A better solution
As we drove back from the beach yesterday, my oldest son started talking about popularity. It’s not that unusual for us to have deep conversations in the car, but usually they’re restricted to shorter car rides. This time, we ended up talking for about an hour, and the topics ranged all over the place.
“I only got bullied a few times at basketball camp,” he said, at one point.
“Bullied?” I asked. “What do you mean?”
“Well, there was this one guy who kept trying to kick me in the um,,.” In the rear view mirror, I could see him looking at his mom. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say.”
“Just say privates,” I said.
“Oh yeah, well… there. He tried to kick me there.”
I launched into my “sometimes it’s okay to smack people” speech. I won’t boor you with it here, but the gist of it is this: there are circumstances where it is okay to start throwing punches. My wife chimed in to say that he would get in trouble, and I pointed out that he wouldn’t get in trouble from us. We would have his back, and do our best to make sure he didn’t get in too much trouble.
Yes, I know. It’s strange to tell your son that it’s okay to fight. I really do think, though, that there are times when a person (regardless of age) has to stand up for him or herself.
Anyway, my wife and I went back and forth, with each of us shading the message to try to help him understand that fighting is the last option, but it is still an option.
“Well,” he said when we were winding down. “I just caught his foot.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yep, and he fell down. He didn’t try it too much after that.”
“Okay,” I said. “That’s better than what we said.”
“Yeah,” my wife said. “It sure is.”
In the rear view mirror, I saw my son nod and look out the window.
Note to self: next time, let your son finish before you start your lecture.