Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sometimes It's OK to Fight Back

I have three boys, ok? They are different from girls. For instance, I found it incredibly amusing when parents of girls came over to visit and a bump emanated from one of the boys’ rooms. They looked at me and asked, “do you want to go check on that noise?” I remember thinking, “what noise?”

Now, I have calmed down considerably and no longer have First Baby Syndrome, where my child would be polite, sharing, kind, use their words, and never, ever instigate any conflict. Yeah, right. By the time my third son was born I had come to the realization that I couldn’t watch their every movement 24 hours a day.

This realization was brought home to me one summer when I had a choice to finish my business in the bathroom or investigate the source of the yelling. I chose the bathroom, and have felt positively liberated ever since.

Now, there are occasions when I actually let my boys figure out for themselves whatever their issue is, especially since Andrew and Luke are close to the same size. I don’t always rush over and mediate the disagreement or urge them to “use their words”. I know, I know, violence isn’t the solution, and I need to teach them conflict resolution skills. But, darn it, there are times in life when you have to sock somebody in the chops. And if you can’t practice a headlock on your brother, who can you, I ask?

So, when a member of the Parent Police rushes over to tattle, um, report an alleged infraction my child has committed against their child, I stay cool. I have no illusions about my children anymore. 90% of the time, they are in the wrong.

But, that leaves the other 10% of the time.

I recently went to an indoor playground near our house with our two younger boys – Andrew (10) and Luke(8). Luke was having a ball roughhousing with two other boys around his size in the bounce house. Of course, being boys, they eventually all went down in a heap, with arms and legs flying in all directions. One boy got up rubbing his shin, another one his back, and another boy his eye. No one was seriously hurt. I had seen the entire episode, (it being one of those rare episodes where I actually was watching my child like a hawk) and it is highly unlikely Luke’s hand connected with the eye. For one thing, Luke was on the bottom of the pile, facing down, and eye boy was at the top of the pile, facing up. I digress.

The boys disperse, and shortly afterwards eye boy and his pal ambush Luke at the bottom of the slide. Luke loved it, “dogpile” being one of his favorite pursuits. I notice the father of one of the boys looking on and say to him, “I don’t mind if you don’t mind” and he replies in his Southern accent with, “well, mah boy got punched in the eye over thar on thet bouncy thang”.

I kept my cool and had Luke play somewhere else for a while. I told him the other boy had hurt his eye and it would be better to play with Andrew for a while. Now I am definitely watching like a hawk. He and Andrew eventually made their way to the bounce house and were having a good time when eye boy came in and tackled Luke. Luke looked at me for his cue how to respond. I said, “Luke, come out. That boy’s daddy doesn’t want him to play rough.” Luke asks, “why not?” I said to him, “He probably doesn’t have any big brothers, who like to wrestle.”

I sensed the barely concealed rage of the father, who had rushed over, realizing his precious angel was in the same vicinity as my little hellion. There are times I really love being a girl. I mean, what could the man do? Pop me one in the kisser? I led my children to another section of the playground, and we proceeded to have a hell of a good time, playing hide and seek.

The other family left soon afterwards, after we rebuffed eye boy’s attempts to join us in our game. And, darned if I wasn’t right – eye boy had an older sister.

Sometimes, it is ok to fight back. But try to remember to use your words.

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