"Do you want to talk to Ruby?" asked Mike. She had been watching 'Rudolf the Red Nosed Raindeer' on television and was willing to talk because the show was paused. I told him that I'd like to and she came on the phone full of reindeer and reindeer games. She explained with the zeal of a scientist who'd made a discovery, that Rudolph was born with his red nose. We talked, and she occasionally sang, through the story. Then she said that most of the kids in her school like Rudolph because he helped Santa get through the storm and deliver presents.
In Ruby's view of the world, the important part of the song, isn't the end. "The other reindeer laughed at him, and called him names, they wouldn't let him play with them when they played their games!' she explained to me. "Just because his nose was different. They were bullies and they hurt Rudolph's feelings."
I'm afraid I didn't handle this discussion well, as I was unprepared for it and so I focused on the ending. "But in the end they all loved him, and shouted out with glee!" There was a pause, "But Rudolph will always remember that they called him names, he will always remember they wouldn't play with him. When that girl was mean to me, she likes me now, but I still remember."
I turned more serious and said, "Yes, it's nice that they came to see Rudolph as having something to offer, but he will always be different from them and will always remember what they did."
The conversation took a sudden shift. Ruby told me that she'd bought for her Dad a tall Rudolph decoration and it has a red nose. She said it wasn't Rudolph when he was a boy but when he's a Dad. "Do you think that any of Rudolph's children have red noses?" I asked, and she said, certainly, "No." And then the conversation trialed off.
Just before I hung up she said, "Um, Dave ..."
"If Rudolph has a child with a red nose too, he'd have to love him a lot at home because he's going to get teased a lot at school, right?"
"Yes, Rudolph's little reindeer child would need to know that he was loved for his red nose and he'd need to understand why the other reindeer teased him."
"That's right!" she said.
After we hung up and I told Joe about the conversation, he said, "You know exactly where your next conversation with her will start, don't you."
It's time Ruby realized why bullies bully, and I'm ready for the question.