The Artist and The Bully

“Nobody’s Special!”

“Nobody’s Special!” The Bully poured these words over a Grade 2 student at my daughter’s school. Verbal lava. Tears marched down her cheeks and into her soul.

My daughter could see the little girl crying, but older students are not allowed to go into that part of the playground. I am proud to say that my daughter broke the rules and listened to the tears instead of the teachers.

We don’t know how the conversation between the two became an attempt to beat-down a soul. I believe that somewhere inside a Bully is a good heart submerged in tears.

My daughter took the ground between the Bully and the one with tears (We’ll call her Violet). She asked Violet what is wrong.

Violet’s tears described her pain, “The Bully is saying that no one is special.”

My daughter became a counsellor, “Violet, what are you good at?”

“Piano and Singing,” Violet said with quiet confidence.

Words can cut and words can heal. And some words are electric… connecting with something larger, more powerful. When Violet said “Piano and Singing,” the words connected to a power that surged inside my daughter.

Earlier in the week, my daughter cried her own tears. “All my friends are better than me. I don’t fit anywhere.” She told my wife how her friends are special because they are popular, or good at things like sports, art or running. But my daughter didn’t feel special. She felt rejected and she nursed the pain of being picked last.

CrayonsWhen Violet said that she knows she is good at Piano and Singing, that moment became electric. It was a God Moment. We think of these moments as an instant when heaven seems to bend down and touch the earth. It happened, in the schoolyard, with my daughter on the scene.

My daughter plays piano and sings and she said the same words to my wife, “I am not special.” She felt the surge.

She looked at the Bully and asked a question, “What are you good at?” Probably not the question I would ask a Bully (“Why don’t you screw off?” is more my style). The Bully said nothing and walked.

By now a fist of a crowd had gathered and another child offered some encouragement, “I’m good at Gymnastics.”

Like iron to magnet, something brought the Bully back. She stomped back into the group with steam in her ears and piss in her voice, “You’re not allowed in this part of the park… Nobody’s special!”

By now, the Bully’s words held as much power as my iPhone at 10pm. Nothing else to say, she walked away.

Gymnastics girl spoke to my daughter, “You’re a good grade 6’er.”

Stories are like a river because they can move you. I was moved because it was as if my daughter was pushed by circumstance to decide who she would listen to: The Bully or The Artist. We each have to fight this fight in our minds, listening to our own Bully or our Artist. And here it was, lived out on the schoolyard.

As a father, I hoped my children would never face verbal bullets from a Bullies gun like I faced them. I was a chubby kid who was used to being picked last. You get the feeling there is no place for you.

The story moved me because I know adults who continue to stand toe to toe with their Bully. Most of us face an inner Bully, whose words are a cesspool of schoolyard put downs, personal failures and fears that we are not special. What I find interesting in this story is that what the children used to defend themselves was ART. Nothing wrong with a little Math, but for me Art kicks ass.

So how do you listen to your Artist?

  • Art kicks ass. You and I are special because of our art. Dont’ just think of art as crayons, pencils or dance shoes. Art is whatever you do that moves you and touches someone else. I love the quote by Seth Godin from The Icharus Deception:

“An artists is someone who does something for the first time, something human, something that touches another.”

  • Go ahead and break the rules. Teachers may have told you not to break the rules, but let the tears call you. Break the rules because there is no fence that separates you and your dreams. Making friends with our inner Rebel is really important because The Bully likes to quote the rules so they can put us back in our place. Go ahead, break the rules.

“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked…No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.” Seth Godin

  • You never cry alone. Your pain is shared and your tears come from a well that plunges deep into our humanity. You are not alone in your pain and sharing it will connect you with other people who feel the same way. Sharing your pain may help someone else to find their Artist and kick some ass.
  • Listen to your Crayon Whisperer. We all need a Source, a place to plug in and feel the current surge. Call it anything you want: God Moments, your Crayon Whisperer or your inspiration. Plug in daily and anytime you need it. The world needs your voice.

“Courage is the willingness to speak the truth about what you see and to own what you say.” Seth Godin

  • Strengths are found through moments of risk. Having the courage to stand up, speak out, share and help others are like a magnifying glass that show us our better selves, our greater capabilities. Your strengths will leap when you do.

Join me and share your story! Please like, share and tell your own story.

Keep it real


For a little more about Seth Godin’s book, the Icharus Deception see the You Tube interview below. I don’t recommend a lot of books, but this one is for real.

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