Bully stories and movies scare me. As a parent, especially a parent of boys, one of my worst fears is that my children will be bullied in school. This fear grew exponentially before my first son (Deep Thinker) was even two! He was so passive that he let other children take his toys, moved out of the way of any child walking in his direction, and other things like this. It worried me a lot.
But as he’s grown, his self-esteem has blossomed. We talk a lot about fairness–what’s fair to him, what’s fair in general, and how sometimes things just aren’t fair and a person has to figure out how to move on. He gets a lot of it. Because he likes things to be structured, he follows the rules of fairness–and as a parent, it is one of my greatest pleasures to see that he expects other people to be fair with him, and he has developed strategies of ensuring this outcome even in unrehearsed (and sometimes intimidating) situations.
SO, today, when I picked him up from school, he pointed to a boy who was still waiting for his mother. He said, “That’s Dennis. He hit me in the face with a backpack today.” I was NOT happy–but still curious about how my son responded.
“Yeah, that was mean. What did you do?” (Technically I should ask my son why Dennis hit him with the backpack. But if you knew Deep Thinker, you’d understand that he doesn’t provoke others. EVER. Except his brother and me.)
Here is the rest of the story in Deep Thinker’s words: “Well, I told him I was very angry but didn’t want to hurt him. Then he started laughing at me and talking like a baby saying ‘oh, are sad that you don’t know kawate? you fink you want to twy to hurt me?'”
“So, then I grabbed his shoulders, you know, where your nerves are. And I grabbed them so hard that I could feel his heart beating. And it was beating really fast because he got nervous! Then I PUSHED him really hard and said ‘Don’t you EVER bother me again.'”
“Then he said ‘okay.’ After that we were standing in line and he was shaking because he was scared of me. But he said it was because he was cold from the wind blowing.”
Deep Thinker proceeded to explain how Dennis always bothers other kids in the class and then acts nice when parents see him. He said Dennis tries to act like a “gangster.” Anyway, I told Deep Thinker that I am pretty sure Dennis got the point, so when he sees him in school, he can say hi and just kind of let the air settle.
Then, Deep Thinker asked, “But what if Dennis thinks I’m being too nice, and he decides to bother me again?”
I told him it sounds like he’ll be able to handle the situation.
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