February 11, 2008

The Boy Child demonstrates an inner toughness

After careful deliberation, we undertook the application process for kindergarten for next year for private school for the Boy Child. My wife and I both thought that he might be better off in a smaller, more caring environment. He is a very gentle soul and we are concerned that he might bruise, emotionally, a little too easily in public school. His sister, by contrast, is knocking the cover off the ball in public school and we have no immediate plans to change her school address. But the Boy Child, him we worry about. Or, at least, I did.

The Boy Child took part in the Cello Master Class this weekend at his music school. He played with his group from 9-10 and the entire cello student body played from 1:30 to 2:30. The teacher during the morning class asked the Boy Child how old he was and he replied: “four and 11/12ths”. So cute. The Boy Child was in the lowest level for the big class. He was adorable, by the way, dressed in his bow tie and blue button down shirt (which I didn’t even bother trying to tuck in), with his blond hair falling over his forehead as he bent over his cello in great concentration. At one point in the big class, held in the small auditorium with all the parents in attendance, the teacher asked if the class knew the French folk song composition and the Boy Child raised his hand. At that point, the boy behind him, a bratty little know it all, shouted at the Boy Child that he did not know the song. The Boy Child did know the song, in his mind, but did not know how to play it, you see. Anyway, the room went silent with everyone turning to look at the two and the Boy Child turned around and replied that he did too know it and the kid yelled back at him again, in a very nasty tone. The Boy Child turned again and exclaimed, heatedly: “You have never been in my class you so don’t know what I know or what I don’t know.” And that was that. The brat resigned the field. I was pleased that he stuck up for himself and did it so well – something I might have thought was beyond him.

We stayed after class for the Master Concert – a pillow concert lasting an hour, with four cellists playing. Afterwards, he ran around and played. And got into a fist fight. That’s right, my gentle little son went toe to toe with an 8 year old and traded blows until a teacher broke it up. The older kid hit the Boy Child first and the Boy Child hit back. The Boy Child came up to me after and was about to start to cry when he saw me and I told him that he better not cry, that I did not want to see him cry, that he had to suck it up and hold it in and not give the older kid, a bully, the satisfaction of seeing him cry. And he did, too. He bit it back and stood up and did not cry. I told him that while I was proud of him, he did not do a very good job of fighting and I was going to teach him how to fight when we got home. He continued, by the way, to make remarks to the other kid until we left. The spirit, you see, was not touched. He was excited to go home, he told me, and learn how to fight.

We got home and we began the lesson. I told him that the problem was that he hit this other kid, who we will call the “bully”, because he was angry and because he wanted the bully to know he was angry. This was wrong. If you are only angry, you use words, you don’t need a fist. If you need to hit someone, you have to do it to hurt and not just because you are angry. So, we spent a half an hour learning how to throw a short jab into the face. A short punch, starting from the shoulder and snapping it into the face with the intention of punching through the target. One of those to the nose will end any fight and eliminate the possibility of the Boy Child ever being picked on again.

The Girl Child participated in the lesson, too, by the way. She wanted to work on her fighting. The bully was lucky, quite lucky, that she did not see him punch her brother because she would have clocked the other kid. That is how she has been raised. The bully’s most regular source of exercise appears to be pushing a bow across the cello strings and pushing around his younger sister. The Girl Child has gotten to be one solid piece of muscle from her riding and if she had hit this kid, he would have collapsed like a cheap paper bag. No question. I am sure from this just from seeing how her wrists and hands have gotten stronger from the riding, not to mention her core. She is one tough cookie. And yes, she certainly can throw a punch.

Anyway, I told the Boy Child that I was so very proud of him and asked him if he knew why. He asked me: “Because I stucked up for myself?” Exactly. I have tried to teach him and his sister to stick up for themselves and each other but when push comes to shove, as it did, only they can make those decisions. I can teach them how to do it better, how to make a fist and throw a solid fight-ending punch, but I am so glad that I don’t have to try to teach them now not to be a victim for some bully.

His application to this private school was waitlisted. We found out on Saturday. I no longer think it makes a difference whether he goes to the very sweet, very supportive, small private school or whether he goes into the local public school. He’s going to be fine wherever he goes. He can stick up for himself, both orally and physically, and he is going to take that self-confidence with him into any situation; he’s earned it himself. He didn’t give up and he didn’t let the bully see him cry. You may not agree with me about the morality of teaching a not quite five year old how to bloody another child’s nose (and you can be sure he has learned that and we will continue to practice how to do it), but I trust you will agree that it is entirely wonderful that he values himself enough not to allow another impose on him, no matter what the size or age or strength difference.

So, yeah, I was proud because he stucked up for himself. He got it exactly right.

Posted by Random Penseur at February 11, 2008 04:19 PM | TrackBack

Oh, well done!!

However, if one must fight, fake a knee to the groin, the when the opponent bends forward to cover, a quick blow to the larnyx should drop 'em with no loss of blood.

; )

Posted by: Christina at February 13, 2008 03:59 PM

You did exactly right. I might add that the idea is to fight until the fight is broken up, otherwise a sneak may try to sucker your kids into letting up.

Bravo to all of you.

Posted by: Ted at February 13, 2008 05:34 PM

Good for the Boy Child! You story nearly brought a tear to my eye - I think I share your pride!

Posted by: Phoenix at February 14, 2008 10:06 AM

Well, thanks everyone. I was sure that my approach to this was going to stir up a huge amount of negative commenting. Nice to see that I am not too far off the mainstream.

Posted by: rp at February 14, 2008 10:41 AM

Nothing wrong with teaching the BC to defend himself which is much different than teaching him to fight.

One other thing...remind me to never, ever make Christina mad.

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