I was walking in to pick my middle son up from a drop off kindergarten science class, toddler on my hip, another child in the class across the hall, I turned the corner and took in the situation. On one side of the class there was a crying child, holding his face and looking embarrassed. On the other side of the room my child, my Enneagram 8 if I’ve ever met one, arms folded across his chest, eyebrows touching in the middle, a teacher squatting down trying to talk to him. I didn’t even wonder what had happened.
The volunteer assistant came up to me, ‘there’s been an incident’. ‘I can see that, let’s go figure it out.’ I put the toddler down near a sensory bin.
His face relaxed a little when he saw me, I like to think he knew I’d have his back. The teacher was asking him what I felt like we’re the wrong questions ‘did you hit him?’ It’s important to me not to undermine a teacher, especially in front of a child so I asked if I could help her sort it out, she looked relieved. I can’t imagine she woke up expecting to deal with a brawl in the k-1 class that day.
‘What happened?’ *It’s important to look for the why not just the what.* ‘Mommy, they sent us to the bathroom’, the teacher interjected that they send the kids in groups of three to the bathroom for safety. ‘Right, so they sent us in there when that big kid over there (gesturing to the snibbling boy in the corner who now looked deeply guilty) starting pushing the little kid.’ Looking at the kids he was pointing to I could see ‘the big kid’ was easily a head and a half taller than my child and easily outweighed the smallest kid by 30 pounds. ‘He pushed him again and again and I told him to stop! I couldn’t go get a teacher and leave the little boy to get hurt. So, I punched him, hard.’
I watched the expressions change on the teacher’s faces. I think up until this moment they thought my child was the one who’s been bullying. The parent of the bigger kid had arrived sometime during this talk. They were asking their son if what he said was true. He cried and said it was. Apparently, something had happened during the class he was upset about and he used the secluded area of the bathroom to get some revenge. Watching the way, they dealt with the situation I started to see why he felt this was a sensible course of action.
I asked my kid to gather his things and collected the toddler and my older son across the hall. We left and went for ice cream.
I am aware I am going to get a slew of hate for this but let’s be honest, the internet makes people too comfortable with dishing out hate through a veil of anonymity and not getting punched in the face for it. My child has full permission to rock your kid’s world if they are bullying them or someone else. I don’t teach solving problems with fists and I believe in alerting an adult if possible. However, sometimes it’s not possible. In that case, if they feel like they or someone is being harmed it’s ok to stand for what’s right. It’s honorable to fight for the underdog. I do not apologize for teaching them to stand up for someone else. This broken world needs more people to stand for the oppressed.
My son is strong and fierce, but he is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He would drop everything and give the same kid he just decked a hug if he felt he needed it. These are the kids who grow up to defend the silenced. These are the kids who say something when they see your daughter being harassed at a college party. These are the kids who step in when your kid gets bullied in a locker room. These are the kids who grow up to walk their co-worker through the dark parking garage late at night.
He is strong-willed, decisive, practical and brave. Parenting him drains the red from my hair and adds lines to my face but I know without a doubt that this child will move mountains for human rights. It is my job as his parent not to stomp out his fire but to teach him to use it for good.