Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remembered: Knight on a Shining Bicycle

Prompt:As a writing teacher, I often have my students write memoir/nonfiction pieces. In the beginning, most students want to write strictly about themselves. One of the lessons I teach them is that other people help shape who we are through their words to us, their actions, or their lack of action. Your assignment for this week is to write about a memory of yourself WITH someone else.

I can't remember his name, just that he was older than me. Old enough to be a hero in the eyes of a second grader, anyway. He'll always be larger than life in my memory, stuck in the fifth grade. But I will call him Mr. Knight.

There was a bully in my life. A boy in my class had started teasing me, taking things from my lunchbox, and otherwise making my life miserable. I had no defenses at the time, no fortifications for my Self to hunker behind.

I was a victim. Until Mr. Knight rescued me.

It was recess, I remember, and the bully had pushed me down. Encircled, I was lying there in the dirt, crying. There weren't any teachers around to watch us back then, but kids didn't 'tattle', so it wouldn't have mattered.

All of a sudden there was this fifth grader standing between me and my bully. He was yelling at my bully and his entourage. They scattered in the face of his rage. He turned to me, held out his hand and helped me to stand up. Mr. Knight patted me on the shoulder, and he spoke to me.

I don't remember exactly what Mr. Knight said. The gist of it, I believe, was that it was wrong of the bully to hurt me, it would be okay now, and that he would protect me. I had to look up at him, and I remember the sun was right behind his head, because it kept shining in my eyes. I remember that I was awestruck at the idea that someone, anyone, would stand up for someone that they did not know. This was a novel concept, this idea of being protected, just because I couldn't protect myself.

I suddenly had my very own superhero, who would appear whenever I was in danger. My bully did not want to give me up. And there was Mr. Knight, riding to my rescue on his bike, his friends trailing behind him. We moved to Germany soon after that, and I never saw him again. Or maybe I've seen him again, whenever I see my son helping one of his playmates or comforting them when they're crying.

I stopped thinking of myself as a victim, that day, when Mr. Knight rescued me. In fact, I tried to follow his example and protect other kids, especially the ones smaller than me. That did not work as well for me as it did for him, but I kept trying. I am still trying.


  1. I am always in awe when kids display that kind of courage and presence of mind. And he was only 10 or so, right!?

    And then you, at an even younger age, recognized and learned from that - that's really impressive to me, too!

    I loved this story. You did a great job with the prompt, because it does tell us a lot about you without you needing to spell it all out for us. Thank you!


  2. I love how your rescuer helped show you that you didn't have to be a victim anymore. Great story!

  3. What a great kid. And a great story.

    I'm kind of sorry you moved away and lost track of him. I'm the sort who wonders about the man such boys become.

  4. Always nice to have someone in shining armor handy. What a great memory. I agree with above -- I wonder how he turned out...

  5. @CDG and Vinobaby--I often wonder what kind of man he became, too!

  6. I'm with everyone else on this one. I can't help but wonder what kind of man, and even father, he may have become.


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