Playing Along


(Photo: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)


He wasn’t going to win this game.

He learned that much from many

That he had


And he did not care

To have his face made pie

Against another Juke


So he played along,

As if it was all

A big





For the dVerse 10th Anniversary (!!) poetry quadrille challenge: Juke

Dedicated to all who had to play along, because that was the safer – if fake – choice.



42 thoughts on “Playing Along

    • Thank you, Ali! It is a truth to too many, alas, isn’t it? We can hope that one day it won’t be. Bullying is taught by example, and is reinforced by silence and mockery. It is not something that must be. We can stop it. As a society.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you again, Ali, and yes. We can. Each of us. Help. It matters every time someone stands up for the person who is being victimized. It matters every time we bring to the light the shaming that so often takes place under the cowardice of dark corners and unprotected spaces.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Awww… the poor little tyke. I like to think he will learn how to get past this and become the strong and assertive one he is already making it look like. I had a friend who, when one of the girls laughed at her or tried to make fun of her would just laugh in her face… Could not have been easy but she chose to not let it define her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for her for not letting it define her. Different kids (and people, for grown ups can get bullied, too), find different ways to manage this kind of cruelty. Some grow out of it stronger. Some grow broken. It will be a better place if we can minimize the normalization of mistreating fellow human beings or finding their misery funny. Oy. And … yes, I think that little one will be okay!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Not for the person who is being bullied. Then it is not a joke at all. But, yeah, I hear ya that sometimes the secret is that it IS a joke to the bullies, a kind of pastime by cruelty, a sense of being taller via standing on someone else. There is much we can do, as a society, to end the normalization of bullying and to call it as it is – a joke to the cruel, a harm to the vulnerable.


    • I hope so. It sounds like at the very least he knows the rules, and knows it is not about him, but about them. The real remedy to bullying is in changing society’s fascination with laughing at the misery of others, ending the minimization of cruelty as “just a joke” that someone is “too sensitive to take”, and changing the way power is equated with ‘winning’ at the expense of others. We have a bit of a path to do yet as a species …


  2. We all have to do what we need to do to survive. As adults we have more power. As kids, we are at the mercy of the people and institutions we exist within. I hope this youngster got through ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ingrid. Yes, it often starts young, and it is something kids learn …. from what they see, from those who bullied them, from those who enable bullying, from those who find glee in another’s misery, from those who teach that hate is acceptable and that one is either a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’, ugh. So, yes, it is a reasonable thing to worry where a bully comes from, and what they themselves had seen and endured or were allowed (and sometimes encouraged) to do. Not just by their parents. Society, too, often allows it … glorifies it, and minimizes its impact …

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Claudia. Yes, bullying is one of those things people want to believe is “no big deal” or is “kids being kids” when in fact it is abuse, and it is cruel, and it damages both the bully and the bullied, often the spectators, too. We can do better.


  3. This touched me .. deeply. As the mother of a 59 year old son who is developmentally disabled, bullying and taunting began in elementary school. Luckily he had a brother one year older and a brother one year younger. Kids learned to leave Carl Dehner the hell alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Helen, for reading and for your comment, which puts all this in a very real context. Bullying and taunting are something that too many adults tolerate or minimize, and by that teach children that it is okay to cause misery to others for the sake of ‘entertainment by cruelty.’ It is not inevitable. It can be changed. I’m glad Carl had protectors. I wish he hadn’t needed any.


    • Thank you, Mish. It is more than just parents who are responsible for instilling, supporting, and modeling empathy. All of us are. Children learn what society enables, what it glorifies, what it laughs at (whole series that are based on rooting to see who ‘fails’ or gets mocked or tricked this time around), what it votes for, what it allows. What and who it makes famous. We must all do better, model better, if we want to save the children suffering they don’t need to endure.


      • Absolutely!! I have always been opposed to and shocked at what the media and society is allowed to feed our children. My kids were not allowed to watch this type of programing. Shows like South Park and Married with Children ( in their childhood days) were horribly warped, yet their friends were all watching. As an early childhood educator, I’ve observed many behaviors stemming from this type of influence. There is also the instant gratification factor with technology which doesn’t require patience, creativity, problem solving or real social skills. Truly a complex issue, but you’re right, each of us is individually responsible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly. And … alas, we have adults who model unacceptable bullying behavior in their words, tweets, comments, and general demeanor toward those they disagree with or don’t like or don’t want to allow a voice to or just plain want to put down just because. The children are watching. Always. When the supposed ‘people in charge’ glorify insults and bullying behavior, it is harder for children to learn why that is not acceptable (not to mention, teaches them that they better be on the perpetrator ‘side’ or risk being the victim). We have a lot to do to help change the dialogue to civility, kindness, empathy, and compassion.


      • Ah, but that’s where I’m hopeful, because from the comment here alone, we can see how many GOOD PEOPLE are passionate about ending bullying. 🙂 Most people are good. Most know something that’s wrong when they see it. That’s good! Thanks, Mish!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sanaa, Yes, there are always consequences, often ones that are lasting, sometime life-long. Also for the bully. Often for the spectators who were witnesses, accomplices, silent observers who enabled and/or worried that if they did not participate (actively or tacitly), they’d be next. Young ones can rise above it, and they’ll do it better if we give them a better model. It is never too late to be kinder to each other, to be mindful of what we laugh at, what we cheer on, what we allow or minimize or look away from or explain away. Thank you for reading and commenting!


    • One hopes, though sadly we know this is not always the case. Many carry deep scars in their mind and in their long-term health, from the chronic stress and wear-and-tear of bullying during childhood. Hopefully this lone WILL win, and leave the bullies and their ugly deeds behind. Hopefully he’ll have some who’d help him, who’d stand with him, who’d support him. Thank for reading and commenting, Bjorn!


    • Indeed he shouldn’t, but sometimes this is a way to survive bullying. As a society, we need to do better to confront bullies, protect victims, and hold ourselves accountable to the ways we enable (by witnessing, minimizing, looking the other way) bullying in all its forms. Amen to one day no one feeling they must play along, or experience worse abuse.


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