I almost didn’t sign up this year. After last year’s show, some kids started bullying me about the costume I wore onstage. The photo to the right was taken during last year’s talent show. The costume is the same one I wore in a local youth circus show — a black sequined jacket over a white T-shirt and black pants.
Personally, I don’t see what was wrong with my costume, and I don’t think anyone should be bullied over what they wear or how they look.
So far, I have managed not to get into a fight over the names I’ve been called even though one of the bullies pushed me down in the hall and I wound up with a concussion.
He got a one-day school suspension but hasn’t stopped calling me names. It has been hard to keep my hands (and my feet) to myself. But my karate teacher always said to keep the punches and kicks in the dojo or the competition ring, so I did. I admit that I’ve thought about showing the bullies that I may be short, but I’m stronger than I look thanks to all the hours I spend at the gym working on circus.
So I decided that I was going to show off a talent that might make the bullies think twice about calling me names: knife juggling. I started working on my routine in August of last year, as soon as I got a new set of juggling knives from Dubé.
From September until Christmas, the principal had this picture of me posted on the office door along with an article about my knife juggling in the Lake Highlands Advocate. Since the whole school knew about my knife juggling, I was surprised when the PTA volunteer in charge of the talent show sent an email to my grandmother that said, “Knives are prohibited weapons, and the school district has a zero-tolerance policy on bringing weapons to school.”
I thought about dropping out because I was mad, and only had only a few days to come up with a brand new act. I decided to perform anyway, but I don’t think it’s fair. My knives look like machetes, but they’re juggling props from Dubé Juggling.
They’re 20 inches long, and weigh about a pound each. You can cut yourself on them if you catch the tip (here’s a video of me doing that the first day I tried it), but they’re not weapons. I guess you could use the handle to hit someone in the head — but you could do that with a book or a bottle of water, and school doesn’t ban those.
The good news is that there will be less than three weeks of school left after the talent show, so the bullies won’t have very long to pick on me after the talent show.
I don’t think it’s fair that the school counselor told me that if I didn’t want to be bullied, I should cut my hair, avoid wearing clothes that make me stand out, and not wear a necklace or the handmade friendship bracelets several girls gave me. Why don’t they tell the bullies that it’s wrong to call someone a fag, or say that they’re gay for no reason? (I can’t write down all of the names I’ve been called, because I’d get in trouble.)
The thing that made me the maddest (besides the knife-juggling thing) is that after one bully got suspended, he changed the story of what happened. Instead of just shoving me in the hallway, suddenly he started telling everyone he “punched me out” after I mouthed off to him.
A lot of people believed him, but I know what happened. He just ran by and shoved me. Someday, he’s going to hurt someone worse. All year long his story of what he did to me has been growing, and he never stops talking about how I was “too scared” to fight back.
I’m not scared. I just don’t want to get suspended.
For this year’s talent show, I wore another costume with sequins on it. My new act is called Antigravity: Juggling in the Dark. I’m sure the school bullies will have something to say about it anyway. I am tired of being bullied. I hope they stick to name-calling.
I don’t think I will just stand there and do nothing if someone touches me again. The last guy I punched (in a karate belt test sparring match) wound up on the ground throwing up. The one before that was a black belt more than a foot taller than me, and he went home with some bruises in the shape of my foot on this chest. I really don’t want to get into a fight at school, and I won’t start anything. But I’ve had enough of the bullies at my school.
I hate going to a school where the teachers and staff protect bullies and treat victims as if we did something wrong by not “fitting in” with the cliques that run the school. If the middle school is no better, I am going to ask to be home schooled.
Banning my juggling knives in the name of “safety” after allowing me to be bullied and shoved and injured was just too much. Enough already!