Dillon was sent to the principal’s office again. This time he had to meet with a school resource officer. Not a policeman, but a retired clergyman, Solomon.
“Good afternoon, Dillon. How are you doing today?”
“I’ve been better. I don’t know why I’m here. Or, I do but I don’t think I’m wrong.”
“What happened?” Solomon knew something about why kids were asked to see him, but asking questions helped illustrate how the child saw what was happening.
“I got detention for beating up one of those weird kids in their hats. By why can’t they just dress like everybody else?”
“I see. Why does he wear the hat?”
“I don’t know. But shouldn’t want to fit in with everyone else? I wouldn’t wear weird stuff to school. I’d get beat up. So that’s what I did to him.” Dillon presented his case as logically as he could.
Solomon responded calmly, “I see. Do all the children at school look like you?”
“Mostly. It’s a charter school.” Dillon said. Solomon realized that this wasn’t going where it needed to as quickly as it needed to. Time to take a walk.
Solomon asked, “Dillon, how about some fresh air? If you come with me for a moment, I want you to see something.” Solomon told a receptionist they would be taking a little walk.
They walked down the street when Solomon had them stop in front of a patch of wildflowers. The town had planted them to help the bee population. Now that it was spring, every color of the rainbow was in bloom: lemon yellow dandelions, pink coneflowers and milkweed, blue bachelor buttons, magenta cosmos, lilac verbana.
Solomon stared at them, then turned to Dillon. “It’s nice isn’t it?”
The boy was unphased and disinterested. “I guess, but it looks messy.”
“Do you think this field look as nice if the milkweed demanded the space all to itself?”
“What is milkweed?”
Solomon offered another example, “That pink cluster over there. See the striped caterpillar on it?”
“Yes, now I do.” Dillon answered.
Solomon looked at him and asked again, “What about the dandelions, what if they decreed the space was all theirs?”
Dillon shrugged and said,“I don’t know what a dandelion looks like either.”
Solomon pointed it out. “It’s that dark yellow one over there. Could the other plants change color to comply with what the dandelion wanted? Would other bugs and birds be able to survive with just one species of plant?”
“I don’t know, maybe not.” Dillon seemed bored.
Solomon, sensing he was running out of time, stopped with the questions and got to his point. “But you see nature coexists beautifully with differences. Everything looks different and there’s a purpose for all of them. We’re creatures on this planet, too, and we must do the same. It should come, pardon the pun, naturally.”
Dillon rolled his eyes. “That was a bad joke, but I guess I see what you mean.” Solomon checked his watch, and they started walking back to the office.
Dillon spoke a little louder this time, “No, it makes my parents mad and I don’t get to play video games for a week. It totally su–stinks.”
Solomon didn’t address the language Dillon used, that was for another time. The point was stopping the bullying with one last pitch. “What if…you were nicer to that strangely dressed boy? You might learn something surprising. He may like video games too.”
“Really?” Dillon furrowed his brow and looked at him in utter disbelief.
They had reached the office. Solomon said,“Yes, really. Give it a chance, tell me what happens.” Dillon was permitted to go back to class. The principal happened by just a few minutes later, seeming stressed about discipline at the school.
“Do you think you’ve got through to him? If he keeps acting up he’ll have to leave.”
Solomon nodded affirmatively. “I feel pretty good about it and he’s going to tell me how it works if he’s tries being nicer to a child who is different from himself.”
“Thank you, Solomon.”
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 28, 2020, AT 9:00 A.M.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more, here are some links to other stories on this site: