Published April 24, 2008
After all the normal chatter of homelife settled last night, this little bit of info eked out: One of my sons and a buddy went down to the guidance counselor's office to discuss being bullied by another kid.
Hmph ... They're growing up. Earlier this year, we got to discuss "boy parts" and how they work. So I guess this "bully" stuff was bound to happen at some point.
My kid's tough and aggressive around others he knows, but a more quiet, go-along kid in a group setting. And we've not yet had any "Great Santini" kind of episodes where I've tried to "teach him to be a man."
But it looks likes it starts now. Or does it?
This made my nightly walk a strategizing walk: How do I talk him through this? Do I talk to the school folks? (They didn't call me, which was surprising given they called him down to the office) Do I go to the kid’s house to try to have a parent-to-parent session? Or do I move on, brush it off and tell my kid to toughen up?
"Toughen up" was how it was done years ago in the era of "Aw, just rub a lil' dirt on it – it'll get better."
But I remember my dad going after some older kids who were picking on me and some buddies. He actually grabbed one kid by the shirt, pinned him to the ground and said words I probably shouldn't have heard at that age. I don't think the kid soiled himself on the spot, but he ran away. Within weeks, we were playing in his yard.
My perception is that in decades past, we were less consumed by the problem of “bullying.” From my armchair expertise, we're more aware of things today. We study kids' behaviors at an earlier age. We identify trends. We forecast better as a society the cause-effect of childhood environments.
I'm not even sure it's bullying. By some measures, it's basic jerky kid stuff: it's name-calling and shin-kicking. And it doesn't happen all the time. (Heck, when I was a kid, that was how some friends said hello. It's a guy thing, I guess.)
But this apparently has been on-and-off most of the school year. So I guess if bullying is defined as targeting a kid or kids over an extended period, this fits apparently.
So I walked double the time last night trying to devise the best dad strategy. This morning, I'm still sorting it out.