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 Momma 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 very 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.

This post was originally published on August 9, 2007.

94 thoughts on “His Mountain

  1. Amber says:

    My Mamma Heart is SO proud of him! What a mature decision for only 10 years. I have to say, though, you should be just as proud of yourself for listening to that sometimes much quieter voice of instinct when the Mamma Bear is roaring. Great parenting–both you and your Hubs!
    This is a lesson that his own children will be able to learn from someday.

  2. Sam says:

    What a tough situation for everybody, you must so proud of how he handled it. A man who can look intimidating when he chooses is a good one to have, not to mention a boy who decides to face his struggles.

  3. Kool Aid says:

    Wow, that story brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry that your son had to go through that, but what a character building event! I’m not so sure I could have done the same thing as you if my children were in the same situation.
    He should be proud of himself.

  4. JLS says:

    I have been following your page for a few months now and really enjoy your writing. I was so thrilled to hear about your son and his victory. AMEN!
    Great job MOM & DAD!

  5. Pat says:

    What a great story! I’m so proud of your son and for both of you letting him make the decision. That will go a long way in the future when he has to make a hard decision and you won’t be there to help him figure out the right thing to do. You also trusted him to make the right decision which was so important to his self concept too! What great parents you both are!

  6. Kathy C. says:

    That is an awesome story. I love that your husband used the analogy of climbing mountains and getting stronger “legs” with each one. I especially love the way your hubby handled “Chuck” – way to go Dad! And kudos to your son for seeing the importance in not giving in and being there for a friend as well. Beautiful.

  7. Kookaburra says:

    I remembered this story from last year when you posted it… and it still brought tears to my eyes. My kids aren’t at that age yet, but I hope we can all handle that type of situation as well as your family did. Great job!

  8. Tiffanie says:

    Think it’s the pregnancy, but tears are seriously streaming down my face. We have three boys, and I worry a ton about them being bullied and picked on (cause I know it’s inevitable). This post has really encouraged me, thanks for pullin it out!!

  9. Cathy says:

    This brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart so much.
    Love it. Love the way you handled it, love your sons courage, love your husband’s wisdom.
    Good, good stuff.

  10. AmyG says:

    Yay for Adam for taking the hard step & not standing down to the bully. And I hope Hubs handshake gave that boy something to think about!

  11. Amy says:

    I remember how much I hated bullies around me, and this story brought tears to my eyes. What a smart child you have, and might I add that your husband’s response to “Chuck” was so memorable. You never know what kind of impact that will make on him as he learns to grow up.

  12. Rachel says:

    Way to go Adam – sounds like he made decisions with wisdom much bigger than his 10 years and you as parents helped him do that. I think waiting and letting them handle situations has to be the hardest part!

  13. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises says:

    Wow- what a sweet story! I’m crying!!! šŸ™‚ Mostly because I have a little boy, and I know how I would feel if someone were bullying him! But it sounds like by staying out of it a little bit, you really helped him grow! Thanks for sharing! šŸ™‚

  14. Julie says:

    What a wonderful lesson and response! The Mama Bear in me would have wanted to rare up as well! Your hubs and son handled it in a Christlike manner! Congratulations

  15. Kareah says:

    I’m so proud of your son…and your husband. What a wonderful story. The way your husband took up for him in such a subtle way but still allowed your son to keep his dignity…that experience will not be lost on him. I’m sure his love for his dad increased tremendously that day.

  16. April says:

    As a kid I was teased a lot. And my parents trusted me to make the right decisions too. Because I was a really sensitive kid my mom got me a book with comebacks in it… ONLY for use when being teased. As it turns out, but the time I got out of junior high the bullies left me and my friends alone, because I learned not only to stand up for myself, but for my friends too.
    Needless to say, highschool was MUCH better, my self esteem was MUCH higher, and I learned to not let how I felt about my self depend on only one group of people. Needless to say, I learned to have loads of friends so that when one group decided to be petty and exclusive I could simply go hang out with a different group šŸ™‚ I truely hope your son learns to do the same… sounds like he is well on his way šŸ˜€

  17. Tanna says:

    With tears welling up reading this reminds me of my son and the choices he will have to one day make. He is 7 now and has his own struggles and like your son, thoughtfully takes them into consideration.
    Kudos, for you for letting him make this huge leap while wanting to protect him. And what a great job your hubby did, because that little boy knows exactly what he was really saying.

  18. Stephanie says:

    wow. just wow.
    I totally would have wanted to go and smack that lil punk a new attitude.
    I’m so impressed with you you handled it and how you let your son handle it.
    A good lesson to us other mom’s of 10 year old boys!!

  19. Susan says:

    Way to go Adam!! I remember what that was like as a kid and I can honestly say I never handled it that well. He’ll benefit so much in life from what happened that week. And, I must say, you guys as parents handled it perfectly.

  20. stephanie says:

    I have to say dad’s response reminds me of “The Sound of Music” scene at the dinner table. What a great story – thanks for sharing!

  21. Therese says:

    In Romans 12, the Bible tells us: “Never repay injury with injury…do not avenge yourselves, leave that to God’s wrath…If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. By doing this, you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (vs. 17-21)
    Your story makes these verses come to life. Way to go!!!

  22. Rhonda says:

    Oh those coals of kindness… We are all proud of Adam for standing firm, for you and your husband supporting him through it, and for your husband’s great example of not returning hurt for hurt, but making Chuck aware both that people are aware of his actions and that there is a different way to handle oneself. Thanks for sharing –

  23. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    Adam sounds like a tremendous 10 year old (I have one myself) but how could he be otherwise with the example dad obviously sets for him. What an amazing gift it is to be able to parent and then see that “hey, we’re doing something right!”

  24. miriam says:

    I was bullied through jr. high by a group of girls who had previously been my friends. (People are doofy sometimes.) Now that we’re all adults I love that I can look back on those times without cringing. Because a few of them have gotten back in touch, I know that’s not the case for the bullies. I actually feel a little badly for THEM- Adam’s dad was exactly right in his response. Smart family!
    I’m so using that mountain analogy with my boys when the time inevitably comes.

  25. Mrs. Bubba says:

    A wonderfully mature 10 year old who has stronger “legs” for having climbed the mountain, what a wonderful gift you’ve given him by letting him decide. And “Way to go, dad” for throwing Chuck a curveball out of left field to have him stop and think…

  26. Octamom says:

    There is something so powerful about a kid doing the right thing and the Daddy Person also stepping up–I remember my daddy doing something similar for me with a mean boy at school–it was so huge for me to see my dad in action–

  27. Janell says:

    What a sweet story! This brought tears to my eyes. Your kids have a GREAT dad and your son will never forget that! He learned some wonderful life lessons! Awesome!!

  28. Veggiemomof2 says:

    How it must have broken your heart to see this & not get involved! Way to go Adam & I think what “Hubs” did in the end taught Chuck a better lesson than anything Adam could have done!
    Sometimes kids need to remember that the runt of this year, could be the linebacker of next year šŸ™‚

  29. Amy in TN says:

    I remember crying the first time I read this. Now, my eyes are welling with tears again. It’s the last line….PERFECT. You are a great writer!

  30. Courtney says:

    Way to go to listen to your inner voice to silence out the Mamma Bear. Man I bet that was hard. Way to go to your son! Its hard for me to call him Adam when that isn’t his name…weird. Anyway, he is awesome and I bet “Chuck” is wondering what happened and maybe will think through his actions next time! šŸ™‚

  31. Gretchen says:

    Beautifully executed & recounted. The meeting between Hubs & Chuck reminded me of the scene in The Sound of Music where Maria essentially kills the children with kindness for bullying her on her first day.
    Sounds to me as if your son has rec’d excellent climbing gear and training prep from his parents.

  32. Sabrina says:

    Good stuff. I’m proud of all of you. That super big word – integrity – comes to mind reading this story. Something I desperately want for my own children. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Candice says:

    Adam should be very proud of himself, and surely proud of his dad who put that bully in his place for sure! That fellow will NEVER forget that week at summer camp! He deserved every bit of that and more! Good for Adam and good for dad, too!

  34. jenifriend in Kansas says:

    I truly teared up reading this! What a very inspiring and motivating way to handle a bully! An extra kudos goes out to Hubs for “killing” the bully with kindness…I would like to hope he made a bigger impact on the bully than on anyone in this story.

  35. Rachel says:

    Beautiful. Dads like your husband are priceless. Boys like your son are 1 in a billion. Thanks Adam for being brave when it would have been so easy to give up!

  36. kristen says:

    What a wonderful young man you are raising. And it is apparent that you and your husband are fantastic guiding hands. I think Adam will always look back at this time as an example of digging your heels in and doing what needs to be done.
    And I just want to say that your husband was brilliant in his dealing with Chuck. Maybe Chuck too will look back at this time as a great lesson to him. We can only hope.

  37. Chel's Leaving a Legacy says:

    Wow. Way to go, Mom. Excellent employment of self control on that one!
    I have a 10-year old boy; I can only pray that my “Hubs” and I will handle this situation as well as you guys did WHEN it comes up…I’m quite sure it will eventually. Awesome post.

  38. Dawn says:

    Thank you and thank your son for sharing that story…I am sending my own to middle school this year, and am fearful of the bullying…it’s good to hear that you son stood his ground…and let dad toss in a little “humph” for him…hopefully that kid will think about his behavior…or not…you son should be very proud!

  39. Polka Dot Mommy says:

    Way to handle a tough situation! Good job Mama and Papa Bear! Not only did your son learn some valuable lessons, but I trust, so did that little bully-boy. He probably doesn’t have a loving family situation at home. My heart aches for him and rejoices at the strength of character displayed by both your child and your husband!

  40. Sydni says:

    This brought tears to my eyes too. What a great story. Way to be brave, Adam. Great parenting, I hope to be this good when my boy is older and faces these situations.

  41. peggy lee says:

    This is a great inspirational story. I have learned a lesson here too(I’m a mom to 4 boys). You both did a great thing as parents helping your son deal with a difficult situation. I’ll be waiting for a Reader’s Digest article in 10 years from the bully’s perspective on the week, culminating with the conversation he had with your husband and how it changed his life!!

  42. Dena says:

    Wow. Just wow.
    My son is 8, and I am totally going to read him this story.
    Thank you so much for sharing it!
    Adam, you mountain climber, you!

  43. Marin says:

    I cried when I read this story. What a mature 10 year old you have. I draw inspiration from the way you handled it. My oldest is only 22 months. He loves to follow big kids around, and my heart already breaks when they tell him to go away. This parenting thing is hard!

  44. Faye says:

    It’s so sad that bullies are a part of life, no matter at what age. Adam is a brave boy to see it to the end of the week and your hubs handling Chuck like that??!!….well, that’s priceless. Score one for a closer bond between son and Dad!

  45. Gina says:

    That made me cry. My son has been bullied and as a parent, it is so hard to deal with. When you have kids, you know about the sleepless nights and the crying and the diapers, but you are never ready for the broken hearts and broken spirits. It’s the hardest part of parenting.

  46. warillever says:

    I am so proud of *all* of you –Mom, Dad and Adam.
    I don’t know that my husband and I would be strong enough to keep out of it, but I can only hope that my son will have that kind of maturity when he is ten.

  47. Sassy says:

    I LOVE your story so much that I would like to talk about it on my blog.
    You all made GREAT choices. WOW.
    Thank you for sharing this with us, Adam.

  48. carrie says:

    I’m completely blown away with how you and Hubby handled this situation. With wisdom, and patience and your mature little 10-year old is living proof of what an amazing job you are doing with him.
    Loved, loved, loved this.

  49. Wani says:

    Wow… what a great lesson to learn! It sounds like you two handled it really well as parents too. It is so hard to hold back from taking things into our own hands. Sometimes handling a situation on their own is just what a kid needs. Good job!

  50. Stacy says:

    What a wonderful story of your son and your wonderful parenting. He did indeed climb a mountain this summer and he should be very proud of himself. There is no rhyme or reason why bullies act the way they do. Adam didn’t allow them to win, and he is the better person for it.

  51. Lizzie says:

    What a great story! It’s so hard to let them learn these lessons on their own, but it’s so good for them.
    I had to lol about your husband meeting the bully;)!

  52. golightly says:

    Two people referred me over here, and after the other day of parenting challenges for both of us with a spirited 3-year-old son, I read this and cried. It was beautiful, a breath of fresh air, a reminder to keep up the hard work so that it will pay off some day. At least that’s what I hope for.
    Thank you reposting and encouraging.

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