I’ve seen plenty of those bumper stickers that read, “My Child Is An Honor Roll Student At [Insert School Name].” Well guess what? I want my own bumper sticker and it’s going to read, “I Told My Kid to Beat Up Your Kid.”
I was having a conversation the other day with a co-worker (my boss actually) and she was talking about how strong-headed her daughter was and how she could see her being the bully at school. Don’t get political on me here… come on, if you know your kid well enough, you know how they’re going to be in school – the bully, the follower or the geek (I’ll use geek because it sounds better than “the kid that always gets picked on”). She had mentioned that she was talking to her about not being the bully, and not being the kid that beats up the others kids. Seriously, I was laughing at this point. It was hilarious, but simply because I told Max the opposite… I told him to beat kids up if they picked on him.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t tell him to go out swinging. I told him to tell them to stop. I told him to vocalize it, sign it and push your hand forward like a stop sign… STOP! But if all of that doesn’t work, kid, you have my blessing to stop the bullying.
So, in kindergarten when the first kid came to him and decided to pick on him, he did what his father and I told him to do. He started by vocalizing, S-T-O-P! Nothing. He signed it, he put his hand out, but the bully wouldn’t stop. The kid continued to pick on him, call him names, make fun of him, push him, shove him… hurt him. And Max finally fought back. The fight went on, and Max prevailed… but of course, he was sent to the principal’s office. The principal called Max’s father and I, and we showed up at the school to hear what had happened. The principal told us that Max got in a fight, she told us how disappointed she was and that she didn’t know what to do next. Okay, really? I’m confused. You take a kid that has a disability, can’t talk, ends up getting in a fight and you wonder why? You’re disappointed? What the hell lady… HE CAN’T TALK! Sorry, this parent doesn’t play that. I told her about our conditions with Max… that he wouldn’t be punished for sticking up for himself. We told her that he was informed to say stop repeatedly, but if the kid continued, he had our permission to react. The principal’s mouth dropped open. I told her that the school should be looking over these kids. They shouldn’t be left alone on the playground, and if after they tell a bully to back off and end-up sticking up for themselves… they shouldn’t expect their parents to be pissed off by their choices.
Do I need to back pedal here? We never told Max that fighting was okay. We never told Max that fighting would solve all of his life problems. What we did tell Max is to stand up for himself. He will have battles in his life, and it is his father and my job to teach him to be a man, even at such a young age.
Okay, you can hate me now. I’m not saying I’m a perfect parent; I’m just trying to teach my kid to not always be the geek. Just because he’s “expected” to be picked on, doesn’t mean he actually has to be.
So, that was kindergarten, and Max ended up getting in 3 fights that year. In first grade we moved him to another school, which is the same school he’s been in since. Want to guess how many fights he’s been in since the move? Zero. No confrontations, no bullying… nothing. I think there’s a lot more behind this story though – most of all the income difference between the two schools, which terrifies me when he enters middle school and these two schools combine. But I think he’s build a great foundation of friends and I’m crossing my fingers that middle school won’t be as awful as the nightmares I have at night about it.