The kid comes home from school roughed up again, hating the world, hating you for having him, hating the horrible age with all its rough edges and cruel children. There’s little you can do to help. There are things you can’t say. Things you can’t say because you know they would be poor parenting in spite of the fact that you consider them to be true. Like the fact that about ten percent of the people that you will meet, child, are bad, plain and simple. Evil little shits who will get pleasure from torture from now until the end of their days. Most of them will be losers and will fall off but others will rule the world. You will need to develop strategies, child, to deal with them. In all likelihood, they will be stronger than you in the way that brutality is always stronger than mercy. You can’t tell the boy that he needs to fight back, that he needs to become stronger, that he needs to hurt the bully any way he can, because you don’t want the child to enjoy inflicting pain on others. Yet you wish he could put needles under the bully’s skin that would tear at the little creep from the inside, endlessly. You ought not tell the child to hide his tears because you know that those who are in touch with their feelings are ultimately stronger. Yet inside you are screaming because you know that the bullies always smell weakness on other children and tear at it like jackals at the wound. You could talk to the teacher or the parents of the little monster but you know that that will lead nowhere, to even more severe ambushes, round dark corners and out of sight. You would like to have a few words with the other parents, to tell them what a miserable job they have done with their bad seed which has grown into a vicious weed, but you know that it would lead nowhere. In spite of yourself you wish for a tragic accident involving a school bus and a bully bragging in the street. And your child is weeping in the next room, bruised and bleeding. Your efforts are futile and he won’t open the door and there is nothing you can do about this misery. This will pass, child, this will pass. You prepare some platitudes, saddened by the knowledge that you can no longer protect him. You open the newspaper but you cannot turn the pages.