Bubbleboy and violence

For something like this my boy would be thrown out of school, pic: http://www.tenderbabycare.com

Once a year we go visit Grandma and Grandpa in Europe. Grandpa likes to tell his grandson stories about the olden days when he was a little boy. Most begin with Grandpa being beaten up by a group of older kids and then going out, getting his buddies together and taking revenge in a very direct and non-subtle way. Most end with Grandpa coming home to his mom, all beaten up, cloths torn, and getting a serious beating from her for ruining his outfit.

Are those lovely, educational stories that I embrace whole-heartedly? Nah, not really.   But then, it all happened (more or less) like that, such were the days back then.

So, until junior entered the school system I would sit there and listen and asked my father to not encourage play-ground shuffles with shouts of ” hit him back hard! Grandpa will show you !”

These days I sit first mortified and then freaked-out at such speech. I kick my father frantically under the table at any suggestion that hitting back might ever be the appropriate way of dealing with any situation.

Disclaimer (again): I don’t like violence any more than the next gal. I do believe that conflicts are best solved with words and that smacking somebody in the face rarely solves any problems. However, and here it comes, I also believe that little boys – testosterone-driven little monsters they can be – once in a while need to be able to shuffle a bit, measure their strength and not just hone their ability to debate. That’s what debate club is for later in life.

We had it under control, more or less, until this happened:

My boy, testosterone-driven little monster that he can be, is by and large pretty good. So when the teacher asked me into the classroom one day to discuss something I wasn’t too worried. She proceeded to tell me that he had said the following sentence to a fellow classmate “I am gonna kick you in the face”.

Two reactions, the first was pride, he said it, didn’t do it and he could have. He trains martial arts three times a week and is really good at it; he could probably knock the daylight out of any of his classmates without even thinking about it. Good boy, didn’t do it. Used his words.

Second reaction: doom brought on by the sudden realization that his teacher’s and my reaction to the same incident in all likelihood will not even be close.

True enough, his words, I was informed, hurt his classmate’s feelings. Hmmm, maybe – but what do you prefer hurt feelings or a broken jaw? I sat through the conference looking contrite while planning in my head how to discuss this with my son later. “Honey” I would say “you did well not actually kicking that boy in the face and I am happy about that. But you hurt his feelings by saying those words and that is not a good thing either. So please stop saying things like that to people.” The entire time I would have to concentrate really hard to not either laugh out loud or say words that are even less acceptable, words that start with  b and then have an s somewhere in the middle.

To the teachers credit I have to say that she didn’t make a big deal out of it and never mentioned it again.

A few days later we were brushing teeth in the evening and my son was behaving like a little idiot – something he takes real pleasure in and is also extraordinarily good at. I did let slip something along the lines of “stop behaving like an idiot and brush your dirty teeth.” My son lowered his tooth brush, big, theatrical tears appearing in his eyes instantaneously, clinging to his long lashes, chin quivering “Mom, stop hurting my feelings by saying things like that.” Sob, sob.

I laughed so hard my husband came running to the bathroom to see whether I had gone insane.


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