It's hard to believe, but even "The Duke" was razzed and picked on by bullies on the playground. It wasn't easy growing up with the name Marion. "Defending that first name taught me to fight at an early age," John Wayne once remarked.
He earned his nickname when his family moved to California in 1911. His constant companion was the family Airedale, and the local fireman, who watched him pass the firehouse each day, began calling the dog "Big Duke" and the boy "Little Duke." The name stuck. When he showed up at the firehouse one day with a black eye and a split lip, one of the firefighters, an ex-boxer, began teaching Little Duke to defend himself. It wasn't long before the bullying stopped. "I really looked up to those guys. They were heroes in my book," John Wayne remembered.
|Big Duke & Little Duke|
Some people my age and older have a different view of the problem Many of us had that one defining moment back in school when they finally got tired of dealing with a bully, and turned on them. I had this conversation with a few of my old friends. Each had a moment like that, they still remember the bully's name, and remember the look on the bully's face when they finally got fed up and confronted them. They remember it as an defining moment in their life--the moment they stopped being the victim. When they realized the pain of a black eye hurts a lot less than living their life in fear.
And it doesn't just happen to kids--there are grown-up bullies as well. Most of us know one. Most who had that defining moment in youth know how to deal with people like that--those who didn't wind up being pushed around by them even as adults.
Kids learn a lot on the playground--not all of it is pleasant. By removing adversity, are we making our kids stronger, or weaker?
Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014