It's an unfortunate fact some people never grow out of their bullying phase. If they see an opportunity to tear someone down, they'll most certainly take advantage of it. Even if that someone is a child.
People on Reddit recall the pettiest thing someone did to them when they were a child. Content has been edited for clarity.
"At 16 years old, I had a job at a gas station after school. Did all the grunt work (sweeping smokes in the parking lot, emptying trash bins, etc.).
I'm taking the trash out one day and a grown-up man in his 40s comes up to me and says something along the lines of, 'I make more money in a week than you do in a whole year.'
All I could think at the time was, 'Well yeah, I sure hope you do I'm in high school.'
It was such a petty thing to say to a kid just trying to make a little money after school."
"One of my uncles was in a years-long fight with my mom. To stir trouble, any time he greeted my sister and me, he would tell my sister how beautiful and wonderful she is.
To me, he would just say, 'Oh, you're here too,' and then promptly ignore me the rest of the night.
I used to adore him up to that point, so this ended up in me being extremely hurt and crying to my mom for hours about how I'm ugly and not special.
He got his petty vengeance on my mother and crushed my self-esteem. Even today, I don't forgive him for it."
"A math teacher handed back our tests in class. They were graded and marked and all that. She was going over some of the questions that most people got wrong (myself included), so I was writing down some notes on my test. This was so I could reference it later and remind myself why I got things wrong and what I was supposed to do.
She ripped my test away from me and started screaming at me that cheating is absolutely not allowed and that I should be ashamed of myself. Confused and in shock, I started choking up and tried to explain that I was just trying to take notes.
One of the most humiliating times of my childhood (around 13 years old), and I still don’t understand why it happened."
"My aunt was unpleasant or weird with everyone but always particularly cold to me. One day when I was about 14, she took me aside and said she'd held a grudge against me because of my name - she had wanted to call her first daughter that name but my parents had had a child first and used it. They had no idea she wanted the name, and aren't the kind of people who would have done it on purpose. She said she'd tried really hard and had just about forgiven me for it.
I just remember being baffled by it and then feeling sorry for her for being that spiteful, to be honest. But it palled later in comparison with all the other crazy horrible things she did to her own family."
"I had a teacher who was obsessed with my handwriting. I'm dyspraxic and until I was about 10, my handwriting looked like that of a six-year-old. In that year of school, we had to earn the right to graduate from writing in pencil to working with a pen by improving our handwriting. She told me to write smaller, so I wrote smaller. She told me to write more even letters, so I wrote more evenly. It took too long because it took real effort to do it so I had to go faster, which made it untidy again. My finger joints also bend backward so it was a real struggle to hold a pencil. My mum got me some special pencil holders for hypermobile fingers to make it less painful, but she took them from me and threw them away.
Now, she told me my writing was too small, so I wrote larger. Rinse and repeat. I was the last in my class to get a pen and only a week before the school year was up. She made it clear that it was because I ran out of time, not because I 'deserved' it.
My handwriting actually improved a lot over the year but I was disqualified because it took too much effort, apparently, so it was clear I wasn't practicing enough at home. Around this time, I was incredibly depressed and stressed for unrelated reasons, and struggling to keep my temper. So in a very uncharacteristic move, I asked what it was she wanted from me because nothing I did was right, in front of the whole class.
She replied, 'Nothing because I know wanting better from you would be a waste of time.'
She was like this the whole year at any opportunity she got. I need to wear dark glasses when looking at the whiteboard, and the projector because it gave me migraines. She tried repeatedly to take them off me until I suggested I bring a copy of the note from my optician that we have her to the headmaster. She refused to let me use left-handed scissors the school provided for each classroom, giving them instead to right-handed kids who just liked that they had different colored handles.
To this day, I am not sure what it was I ever did to make her hate me so much! I was always polite, worked hard, and got good grades, was a bit disorganized, and forgot my homework a few times but that's hardly a reason to behave this way to a child."
"I was in middle school at a friend’s sleepover. Her parents were very strict; she and her siblings got pulled out of public school to go to a Catholic school (were homeschooled in high school), and they scared the heck out of me.
Anyway, it was probably like 11 pm at this sleepover, and her mom hesitantly let us watch the Disney movie Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. I laughed at a part, and even though her parents were awake, they came into the living room to scold me for being too loud. Not long after, I took a drink of water, choked, and started coughing.
They called my parents after 11 pm to come to pick me up because 'I couldn’t behave.' They had no regard for them being asleep and having jobs to get to early in the morning, they wanted me out for laughing and coughing in the span of about 10 minutes.
My parents never let me stay the night at her house again, and are still mad at them for doing that almost 20 years later."
"When I was young, my mom was best friends with one of the neighbors down the street who also had a boy the same age as me. As a result, I played a lot with said boy and was encouraged to be best friends with him. Whenever my mum wasn't around though, his mum was a complete bray to me. She would come out to where we were playing together and shout at me for some minor trivial thing. If we were both doing something bad (only minorly bad, we were not bad kids), she would blame it all on me and never reprimand her son at all.
This was all when I was like 7-10 years old, and so I couldn't process it at all and had no idea how to react and it really got to me. I found out years later she was basically jealous because I was doing much better at school than her son and she wanted to 'take me down a peg.' Ultimately, the son and I ended up going to different secondary schools and drifted apart, which meant that fortunately, I stopped having to interact with her.
Our moms are still good friends and she has always been pleasant to me as an adult (she even did the flowers at my wedding). But even 30 years later, I still keep her at arm's length because of how unfairly she treated me as a child."
"In cub scouts, we were doing the pinewood derby. I worked really hard on my car, (my dad helped, of course). I had already won the first three rounds, and before the final round, one of the dads of the other kids picked up my car to hand it to me.
It 'slipped' out of his hand, and broke the wheels when it hit the floor. I’m convinced it was not an accident, and he was sabotaging my car so his kid would win.
This was over 30 years ago, and I'm still salty about it."
"In middle school, I was in the hallway during class, as I was an office aide and had a free pass to be in the halls for deliveries. I was casually kicking this pen cap that was on the floor on my way back from a delivery. This teacher comes over and berates me for a few minutes about kicking the pen cap, about how disrespectful it was, about how I had no pride in my school or keeping it clean; mostly he just wanted to scream.
I bent down very, very slowly without breaking eye contact, picked up the pen cap, then said, 'I picked it up.'
He flew into an even bigger rage, screaming, telling me I was never going to amount to anything, demanding my hall pass. I showed him my office aide badge and for some reason, that was the final straw.
'You are an office aide, this is not the pride that an office aide should have!' he screamed, emphasizing my title as if I had failed the nation. He took me back to the office, screaming the entire way, and parked me in front of the receptionist, who was my supervisor during office aide hours.
'Tell her what you did!' he said.
'Uh...I kicked a pen cap,' I said.
'I mean the whole thing!' he said, face red, veins popping from his forehead.
'That's the only thing that happened,' I said.
He seemed to realize that now he was in the presence of a fellow adult and couldn't keep screaming as he had been. The tiny fraction of his personality that was capable of self-analysis and shame surged just enough to get himself under control. He muttered some things about my terrible attitude and left. I never had him as a teacher, I never knew what his name was or what he taught.
I only saw him once more when he came into the office at the end of the semester, spotted me, and smugly asked, 'I hope your attitude has improved since the last time I saw you!'
I rolled my eyes and gave an insincere, 'Yep, sure has, thanks for turning my life around.'
He made some more hurtful comments about how I was never going to amount to anything and left. I never found out his name, but I wonder how sad his personal life must have been. How little control must you have in your life, if you take a job in a middle school just so you can power trip on children?"
"When I was graduating from high school, my aunt asked me which of my late grandfather's rings I'd like as a graduation gift, along with a card/a little cash. I told her I really appreciated the offer, but jewelry just isn't my thing and that I felt like it would be wasted on me (I do have other items passed down from him). She said okay no problem and I thought that was that.
Graduation came and went and a couple of weeks later, a few family members are over for dinner. Well, I'm standing talking to another aunt (her sister) and she walks over to us and hands me a little box. At this point I know what it is, and even though I had respectfully declined before, I decide I'm going to open it and give a, 'Wow! Great, thank you!'
I open the ring's box and before I can get a word out the Aunt I had been there talking to absolutely LOSES IT.
'Are you freaking kidding me? You give THAT ring to HIM?!' Yelling at her, yelling at me, making a huge scene. Guess that ring specifically was one she had made known she wanted. I look at my aunt who gave me the ring and, she just couldn't hide the little smile on her face.
So the extreme pettiness was really between my two aunts, and I felt like I was basically set up/used as a tool in the whole situation. Would have felt bad for my other aunt, but to be honest most of her anger was directed towards me. She did apologize days later. Should mention I had a few friends over as well witnessing this. Just super embarrassing for me especially since I had zero interest in the ring."
"My family had all our belongings stolen while at the beach when I was young. Inside that stuff was my favorite cap, my only cap. I remember I loved that hat and wore it every day, everywhere. At that age, that hat held big-time sentimental value.
This woman who was with us at the time started to antagonize me and make fun of me about how upset I was because my parents lost more valuable things like a digital camera. Which as an adult I can understand, but as a kid, trying to deal with this great unjust that not even my parents could make better, was a big deal.
This woman pushed and pushed until I yelled at her to 'Go away, leave me alone!'
Typical out of character stuff for me.
She reacted like a true Karen and made up this whole thing to my mother that I was being rude and disrespectful and was yelling at her and called her names. So my mother punished me.
That was like 20 years ago. No, I'm not holding a grudge."
"I was on the bus in middle school and noticed the vehicle behind the bus was a man on my street. He frequently tried to persuade me into his vehicle or house whenever I rode my bike by, and I just had a bad feeling about it. Neither my parents nor I knew the guy at all. My house wasn't visible from the road and I had a long driveway to walk alone with no neighbors or houses in sight either, so I was afraid to get off. I asked the bus driver to go to the end of the (dead end) street first and turn around before dropping me off, which she had to do anyway to let other kids off, and I told her why.
She laughed at me, told me I was being ridiculous and got the remaining kids on the bus to laugh at me as well. She did as I asked, but I was humiliated for voicing my concern."
"I had a creative writing teacher in high school who for what ever reason hated me. One time, she accused me of plagiarizing a paper I'd written on the grounds that I used words she didn't think a high school girl would know.
Being poor, I always had to handwrite my papers and bring them to school to type because we didn't have a computer. So I showed her my handwritten copy. End of story right? Nope. She just knew I plagiarized it. No proof but she was sticking to her words.
I said, 'This is total nonsense!'
To which she replied, 'It really shows that you don't have a mother.'
I'd had enough, so I got up and left. She followed me out and started attacking the way I looked and dressed. I went to the principal's office who is a friend of my dad's in tears. He'd know me since I was a kid and knew I didn't cry. Her story was that I was swearing at her and she kicked me out of class.
I went home and a friend stopped and told me that the teacher had been talking trash about me during play practice. She'd recorded it. My dad finally got me to tell him what had happened, and I don't think I've ever seen him so mad. Called the principal and set up a meeting with the principal and teacher.
Went to the meeting. The teacher came in denying everything, and my dad just told her to shut up. He played the video for the principal and her. Then told her that they established that she was a liar. Long story slightly longer, I ended up finishing out the year with the principal teaching the class for me.
As a grown-up woman, I just can't imagine letting a teenage girl get under my skin to the point that I'd give a thought about her as soon as she was out of my sight."
"When I was in grade 7, I had a teacher who hated me. He always picked on me because I was a little slower at getting math equations than the rest of the class. Sent me to remedial class after school (it's for special educational needs children) even though I was never special needs, just a very literal thinker who used to question why certain things had to be done in a certain way.
I was once late handing in my homework by 10 minutes because the teacher wasn't there at the time. I was on time, but he was late and he gave me three months of detention. Every lunchtime I had to write lines and if I didn't finish before lunch was over, I didn't eat.
I told my mom obviously and she said to just deal with it pretty much as we were emigrating to the UK later that school year anyway. At least I never had to finish my detention as we left the country."
"I was babysitting neighborhood kids. If there were two kids, I'd babysit alone. My folks had a rule, though, that if there were three or more kids, it was a tandem job and my sister and I would babysit together, and we both had to be paid. We were young teens, 13 and 14 when we were first starting babysitting.
This was in the 1970s -- our rate was $1.00 per hour each, and $1.50 per hour each if they came home after midnight, with a 1-hour minimum after midnight, and they had to take us home by car.
They came home late one night at 12:15 a.m. and were all jolly, seemed to have been to a nice party or something, and the husband said he was ready to drive us home.
We pulled into our driveway, and he paid us $1.00 each per hour for several hours -- but not for the midnight minimum hour. He said it was only 15 minutes, so what's the big deal? If we were going to make a fuss about it, he'd give us another .25 cents each for the 15 minutes at $1.00. We said no, after midnight, we are owed $1.50 each for the whole hour -- we had to come home, go to bed, and go to school in the morning. We were tired, the $1.50 overtime was to encourage parents to come home on time, or when they promised. He refused.
We had been in his car a little longer than average, and my Dad and Mom were hawks, waiting and watching for us. When we didn't get out of his car right away, they came out to get us, and we were saying he owed us another $3.00 and didn't want to pay.
My Dad took $3.00 out of his wallet, gave it to us, and said to the man in the car, 'I just paid my daughters to watch your kids after midnight. I don't think you'll be calling them again. They will not be available for your kids.'
The guy grumbled and actually left without paying up.
A few days later, his wife called in a panic to apologize and make sure they were not 'banned.' We were the most polite, well-mannered teens in the area, and babysitters were in short supply. She offered to give us the $3.00 back.
My mother took that call and said, 'No, I don't think so. My girls had to try and barter $3.00 out of a man, in a car, after midnight. They know their worth and will not be returning for that kind of experience in the future.'"
"Back when I was 17, I moved to NYC with a friend for three months to work as an intern. That was my first time living in a dorm full of strangers in a foreign country where I knew the language haphazardly(just started really using what I learned at school).
The day I got there, I was sitting in the kitchen with my friend, just joking and our usual gimmicks. Some tenants show up and were introduced to me. A couple from Detroit were also there. I noticed the boyfriend being distant but thought nothing of it and there was no interaction between us whatsoever.
A few weeks later, the girlfriend came up to me and told me I need to apologize to her boyfriend. I asked why. She said because I was making fun of him the day I arrived, and he held a grudge since then. I was thinking, _What the heck? I was joking with my friends hours before I even saw you. Your 30-year-old butt got hurt by some girls talking in German and giggling and just automatically made the connection between our laughs and your weight? _
But shy young me went to apologize anyway and was made to listen to him lecturing me about manners."
"I was 17, senior in high school, president of our Model UN and general social studies department hanger-on. I had taken every AP class we offered, went to an after-school civics course, and relevant to the story, I was a caucus leader for our state's mock nominating convention.
As a caucus leader, my role was to convince delegates to support an ideological choice for the candidate. I was NOT a delegate, so when the time came to vote I stayed in the bleachers with the teachers. I had spent four years getting to know these guys except for one new teacher, Mr. K. He told me to go vote with the delegates. I told him no, I'm a caucus leader, I don't even have an assigned state. He threw a hissy fit and eventually the elder teachers rolled their eyes at him and said to just go sit with one of the bigger states.
Later that year at graduation, I was up for the departmental award, recognizing all the work I'd done in the social studies department. The head of the department pulled me aside right before the ceremony to tell me I wasn't getting it because Mr. K. convinced the teachers who didn't know me to vote against me. He ruined my chances of recognition for years of effort because I knew my role better than he did."