DR. WALLACE: Your column might have saved my life. Before I took the advice, you gave to another boy, I had thoughts of killing myself. I'm 14 and very big for my age, but not very coordinated. In physical education, I'm always the last one chosen to play on a team. Because I was considered to be a sissy, a lot of kids called me names. One boy not only called me names, but made me give him my lunch money or he would hit me.
I told my teachers and even the principal about this, but nobody seemed to care enough to eliminate the problem. I hated going to school and would fake being sick just to stay home. My grades were poor. My mom kept telling me to walk away from the guys who were bothering me. I don't have a father, so I listened to my mother's advice, but deep down, I knew it would never work.
Then I read your column where you said that you detested violence, but when a bully uses you for a punching bag, defend yourself, even if it means that you will be suspended from school.
Last month, the bully slapped my face and kicked me in the leg because I wouldn't give him any money. All of a sudden, I remembered what you said: "When all else fails, defend yourself." I pushed the bully down and jumped on him, hitting wherever I could. I got in four or five good blows to his head before a teacher broke up the fight.
Yes, I was suspended for three days, but it was worth it. The bully no longer bothers me, and the kids at school are now showing me a little respect. My grades are getting better, and I now look forward to getting an education.
Thanks for your advice. You now have a fan for life! — Anonymous, Brooklyn, New York
ANONYMOUS: For those who say that teens who are being bullied should not physically defend themselves, but instead "turn the other cheek," it's obvious that they have never been physically bullied. Those teens being bullied live in fear. It's a horrible feeling that can lead to psychological problems — and even health issues. Bullying at school can be eradicated by a school administration that considers bullying a major campus problem.
I'm thrilled the days of you being a victim of a bully have ended and that you now have respect and your grades are getting better. Thanks for being a fan of mine for life. I'll never forget your letter, and please know that I am rooting for you to succeed fabulously in your life. I believe you have turned a major corner and are now well on your way to sustained success.
TROUBLING TIME (MANAGEMENT)
DR. WALLACE: My dad told me to have his shirt ironed by noon sharp on Saturday. I finished my homework first, and then I did a great job of ironing and was done with his shirt at 12:07 p.m. But now, I'm grounded for seven days, one day for each minute I was late. Do you think this is fair? — Slightly Late, Pittsburgh
SLIGHTLY: Good thing you were not an hour late! A two-month grounding would truly be a bit much.
Do I think your dad's discipline was fair? Well, let's say that my daughter was seven minutes late ironing my shirt. Would I ground her for seven days? No, I'd have told her "thank you" and given her a big hug. So, yes, I do feel your punishment was excessive. A one-day grounding, just to set an example, would have been more than enough for your father to impose on you, in my opinion.
There is also another lesson you can learn here: time management. In hindsight, you likely knew that your father can be strict, and you could have chosen to iron his shirt first so that the task would be completed ahead of time. Then you could have gone on to work on your homework Saturday morning or early afternoon. Remember to consider time management and project sequencing the next time you are assigned an important task — especially by your father.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.