As a little kid, Samr "Rocky" Tayeh was the adorable, chubby boy at home; but at school classmates called him "Barney", the big purple dinosaur. Rocky didn't hide in a corner and wait for the bullying to stop, he learned how to use his sharp tongue to shut other kids down, but sometimes he takes it too far. Rocky heads out to a park in Brooklyn to talk with kids about how they survive teasing.
Rocky: Ok- ready? You’re listening to Radio Rookies, an hour of stories made by teenagers! Eeeeh. Cut that out. I’m rookie reporter, Samr Rocky Tayeh and this hour we’re talking about survival. (Stop that kid right there in the black shirt) I’m in a park in Brooklyn and I’m going to interview kids about how they survive teasing.
Girl 1: Well, if someone teases us, we just tease them back.
Girl2: If they’re wearing something I don’t like, I’ll say, ‘Ew, that looks ugly on you, I don’t like it.’
Girl 3: We’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, you have another pimple!’
Rocky: What do you say about her?
Girl 4: I say that she makes stupid faces.
Rocky: And what do you say back to her? Do you make fun of her hair?
Girl 5: No!
Rocky: What’s the matter?
Girl 5: I never heard that before!
NARRATION: When I was little I was the chubby, adorable kid at home. But at school, they called me Barney -- the big, fat Dinosaur. (BARNEY SONG STARTS) So my only choice was to wear a fuzzy, purple suit and get the kids to sing: I love you, you love me.
NARRATION: Hellllllll no! The trick was to strike back with meaner jokes before they could make me feel bad. I annihilated them...and their whole family.
ROCKY: What do you guys think you should do if someone says, ‘Hey, ugly fat bitch,’ something like that?
GIRL 4: I just be like, ‘your mom!’ and then I’d walk away.
ROCKY: That’s what I said, your mom!
ROCKY: When I was little, I didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, when you just called me fatass that hurt my feelings.’
BOY: How did it feel being a fatass in high school?
ROCKY: Stay out of the sun homeboy.
BOY: Stay out of McDonald’s, fatass!
ROCKY: McDonald’s! Where’d you get this kid from, the zoo, go eat a banana somewhere! Okay, homeboy?
NARRATION: Not every kid is an automatic attack dog like me or those kids in the park. Some people choose to take the high road and just ignore.
ROCKY: So what’s your name?
ROCKY: Anna grew up in my neighborhood. I’ve known her since she was a baby.
ROCKY: Ok, how old are you?
ROCKY: So what do you think about teasing?
ANNA: Well a lot of kids tease me about my body, like how they think I’m fat.
ROCKY: Did you tell them their mother looks fat?
ANNA: I just felt like it would be rude and kinda mean.
ROCKY: How about if you just punched them in the face?
ANNA: I’d never punch anyone in the face. But I like ignoring them, though.
ROCKY: Does it work?
ROCKY: Do you have any friends at school?
ANNA: I’m not so sure.
ROCKY: So do you think you’ll ever make fun of somebody back?
ANNA: No. One time, somebody teases them they’ll feel how I feel.
ROCKY: But who do you think is going to be that person that teases them? Shouldn’t it be the person that they’re teasing? You?
ANNA: Well I’m not sure, that’s kind of a hard question.
NARRATION: What a beautiful world Anna’s living in. Back in my middle school, knocking out your enemy with quick insults was the only way to survive the school day.
NARRATION: But now that I’m in college, I think it’s time to find a new strategy. I realized that last year when I was on a trip with some friends. It was somebody’s idea to start the yo-mamma thing. I warned them- I’ve spent my whole life preparing for games like this. And they’re like ‘Ok, let’s see what you got, fatass.’
NARRATION: Next thing you know, I started making fun of one of my friends. And I couldn’t stop myself. I needed to keep everyone laughing at her, so they wouldn’t laugh at me. I have a strong image of my friend’s face that day -- it was like she was looking at a monster. But it was me.
MARIANNE: That was Radio Rookie Rocky Samr Tayeh. Actually he’s far from a Rookie now – he’s done a ton of stories for WNYC and elsewhere. Rocky’s stories have even made their way into New York City schools: teachers use Rookies stories to get their students to think harder about themselves and the world). If you happen to be interested in our lesson plans – email us. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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