This past weekend, I was the accompanying parent to one of those birthday parties where the kids play unsupervised while the parents cluster together and talk about important things like the weather, and school, and how delicious the birthday cake looks.
I was with the kids, of course, and I spotted a phenomon I’d never seen before: run-by punching. This one kid was running around and punching other kids. He never stopped, just slowed down enough to deliver a good whack and then continued running. The other kids were shouting in protest and getting upset, but by the time they reacted, the puncher was already too far away for them to respond.
Obviously, this was a moment for parental involvement, but the place was too loud for my shouts to do any good. That meant I would have ended up chasing the little bully, which wasn’t really a viable option. Sure, I could have caught him, but parents take a dim view towards other parents running down their kids.
As I pondered the problem, my oldest solved it for me. Just as the puncher was slowing down to smack someone, my son stepped up behind him, wrapped his arms around him in a bearhug and lifted him. The two boys were about the same size, but that didn’t bother my son. He just lifted and leaned backwards, so the puncher’s feet couldn’t reach the ground.
The boy waved his arms and kicked his feet, and then just sort of slumped. My son put him down, patted him on the shoulder, and ran off to play.
The puncher lost momentum after that, and I went back to playing, happy my son was there to keep things in line.