We were sitting and chatting, a seven year old and a four year old and I, about Hallowe'en. I was hearing about costumes while the kids were decorating our apartment with black and orange streamers. There were skulls and flashing eyeballs to be placed, just right, around the apartment. I had to work to ensure that my wheelchairs weren't wrapped up in orange and black! The girls were talking about really scary things ...
Both girls like scaring themselves a bit so they went over the top, if that's possible on Hallowe'en, about ghouls and ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Interspersed with all that were giggles and laughter. Finally the apartment looked suitably scary, it kind of looked like parts of the apartment were behind spooktacular crime scene tape.
Later, we went to get their nails done, there is a wonderful salon nearby that is really welcoming to the girls and they have women there who can paint designs on tiny little finger nails. Ruby opted for black polish with webbing and spiders, Sadie opted for even pumpkin faces painted over orange polish. Again, when we left the store, we chatted about scary things.
At one point I asked the girls, "What do you think the scariest thing in the whole world is?" Ruby didn't take a second to answer, she said, "Bullies." Sadie thought for a moment and said, "Ruby's right bullies are really scary."
I have to admit, this wasn't the answer I expected. It was the answer I should have expected but, even so, it took me by surprise.
Bullies: people who are mean on purpose.
Bullies: people who hurt others deliberately.
Bullies: people who intentionally demean others.
I understand why the girls felt that way. Mummies and zombies and vampires and witches, all of whom they will see tonight as they go out to gather candy in big sacks, they are the fun kind of scary. It's real people who do really mean things to purposely hurt - that's what's scary.
Almost immediately after Ruby's answer and Sadie's agreement our attention was caught by something else. We continued on our way.
I disagree with the girls about the scariest thing in the world. To me, bullies aren't the scariest thing ... what scariest is the inaction of those who can but don't take action when bullies bully. It frightens me that bullies seem to act with tacit acceptance of their behaviours. It frightens me that bullies even have the slightest opportunity to frighten two little girls.
Give me a zombie, give me two ... but save me from those who won't do what they should do to stop hurt, harm and fear.
Here's to a night of ghastly spirit's and the howling of yawning graves ... let's just make sure that on the morrow, we confront the every day evil of purposeful hurt.