Just as the ‘new kid’ nerves seemed behind me, though, I came into contact with Tyler. Though he was also in my year, up until that point we hadn’t had any interaction with one another.
Seen as the bad boys, the brothers would boost their primary school notoriety by boasting about their various out-of-school activities, which (if they were to be believed) ranged from spraying cars with graffiti and selling drugs to conducting the odd drive-by shooting.
Any adult who walked past whilst these boys were bragging about their exploits would probably have just laughed and dismissed their tales as bravado-laced bullshit, but as a child I was both scared and fascinated.
James (far right) with his two younger brothers. Image supplied.
To me, these guys were serious business and not to be messed with.
On one particular afternoon, with the school bell having just signaled to us that it was time to go home and watch some cartoons before getting stuck into our homework, I had just made my way outside of the classroom and was in the process of getting my school bag on to my back when I felt a tap on my right shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with Tyler.
Maybe he was looking for someone to kick the ball around with before our parents picked us up, I said to myself. Or was he was wanting to know if he could come over for a play date at my house soon?
With a level of cunning and callousness that no child of his eight years of age should ever been able to demonstrate, though, he then leaned in closer, and once he looked around to make sure no one was in earshot, calmly said in a hushed tone, ‘I don’t like you. I am going to kill you. Have a nice night.’
Watch this beautiful kids explain bullying. (Post continues after video.)
Being a small kid, it was normal for us to repeat lines we had heard in the movies or cartoons, so although I was shocked with what he had to say to me, I didn’t really take it all that seriously, dismissing it as some kind of play acting that we all engaged at in time to time, though perhaps not with such threats of violence.
He was probably just trying to impress me, I figured. Even if he did mean it, we eight-year-olds rarely could hold on to a grudge, regardless of how angry we may have seemed. Heck, at our age friendships could be destroyed and then completely rekindled, all within the space of a lunch-hour.
Besides, when I went back to school the next day, Tyler didn’t approach me once. Surely this was not the behaviour of someone who wanted to kill me, right? He was obviously just full of hot air the day before.