My stomach grew into a knot listening to it. Hatfield's eyes grew big and she became very, very quiet.
This school is in the "best" school district in our area, and the median socio-economic level of the students is quite "high."
I was glad to see the mother and daughter so open and frank in their discussion on this problem. But as this mother pointed out several times, so many parents aren't even aware of it, and teachers are tired of dealing with it.
* * * * * * * *
Yesterday, as I picked up my kids at school, I overheard a conversation between a Mom and her maybe 9ish year old son.
The child was visibly upset. "Remember," the mom said, "If ----- bothers you today again during practice, just walk away again. The teacher will come and help you and take care of the bully. This won't go on forever."
It took everything I had to bite my tongue from saying, "Are you crazy?!? Of course it's gonna go on forever! You got a scared, little kid there and bullies sense that. And you can't count on others to always be there!"
So very often our kids are taught, Mom and Dad will take care of that for you. Or, the teachers are there to make sure you are safe. But the thing is, we Moms and Dads can't be there all the time. And we can't expect our teachers to either. Giving our children a sense that some vague "authority" will be there to protect them or to step in and help them is actually hurting our children.
Both incidents still upset me when I think about it.
* * * * * * * * *
When the Mister and I were first married, I was very vocal about my desire for my children to always remain pacifists and to "walk away" from confrontations.
The Mister was all, "you need to open your eyes, girl." Very patiently and very lovingly, he shared with me story, after story, after story, after story of the times in school when he was picked on, hurt and bullied.
All because he was a skinny, scrawny, smart brown kid.
The Mister grew up being taught to fight back. And so were his cousins. By the time he was in middle school, the actually bullying attempts were growing fewer and farther in between, because everyone knew that he wasn't an 'easy target.' While he was small and scrappy, he'd put up a fight. And even if the bully knew he could beat up the Mister, they also knew that if you picked a fight with him, you were picking a fight with his 8 cousins as well.
* * * * * * * * *
We have always taught our daughter to "fight back" any boy/man for any possible sexual attack. We've always taught her not to take any guff from any boy, and with that training and several years on co-ed soccer teams, Hattie is pretty unflappable for now, but we still work with her on it as she is approaching her teen years.
While it's pretty acceptable for girls to fight within those parameters, I think as a society, sometimes we feel the only "civilized" thing is to teach our sons restraint, to turn the other cheek, to walk away.
I once thought so too. But the Mister's stories stayed with me. And then I had my own perfect, little, brown boy, and I realized that a big difference exists between "bullying" another child and "defending" one's self. And man, I can't stand the thought of him being an "easy target."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Twice now, Atticus has been in situations where he had to defend himself. Both times it involved bigger, older child. One time, Atticus was being choked by a boy underneath our kitchen table (I was in the other room, visiting with the moms.) He couldn't talk and no one could hear them over all the racket in the house. So he bit the child's fingers to get him to stop.
The other time, an older, bigger child was holding Atticus' hands down at his side and pushing him back, so he couldn't play in a game with the kids. No parents were around, and Hatfield's request to this child (who was younger than her) to "stop" were ignored. Atticus eventually managed to free his hands and pushed the child away from him. The child, in turn, gave Atticus a bloody nose.
* * * * * * * * *
In both incidents, the other parents involved were very upset that their children were injured. I can't blame them, because I get very upset too when my children are hurt. And I get very upset when my children are bullied.
Interestingly enough, in both incidents, Atticus was vilified. When you are a parent of a bi-racial child, it's very easy to go to 'race' as the first possible reason. But I don't think that was it, in this case.
After a lot of thought, I think it is because he apologized for his actions. The other children never did. I can't help but think that because he took responsibility and apologized for his actions, the blame shifted away from the aggressor and towards the defender.
Not that this point really adds to anything; I just find it interesting.
* * * * * * * * *
So there you have it, living proof that the Mister was able to successfully get me to switch teams from the "Walk away, my boy," to the "You better believe that my kid's gonna fight back if yours is gonna bully him."
We have this good-hearted little contest, the Mister and I, as to who can get the other to change first. His goal being the aforementioned success, and mine, turning him into a vegetarian.
Don't worry, Mister. I may come in second, but succeed I shall. We will be a meat-scorning, veggie-munching, bully ass kicking bunch. Just you wait and see.