Mama Bear reared her ugly, roaring head today.
Hatchling #1 started Kindergarten yesterday in our fair new city. School started here back in August...way back, like the beginning...so he is breaking in to an already established playground hierarchy.
Said progeny is descended from bellicose vikings on my side and germans on his father's-pretty much the same thing. He is very tall. Being a tall five year old, he is also skinny, though not painfully so. His birthday is late June so he barely qualifies for the age cutoff for kindergarten, making him one of the youngest in his class, but he's already reading so it seemed counterproductive to hold him back a year for age equality.
He's a little athlete with a well-developed sense of justice. He's also the youngest member of the youngest class on the school playground.
He came home today with a vicious scratch on the back of one hand. Turns out, a bigger kid grabbed him and was holding his hands (a smaller scratch bedecorates the other) and Bambino wasn't having it so he pulled his hands back to himself. Good for him. He did EXACTLY the right thing. He stood up for himself without hitting back or being a weinie tattletale.
We had a little chat about bullies. You don't have to put up with anyone putting their hands on you if you don't want them to. If they do, you tell them forcefully to stop. You have permission to defend yourself. If you need help, get a teacher but try to resolve it yourself first.
Little man tells me these kids are bigger and step on the littler ones. On their heads, arms, whatever they can stomp. My guy feels guilty for not interfering when they pick on someone else. Wow. I remember that feeling. What a conundrum as a mother. So that boy I married and I had a talk about how to handle this. We concluded the following, in descending level of importance:
1. Our child's physical safety is priority number one.
2. We want to instill (or reinforce, in his case) his right to stick up for himself.
3. We also want him to speak up for others if the situation warrants.
Now. How do we reconcile 2&3 with 1? That boy I married wants me to talk with Little Man's teacher. I don't want to be that mom...not yet. I don't want to mark my child as the kid with the overprotective mother, especially if he can fight his own battles or learn to. He obviously has some sense of self preservation or he would have intervened when others got picked on. I need to help him find the line that when crossed means he needs to go for help.
For tonight, I told him he did the right thing. I told him that when someone else gets picked on he should stand up for them if he thinks he can. And I told him that when I was little, and his dad, too, sometimes we didn't say anything either. Because we had the sense to be scared.
I hope that as he gets older he will find the strength to help someone weaker and the creativity to do it even if he feels outmanned. I did, somehow. I was the bully target for over three long, miserable years and I still never suffered the torture of someone weaker than me. It is a violation, an abomination. I'd rather be hated than live with knowing I should have spoken up, even when I was twelve.
In the meantime I hope my child's mother will refrain from the instinct to find the little $#8#s who are doing this and tell them in hushed tones, below the hearing of rational adults, that they might be bigger than my kid but I am bigger than them. Their mamas might not care if they act this way but I do. I can find them. I can make them sorry if they don't stop.