Taming the Hulk

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,”
Bruce Banner

It’s the line that tended to precede every transformation from the mild mannered Bruce Banner to the monster that was the Incredible Hulk, a monstrous brute that did nothing, but smash and destroy everything in his path. Growing up reading comic books I had never had much interest in the Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner. While I did watch some episodes of the TV series from the 70’s and 80’s the character really wasn’t that interesting to me. He just seemed like a mindless brute who tended to do more harm than good. Now that I’m a bit older and understand myself and people a bit more I realize how important the Hulk is as a character to show a bit of ourselves.

Kindergarten Hulk

I used to teach preschool and kindergarten at an English school in South Korea. I was actually a teacher for close to a decade with over a thousand students come and go through my classrooms. Honestly, I can say that I only remember a handful of them. Most only as faces or personalities and in most cases barely even that.

There is one particular student that I remember at the school. He was never even one of my students, but he was someone that I can still remember vividly (although I can’t recall his name). The main reason why I remember him was because he always reminded me of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. It wasn’t the way he looked as he was a chubby four year old when I first met him. For now we’ll call him Paul as that is the name I usually associate with chubby little boys. Paul was one of the sweetest kids that I knew during my teaching years. Always bright and bubbly at the start of the day with a happy “hello teacher” whenever he saw me. Not the brightest kid in the school, but one of the brightest personality wise.

I’m on a hair trigger here.

However, since Paul was a bit on the chubby side and not the smartest child he tended to get picked on. With his babe like personality usually he didn’t even realize it. For anyone who’s taught children that age you may have noticed how much sharper the girls tend to be. They are generally much quicker in learning things and also just faster mentally at that age than the boys. The boys are more of blunt clubs bashing away looking for a solution while some of the girls can be more of a scalpel.

So the girls in the class tended to pick on poor Paul. They would make little quips and laugh together while Paul was generally oblivious to the fact and took everything with a smile. However as the year went on Paul started to realize that things were a bit off. One day he went full Hulk mode and flew into a rage.

I warned you~

For the adults that didn’t know the students well or had not seen how things had been building up it looked like Paul was to blame. For the girls instead of being the hidden aggressors they became the very visible victims. Unfortunately, this soon became a pattern of behavior. The girls knew that if they poked the bear enough times then they would become the center of attention as victims. Everyone could see that Paul was flying into a rage for no reason.

As things tend to be with relationships once a certain boundary has been passed it is easier and easier to cross it until the point comes where the border doesn’t exist. It can be something as good and sweet like a kiss. The first kiss is harder, but they become easier and easier until kissing becomes a natural action. The same can also apply to trigger points for people. That specific spot that becomes more and more sensitive over time and for those that know it the specific target of attacks whether consciously or subconsciously.

I don’t usually lose my temper, but if I get angry, it’s true – I’m scary.

Eva Mendes

The emergence of the Hulk which had taken months to create the first time became a regular occurrence. I eventually had to sit everyone down and talk them through it. In the long run everyone was to blame. For Paul he did need to focus more on keeping his temper in check and for the girls they needed to stop creating situations and pushing people in order to get attention, because these is a limit to how many times you can poke a bear.

As the years finished up and the children moved up and up in grades they did become friends as children tend to do, but every once in awhile I would still see the Hulk pop up.

The Hulk in All of Us

I didn’t think about those kids in many years. I did run into them about four years ago when I went back to Korea for a visit. They were on their way to class and they had grown quite a bit. Paul still had the chubby cheeks, but he did mature quite a bit and was getting along well with his fellow students. I didn’t spend too much time as we said our quick hellos and goodbyes as they had to get to their classes, but it was nice to see them again and hopefully they had broken out of the pattern of passive-aggressive behavior.

I haven’t really thought about the Hulk until my last relationship. When things were good they were amazing, but when things were bad they were disasters of Biblical proportions. Things were on again and off again, but we both knew and know that there would always be some sort of connection between us. At a certain point though the disasters were mounting up too quickly and I realized that we were entering a death spiral, so I ended things in the hopes that a little bit of distance would help out.

Beware of him that is slow to anger; for when it is long coming, it is the stronger when it comes, and the longer kept. Abused patience turns to fury.

Francis Quarles

Taking a step back helped me realize that there were patterns to our relationship, patterns to our fight. It was a choreographed fight scene each step of it was already laid out in front of us and all we had to do was follow the script. I realized that there were times when she would do something wrong, but instead of taking responsibility for it she would poke and prod until I would become
overwhelmed and react. Nothing violent like the Hulk, but I would do mindless stupid things that I never would normally do and after it was all over I would know that I did something wrong.

Dangit, not again….

In the blink of an eye the positions were switched. I was no longer the victim, but instead the maniac. Looking at it now I realize that there were signs, clues, hints and cues that I should have noticed before. So instead of trying to stop things at the edge of the cliff I decided I would try not to head in that direction in the first place.

After a few months away we did see each other again the other night. It wasn’t for personal reasons, but to discuss some promises that were made in the past. She didn’t live up to hers and could have informed me ahead of time, but didn’t. I flared up again and we had our typical fight. What shocked me was that we met again the next day under somewhat calmer circumstances.

I explained that if she had called or messaged me in some way beforehand that the fight could easily have been avoided. She said that she knew that as well and knew how I would react, but still felt compelled to go in that direction. It gave her ammunition for the next argument and the next fight.

Hulk Smash

Now when I look at Bruce Banner and the Hulk I definitely understand the character a bit more as I think we all have that inside of us. I’m generally a pacifist and really not someone who gets angry. I can usually blow off 99.9% of the things that bother me, but there are certain times that I can’t and I realize that it’s a problem and want to be able to handle 99.99% of things, but I also realize that there are times to let the Hulk out.

With that girl being nice and absorbing 99.9% of things gave her too much leeway to get away with too much. Like the four year old girls in the class I realized that there sometimes you need to stop the momentum before it gets too close to the edge.


Originally posted 2017-02-03 17:25:58.

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