Parenting is wrought with difficult scenarios that begs for sound advice. The problem, no one really knows what that advice is, so we do the best we can, sometimes toeing the line between right and wrong.
One day, not too long ago, my son came home from school and told me about a scuffle on the play ground. He was playing football during recess when a few kids started trash talking with each other. My son, somehow made his way into the middle of the argument (no surprise there). The next thing he knew, he was being pulled to the ground and kicked. The two boys, who had been fighting each other, turned on him. He didn’t get hurt and it ended as quickly as it started, but I think he was surprised and little rattled. I also couldn’t help shake the feeling that he was a little bit thrilled to be caught up in some drama. I think. It’s hard to tell with First Son, excitement surrounds all his stories.
We talked a lot about what he could have done differently, like staying out of other people’s arguments, in the first place, and walking away, or, finding a new group to play with. But, First Son likes to play football at recess, as do most of the other boys, and well, if he wants to play football, then, he has to deal with all the people involved, even the ones with anger issues. So, my advice wasn’t sufficient.
Unrelenting in his what if scenarios, and sure that it would happen again, I said, “Listen, if that boy grabs you by the shirt again, you tell him, very forcefully, to get off. If he doesn’t let go, grab his shirt.”
“And what if he pulls me down,” First Son asked.
“Then take him down with you,” I said.
This advice led to another barrage of scenarios in which first son envisioned himself being expelled from school for wrestling someone to the ground, which I don’t even believe he is even capable of (and I am happy about), unless of course, the source of anger is Second Son.
First son is a good, compassionate kid. I raised him that way and I want him to stay that way. So, my advice might appear contradictory, but I don’t think so. I told him that he shouldn’t hit anyone, but he shouldn’t let anyone hit him either. It was my gray way of telling him to defend himself. Because just as I don’t think any of my children should ever hurt someone, I don’t think they should be victims, either.
I don’t believe in violence and I don’t condone violence, but like I said, life isn’t always black and white. In reality, sometimes, even in second grade, you can’t always walk away. Maybe, like my son, someone has a hold on you, or maybe, there’s no way to get out of the way. In those instances, I want my son to know that’s it’s ok to stand up for himself. I know my advice might not be politically correct, and some (like my mom) might disagree, but I stand by it.
Cut to yesterday. First son comes home pretty distraught, more distraught than when the first incident occurred. He tells me, at recess, he was attacked by a bunch of girls, held down, pinched, and kicked in the back and privates. He even wrote an account of the events, so he wouldn’t forget any of the details and I could read it. Like I said, he has a flare for the dramatic.
“Did they hurt you?” I asked, envisioning my second grader in tears at the hands of gang of girls.
He said, when they had him on the ground, he was scared and hurt, but thankfully, he was rescued by some classmates, and a Safety (hello, where are the playground aides?). When he went back inside, he told the subsitute what happened. The substitute said, “Sounds like it was pretty rough out there.” And then he told him to go sit down.
Now, here’s a few things you should know. This all started out as a game, where the boys chased the girls and held them “hostage” in the corner. Then, one of the girls punched one of the boys in the stomach, and from there it was decided that the game should switch, the girls should now chase the boys. The boys scattered. The girls didn’t. Instead, they focused their efforts on First Son, who I’m pretty sure, thinking he was playing a fun game and loving the attention, allowed himself to be caught. What transpired after that, though, didn’t end up being so much fun, and if you ask me, turned pretty vicious. Nothing like mob mentality from a bunch of second grade girls.
I don’t think children (or adults) should fight. I don’t think a boy should ever hit a girl, even when hit, but I also don’t think a girl should be able to hit a boy. It’s just not fair and it puts a boy in a very bad position. If a bunch of boys had pinned down a girl and were kicking her, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten a phone call, but a boy gets punched and kicked by girls and well, it’s just a “rough” day?
Obviously, my advice had to change, take them down with you, wasn’t an option, anymore. Instead, my advice was more like, “Run, Forrest, Run!” (minus the movie reference). That’s right, I told him, the next time you see a gang of girls running your way, run towards the aide on the playground, not out into the field by yourself. I taught him about safety in numbers and to make sure you don’t separate from your friends, and please, I said, just stay away from the girls. The boys might have thrown him down, but one kick and it was over. The game went on and football continued, without any more incidents, until just recently, when someone got an accidental kick to the mouth and blood ensued and football was banned from the play ground. The girls, though, may have never let him up had it not been for his friends coming to the rescue. Which makes me wonder, second grade girls, why all the rage?
It’s rough out there, I hope your weekend isn’t!