“Turning Down the Dare,” Friend, October 2016, 4–5
Ty woke up late and shoved on his glasses. He knelt for a quick prayer and then ran to feed his family’s huge poodle, Fifi. But Fifi had jumped the fence. Again. It took so long to find Fifi, Ty barely had time to feed himself. He grabbed a piece of toast as he ran out the door.
“Bye, Dad,” he shouted.
“Make good choices!” Dad called back, just like every morning.
Good choices. Ty thought about the biggest choice he had to face at school: what to do about Bobby Miller. Bobby was the biggest, meanest kid in the whole third grade.
Ty zipped down the street on his green bike. He’d have to hurry to get to school before Bobby. His legs pumped, the wind rushed into his face, and finally he saw the school up ahead.
Oh no! Bobby was already at the bike rack. Don’t turn around, Bobby! Ty thought. Just keep walking right to your class. But no such luck. Bobby finished locking up his bike just as Ty skidded to a stop in front of him.
“Looks like I beat you again, Ty-Ty,” Bobby said. He kicked Ty’s bike over, just because. Ty landed on the ground in a tangle of arms and legs and bike wheels, and Bobby ran off laughing.
How can I ever stop him from doing that? Ty thought. He got up off the ground and locked up his bike.
The rest of the morning went OK. Ty was just grateful Bobby wasn’t in his class this year.
When the recess bell rang, Ty ran out to play kickball. But as he ran toward his friends in the field, he didn’t see a game going on. As he got closer, he could see why. Bobby had stolen the ball and was running around the field throwing it at people. “Strike!” he yelled as he knocked Emma over. Then he threw the ball and knocked off Bryce’s glasses. Bobby just laughed and held them high over Bryce’s head. “Try to get ’em, shortie. I dare you.”
For a second, Ty hesitated. He definitely didn’t want Bobby to notice him. But Bryce needed help. Ty took a deep breath. He marched over and grabbed the ball where it had rolled. “Give his glasses back, Bobby.” He tried to look fierce.
Bobby just laughed. “Oh, Ty-Ty! I’m so scared.”
“You’re ruining everyone’s recess. Please stop.”
“Whatever, Ty-Ty.” Bobby tossed the glasses and stomped off.
Ty let out a big breath. “OK, everyone! Let’s play some kickball.” He hoped he didn’t see Bobby again today. Fingers crossed, he thought.
But when school got out, there was Bobby at the bike rack again. He grabbed Ty’s bike handle before he could walk away. “I dare you to fight me,” he said.
Ty shook his head and pulled his bike out of Bobby’s grip. The kids around them were all turning to stare.
“You thought you were so tough at recess, but who’s a chicken now?” Bobby taunted.
Someone laughed, and Ty felt his cheeks get warm. After everything that had happened today, maybe it would be OK to take Bobby’s dare and fight him. Somebody needed to teach Bobby a lesson! Besides, what if everyone thought he was a chicken?
Then Ty had another thought. Taking Bobby’s dare wouldn’t make me tough. It would just be a really bad choice.
“Chicken!” Bobby grabbed Ty’s shoulder as he walked away. “Come on and fight me. I double-dare you!”
Ty had already made his choice. He turned around. “You know what, Bobby? I’d rather be a chicken than take your dare.” Bobby just stared while Ty got on his bike and rode off.
And you know what? He didn’t feel like a chicken at all.