum would think I’m insane. Pretty please?
    I don’t want to hear that this is one of my mountains. Nonononononono!

  23. Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry says:

    Well. I have so many different emotions reading this post!
    Sadness and hurt for the way Adam was treated.
    Respect for the way Adam handled the situation.
    Admiration for how well you guys coached him on handling the situation.
    And finally, some satisfaction at the way your DH handled the last day.
    Thanks to you and to Adam for sharing this!

  24. Clemntine says:

    Darn you and FlyLady! Because of her, I have on makeup at 8:49am. Because of you, I went straight to the Ugly Cry.
    Precious story!

  25. Barbara H. says:

    Very, very wise way to handle it, to leave the choice with him but to talk the issue through along with things to think about. As a Mama Bear, I can imagine your feelings towards Chuck & Co.! šŸ™‚

  26. Carissa says:

    Wow! What a great kid you’ve grown! I hope that what I do now with my little ones will enable them to handle hard situations like these with such grace and dignity!

  27. jill says:

    that is a wonderful story… adam is a lucky boy and you and hubs really are so fortunate to have him and each other… i was also beaming and tearing at the same time. i guess that’s parenting in a nutshell.

  28. Dani says:

    That was awesome! I fought back tears!!! You made me look forward to the mountains in my son’s life that have yet to come!

  29. Lynne says:

    Okay, that’s a Readers Digest story if I’ve ever heard one! You truly need to submit that to their magazine. You all three showed tremendous courage and you and your husbanc showed great parenting skills. I don’t know how your husband kept his composure when talking to Chuck without boxing his ears!

  30. Anonymous says:

    You two guided him through this so perfectly. What a mature young man you have too. I can’t imagine the other lessons he will get to skip because he learned this one so well. So often I know I’m in a learning situation and choose to take the easy way out. God usually has to bring the circumstances around again until I actually “get it”. Your son gets to avoid all the repetitive learning of this lesson. I almost feel like I need to stand and clap! Yippee!

  31. Karen says:

    Tell Adam thanks for letting you share. My daughter is also 10 and just this past year she has had some similar experiences at church, of all places. I’m going to share this with her – so she can see that not only is she not alone, but that she is handling it the right way. Terrific story!

  32. GiBee says:

    Adam … I think you could publish your very own … Chicken Soup story! That was wonderful, and I hope that when my little boy is your age, that he will be as mature, and spiritually grounded as you are!
    Shannon and Hubs Dryer — great job parenting!

  33. Shelly says:

    I loved his comment regarding your posting this on the blog šŸ™‚
    And I’d be one proud mama too! Wait, I’d be proud of myself for leaving the boy be to fight his own fight too!

  34. diana/sunshine says:

    as a mother of a daughter who was bullied during a lot of her middle school years – and as a youthworker who sees the results of kids being bullied….
    this made my heart smile.
    you guys handled it great! hubs may have very well changed chuck forever.
    thanks for sharing.

  35. Barb says:

    What a great story, Shannon, as well as a great lesson to all of us. I love the way all of you handled this. I’d be so proud of him if he were my son.

  36. Kristi says:

    That’s really fantastic. I love the way everybody handled it. He learned from Mom and Dad, you learned from him, and Chuck learned from Hubs!

  37. Rebecca says:

    Ah! Dad’s are the best! (Mom’s too šŸ™‚ This story should be submitted to Reader’s Digest. It’s that good. Way to handle a situation Adam! You talked it over with your parents and then made your own choice. I see maturity and the reflection of the future man you will grow into already.

  38. Lucinda says:

    Great story Shan! You guys are so wise, and what an inspiration to those of us that are clueless in this whole parenting thing!

  39. Shannon Miller says:

    I know you’ve already gotten a ton of comments on this – I don’t even have time to read them all. But I wanted to tell you that I’ll be sharing this with hubby. We have a five year old little boy who is (all too) quickly reaching the age where Mama Bear has to back off a little. Thank you for sharing a wonderful example of how that can work!

  40. Julie says:

    Watching one of your children be bullied is one of the hardest things to go through as a mom I think. We went through this with our son a couple of years ago. He finally had to get rough (a little), physically, to stand up for himself. It wasn’t the optimal solution but, my goodness, did it work in this situation. No more problems.

  41. Mrs. Schmitty says:

    What a great story, I’ll remember it and use it if ever I should find the need with my own kids. I hope I never have to, but you, your hubby, and son handled this brilliantly.

  42. Holly says:

    What a powerful story. Thanks for your frank retelling of it, and thanks for the example of how to be a great parent to your children. Most of us do it by flying by the seat of our pants, and it’s encouraging to see someone do this important job so well.
    Kudos to Adam for going back to camp, and kudos to you and Hubs for not forcing him into a decision one way or the other.

  43. Wendy says:

    You can all be very proud of yourselves, you each handled the situation exactly as you needed to. I LOVE what your husband said to that boy, I hope it really made him think. Please, thank Adam for letting you share this with us.

  44. kimi says:

    1. you married well
    2. you are raising a son to stand up to challenges and in doing that you are doing your job as a GREAT PARENT!
    3. Tell Adam as a kid that was picked on in my younger years. God has a great sense of humor and he’ll probably end up being CHUCKs boss. šŸ˜‰

  45. Rebecca says:

    Love this story. Love how you all handled the situation. Love that your hubs greeted “Chuck” in a positive way, but also got his point across so strongly. LOVE IT!

  46. angeleyes Blue says:

    WOW! What a great story. As I wipe my eyes–I am reminded of having to step aside and silently support my own 2 children. I am right there with you both–There have been times when I have had to console myself and know that I could take this kid out in a minute but that it was not my fight. I have always been amazed that my kids come out in the end happy and secure in themselves.
    My son now in high school was having a VERY hard time last year with an older boy–Daddy and I asked him what he wanted us to do if anything? He said No he should probably handle it himself.
    HIMSELF? WHERE IS THIS SENIOR?! Kevin did say ‘mom what would you do?’ I looked at my son and I said ‘run’. ‘No Mom he won’t stop picking on me if I run’.
    I still think that running is good but I am mom and a woose. I finally asked him how things were going?
    ‘Mom he finally caught up with me yesterday’. ‘Yesterday?’
    He grabbed me around the neck and picked me up off the ground. He told me that he was going to hurt me REAL BAD. So I looked around and said OK?
    He told me again that he would pulverize me and grind me into the ground. I said OK?! He dropped me on the ground and walked away. He hasn’t bothered me since.
    Where is he–Let me have him. My son’s solution worked for him and he did call this other boy on his bluff but my son didn’t cry or beg not be hurt he just said OK.
    Parenting is hard work isn’t it. It was good to see that after all those years of teaching our son that he was able to do the right thing. He didn’t react in one way he proacted and made a potentially bad situation into something not so bad.
    He knows better than to fight.

  47. kris says:

    Great job Adam, and great job parents! What a tough one…I’ll remember this for a day when I’m sure I’ll need it.

  48. crystal says:

    You have such a creative husband! I love his words pictures and choice of words for the bully

  49. chickadee says:

    loved that. we all need encouraging stories like that to help guide us when our 10 year olds face the same thing. i’m so glad you shared it with us.

  50. Melanie says:

    Whew…I wanted to cry, laugh and scream whohoo after reading that! I can’t imagine how tough that must have been for you and your husband and little Adam…what a strong little boy he is! I love your husband’s response to the bully…delivered with grace and filled with such truth! Thanks for sharing!

  51. Angela says:

    Our oldest is also 10. Your story moved me to tears. How proud you must be of your young man. This is one summer and one mountain he will surely never forget.
    I must also say I admire your determination to let him work through this on his own. I would have been ready to jump in and bust their fannies! Way to go mom!

  52. slouching mom says:

    What a terrific boy. My 9-year-old was grouped with a bully at day camp this summer, and he came home perturbed and full of questions, but thankfully the bully was an equal-opportunity bully. He bullied everyone. So no one felt singled out, and in the end it was a wash. LOL!

  53. MsRebecca says:

    That is the most fabulous story, truly, Kudos to you and your husband for raising such a good kid and I loved your hubby’s approach.. good stuff!

  54. Kelley - O2BNAZ says:

    Priceless! Sounds like something my Dad would’ve done. You’re both brilliant parents. And you must be so proud of your son too!
    How much you wanna bet Chuck thinks twice about bullying again anytime soon?!

  55. Gego says:

    Adam is blessed with incredible parents. Parents who allow children to make their own decisions with full back up when that decision is excruciating for the parent and the child.
    I am so proud of Adam. He is on the path to being a special man. Well, done, parents, well done. Love y’all, Gego

  56. Katy says:

    Great story! I read it to my 10 year old (who remembers Adam from many years ago). It bothered him to hear his friend going through a hard time, but he was glad to hear how it ended. Thanks Adam for letting your mom share! I bet your story will help many other kids as well!

  57. Glam Boutique says:

    Such a great story! It’s hard to step back as a parent, my daughter went through a similiar situation…it was hard to watch my little 5 year old (now 7) go through that, but she’s stronger for it and “the bully” still apologizes to her.
    Thanks for sharing Adam!!

  58. Beth@sportsmomma says:

    OMG- did you have to make me cry at 8:30 in the morning!!! What a touching story! I have 9 yr old and 10 yr old boys that will be starting a new school this year and I’m already concerned about how it might go! Thanks for teaching me how to help them handle any problems!!!!

  59. Karen Putz says:

    I just sent this link to a mom whose son was bullied at camp last week. Wish we had known about the bullying as it was happening so that we could impress a similiar lesson on the kid who did the bullying…
    Way to go!

  60. Kim says:

    Wow, so many comments! But I wanted to leave one too. What a great story to be proud of. I heard the other day, when you are down in the valley or hard times, there are two mountains leading to the good times, you just have to pick which way to go. Glad you’re on the mountain top!

  61. T with Honey says:

    That is a very difficult and you have EVERY right to be proud of Adam. It took a lot of guts and strength to climb that mountain.
    Yeah, Hubs!! I wish he had been around to do the same for me when I was Adam’s age. What a positive way to address the situation!!

  62. Jane Anne says:

    That was a great story of triumph for all (Adam, Dad and Mom). As a mom I know it was hard to watch. For dad- wow, what wisdom! I just emailed the story to my hubby so he could read it.

  63. Jen says:

    What a great story, left tears in my eyes! I hope and pray my daughter will grow up to be that kind of person. What a sweet boy and a wonderful husband you have!

  64. Anonymous says:

    Being a teacher in a public school setting which embarrasses my 13 YO to no end, I always ask her if she wants me to listen or she wants me to handle it. More times than not, her answer is merely a listening ear. But I have been there enough that she knows her mama’s got her back.
    Way to go, Big Guy, for going back to camp. Way to go Hubs, for being so tactful!

  65. Ann G says:

    This will be something he will remember forever. What a wonderful way for dad to show his love for his son….
    Our little boys grow up soooo fast, don’t they?!!

  66. T.D. says:

    That is a wonderful ending! He is lucky that it was only one week instead of an entire school year. Bravo for all involved.

  67. Valeire says:

    Oh this is wonderful, Mom-you did good sitting back…..hope I have the guts to do that if we go through this! Adam-Beyond words for you son! Great job! Dad- wonderful wisdom for the situation…you did your job well!

  68. Valeire says:

    Oh this is wonderful, Mom-you did good sitting back…..hope I have the guts to do that if we go through this! Adam-Beyond words for you son! Great job! Dad- wonderful wisdom for the situation…you did your job well!

  69. michelle says:

    This is a beautiful story. I’m so glad Adam wanted you to share it. I just discovered your blog this morning and you already have me in tears! I can’t wait to share this story with my husband tonight. I also just read the toenail clippers vs. garbage disposal story and can so relate. I bet your chocolate covered dog would have been no match for my vaseline covered couch. hee hee.

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