My name is Claire Krelitz (sophomore) and I am a reformed Elementary school bully.
My greatest invention was a game I titled “The Penalty Box.” After lunch, my group of players eagerly ran to our classroom’s bathroom before our teachers — all in their mid-60s — could restore order. In those few precious, anarchic minutes, The Penalty Box was born. The designated contestant entered a bathroom stall. Her objective? Simply to get out. This would surely be easy, as the stall door technically remained unlocked. The ruse? The rest of my pawns surrounded the stall. Our mission was to Keep. Her. In.
“Bullying” is a blanket term. Reflecting on my behavior from grades three through six, it is clear that I was one of them — a bully. I was overtly aggressive and rowdy with a twisted sense of humor. While inventive, do I write my actions off as the product of an “overactive imagination?” This I do not.
Until my ultimate demise in sixth grade, I was a mastermind. I knew how to play my hand. I perfected the art of using my peers as pawns in games I devised for my own enjoyment. I lived in the classical realist elementary school social scene. If I wasn’t on top, someone else would be — survival of the fittest.
When I said “Go!” the girl in The Penalty Box tried to outsmart us. Usually she started by attempting to crawl under the stall’s door. She was met with our feet. Defeated, she would quickly crawl up the toilet, her body hanging over the stall’s wall. She was pushed back down. Thinking we were distracted, she would go straight for the door. She found a barricade built of third-grade bodies. I loved and laughed every single second.
There were other games, equally twisted, all teetering on the edge of harmful or “too far.” Through them all, I remained unblamed and unscathed. This would all change during one fateful sleepover birthday party at the Waterpark of America.
I wasn’t familiar with most of the girls at the sleepover, but I saw this as an advantage as they weren’t accustomed to my clever, conniving tricks. After a long day at the waterpark, we retreated to our hotel room. Sometime after 2 a.m., I saw an opportunity.
I fixated on the complimentary bucket of once solid ice that had now melted. My plan was to dump the ice water on one sleeping girl’s face. Instead of delegating the task to a follower, I stepped up to the plate myself. This would elevate me to heroic status among a new group of friends, or so I thought.
I took the bucket, tiptoed towards the sweet, peaceful girl and with less hesitation than there should have been, I dumped the entire bucket’s contents of ice cold water onto her face. I felt no fear. I did not think my actions could reap repercussions. I was sadly mistaken.
She shot up from her slumber and before I could register what was happening, she was already punching me in the face. That’s right — actual punches to my face and head. Despite my role as the mastermind, I was rendered physically defenseless. I did not know how to throw a single punch. As the beating continued, the once strong and less than noble leader slowly walked backward and slumped against the hotel room television. I signaled surrender by covering my face with my hands, but my opponent did not register any white flags. With my face covered, her strategy shifted to bopping me on the head with the bottoms of her clenched fists until I began to weep.
Like Achilles, Macbeth and Judas, in the end, the joke was on me. While the urge to relapse into my former bullying ways still comes every once and while, I have been clean since the date of my final bullying act and subsequent demise.
I lived, I lost but I learned.