Charlie was a cheerful, top-achieving child. However, things suddenly changed, and his mother began to worry. After finding a threatening note in her son’s lunchbox, she decided enough was enough.
Alicia married the love of her life, Jake, right after college. They had a child together named Charlie. Charlie was a cheerful straight-As student with a genuine thirst for life.
Alicia had recently lost her job and decided to become a housewife. Jake managed to get a better job to sustain them after Alicia lost hers. However, he struggled to make his way up the corporate ladder to earn a better salary.
As a result of their new living conditions, Alicia and Charlie got to spend much more time together. Alicia unexpectedly settled in well into being a housewife. The transition from career woman to housewife was initially difficult, but she soon learned to appreciate getting to see her son more.
With each passing day, they became closer and would speak about almost everything. She discovered a great deal of things she never knew about her child, including his various interests, like anime and martial arts. Although, because of their financial constraints, Alicia couldn’t sign Charlie up for any martial arts classes.
Charlie would return from school and talk endlessly with his mother about the day as he helped her prepare supper. Their bond was one to be envied and seemed unbreakable. However, Charlie suddenly changed. He would come back from school and head straight to his room. He had become sad and distant, something that grieved Alicia deeply.
“Stay after class, and I will teach you a REAL lesson.”
This was not the Charlie that she knew. She tried to talk to him multiple times, but he always said he was okay or changed the topic entirely. Something was up with her son, and Alicia felt utterly helpless because he just wouldn’t let her in.
One day, as Alicia emptied Charlie’s bag after school, she found a note in his lunch box. The note read, “Stay after class, and I will teach you a REAL lesson.” Alicia was taken aback. She immediately recognized the handwriting.
The handwriting resembled that of Charlie’s new teacher, Miss Nelson. She started working at the school around the same time Charlie started to change, becoming more dejected.
Alicia had no doubt it was Miss Nelson’s handwriting. She remembered it from the last PTA meeting, which was unmistakable; the quirky slanted way Miss Nelson wrote her L’s! Alicia was convinced that Miss Nelson was behind her child’s state of sadness.
Fuming, Alicia immediately drove to Charlie’s school. She barged into Miss Nelson’s class mid-lesson to the gawking eyes of her stunned students.
“Miss Nelson! What is this?” Alicia barked, holding up the note and waving it in the air furiously. A shocked Miss Nelson looked back at Alicia, speechless.
However, while Alicia’s intent to defend her child like a lioness with a cub was admirable, there was a key piece of the puzzle of this story that she had failed to attain.
A few weeks back…
Miss Nelson was conducting a lesson as usual when one of her students, Brad, derailed her attention. Brad was the son of a well-connected, wealthy local business tycoon, and he knew it very well. He threw his weight around, provoking the other children, especially Charlie.
Brad passed a note to Charlie. Charlie read it and was noticeably upset as his eyes began to tear up while Brad looked on with a smug grin. Charlie pulled himself together, trying not to cry, and quickly hid the note in his notebook.
“Miss Nelson, when is the homework due?” a little girl asked Miss Nelson, who was still distracted trying to figure out what was happening between Brad and Charlie.
“Miss Nelson?” the girl asked again. Miss Nelson refocused her attention and proceeded with the class.
After the class, Miss Nelson went through Charlie’s notebook once everyone had left, hoping to find something. But, there was nothing — no note.
The next day, the same thing happened; Charlie received a note, faded from what he read, and quickly hid it under the desk. However, Miss Nelson decided to intervene this time.
“Brad, what is the note you handed over to Charlie?” Miss Nelson sternly asked.
Restraining his sly smile, Brad replied: “I didn’t have any note, ma’am.”
“I saw it, Brad,” Miss Nelson continued.
“I promise, there wasn’t any note. You can ask Charlie yourself, ma’am,” Brad answered cunningly. Miss Nelson approached Charlie’s desk and looked under it, but there was nothing.
“Charlie, where did the note go?” Miss Nelson asked.
“There was no note, Miss Nelson,” Charlie quietly answered, swallowing a kick in his throat.
Miss Nelson was certain that something was going on. She wanted to call Charlie’s mother immediately but realized she had no evidence that her son was being bullied. Furthermore, she knew Charlie would not cooperate with her because he was clearly afraid of Brad.
Miss Nelson decided to take matters into her own hands before things worsened. She needed to make sure Charlie’s mother found one of the notes herself without Charlie finding it first. And since she could not find any one of Brad’s notes, she would plant one herself.
She wrote a note that read, “Stay after class, and I will teach you a real lesson,” and slid it into Charlie’s back pocket. Her hope was Charlie’s mother, Alicia, would find the note when she checked his pants before doing his washing. It was a long shot, but she had to try.
“Jerk! I warned you that if someone learned about it, my father would fire yours immediately.”
Miss Nelson waited for a reaction over the next few days but in vain. She figured that Charlie had probably found the note first. She needed to find a place where Charlie would not notice the note but his mother would. It was almost impossible, but she was finally able to conceive a brilliantly simple plan.
She waited until the end of the day and stuffed another note into Charlie’s lunch container. She knew Charlie wouldn’t look there after lunch, and his mother would wash it in the evening.
The next day, Charlie’s mother barged into the class in the middle of the lesson, yelling, “Miss Nelson! What is this? I found it in my son’s backpack, which is why he hasn’t been himself for almost a month. Care to explain?”
Miss Nelson was both embarrassed and rejoicing at the same time. Her plan had worked, but Alicia’s abrupt attack was a little embarrassing.
She looked at Brad sternly, saying, “I think Brad will tell us about this note.” Brad grimaced nervously, realizing he was exposed.
Brad sat up abruptly and snapped at Charlie, saying, “Jerk! I warned you that if someone learned about it, my father would fire yours immediately.” Charlie’s eyes filled with tears; he couldn’t understand how his mother found the note.
Alicia’s heart instantly sank to her stomach as panic overtook her. She had messed up big time! Brad was the son of her husband’s new boss, and they were in no financial position to lose their only source of income. She still strongly felt the need to defend her child, but then it dawned on her; at what cost?
So, trying to moderate the impossible situation she now found herself in, she turned to Miss Nelson, insisting, “I know this handwriting. It’s yours! You wrote the note!”
Miss Nelson was immediately caught off guard. She didn’t expect Alicia to recognize her handwriting so easily. Her back was against the wall. She had to confess.
“I’m sorry. I had to do it. He wasn’t going to stop bullying Charlie. And Charlie was too scared to tell anyone because he was trying to protect you and your husband, Alicia!”
At that point, Brad began to lose it even more, snarling at Miss Nelson, saying, “You! How dare you! You know who my father is?”
“Brad! Lower your voice! You will not speak to me like tha—” Miss Nelson started before Brad rudely interrupted.
“No! You lower your voice! My dad and the principal have been best friends for years! You’re in for it too! You just wait and see!” Brad yelled before storming out of the classroom.
A few minutes later, the principal, Mr. Collins, rushed into the class and said, “I don’t know what happened here, but Taylor, Brad’s father, called me and said he would be here in 10 minutes. He says he has a serious conversation. So let’s meet in my office.”
Alicia and Miss Nelson were nervous in anticipation of the chaos that would unfold next.
“This is all my fault,” a regretful Charlie said, holding his head in his hands.
“No, it’s not Charlie,” Alicia assured him as she embraced him warmly.
“You were just trying to do the right thing for your family,” Miss Nelson added, grabbing his shoulder gently in comfort.
After 10 minutes, they all sat in the principal’s office. Brad was there with his father, Taylor. Taylor looked angry, and Brad had the same smug grin. Taylor greeted everyone quietly and continued: “Brad told me everything, so I will have to punish someone.” The office was overwhelmed by a palpable tension as he took a long pause.
“And it will be you,” Taylor finally said, turning to his son.
“What? But dad, I—” a shocked Brad started before his father chimed in.
“I am not done! You have done a terrible thing here, Brad. You are clearly in the wrong. Since you enjoy handing out pieces of paper so much, from tomorrow, you will distribute the postcards from my store near the school. For the whole month!”
Brad tried to deny it, but his father shot him a look that stopped him dead in his tracks. Taylor apologized to everyone on his son’s behalf. Everyone was shocked but clearly delighted with Taylor’s decision.
The next day, Taylor brought a new interactive whiteboard to Miss Nelson’s class and gave the children a lecture on the dangers of bullying. He explained that he was bullied as a child, but a sincere conversation with, and support from, his parents helped him.
He encouraged the children to talk to their problems about any problems they may be facing. Brad was embarrassed throughout the lecture, trying his best not to meet his classmates’ lingering glares. After his father’s lecture, Brad apologized to Charlie, Miss Nelson, and all his classmates.
Taylor also invited Charlie and his father to attend judo classes with him and Principal Collins at his expense so that he could learn to protect himself.
Charlie was overwhelmingly excited to finally get a chance to join a martial arts club. Charlie became very passionate about this sport and later won several competitions. Charlie’s dad became close to the boss through these classes, which additionally helped him grow his career.
What can we learn from this story?
Do not bully people. Brad’s bullying of Charlie had immense ramifications not just on Charlie, his teacher, and Charlie’s parents but, in the end, on Brad himself.
Children should speak to their parents about their problems; likewise, parents should create environments that enable them to feel free to do so. Taylor’s lecture to the children is important because some children feel they have no safe haven to express their struggles, be it bullying or anything else. It is, therefore, necessary to try to foster such environments starting in the home as well as outside.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.