“First you punch him”, he told me, “then you push him to the ground. Once I pushed a guy to the ground, and he pushed me, so we fell on top of each other”.
“Where do you punch”, I asked.
“In this area”, and he made a circle around his face and chest. “Or in this area if you’re very mad”, you can guess where he pointed to.
It is very interesting the way things work with little boys. I always wondered how they can get into a fight and then become best friends. In fact, that’s how K9 met his current best friend. I never knew how to fight when I was a kid, because, you know, we girls are different. We don’t resort to physical violence. We prefer to form cliques and spread gossip, or, if all else fails, scratch and pull each other’s hair. I was never good at cliques or gossip, but I was a mean scratcher. When two girls get into an argument, they become enemies forever, whereas the boys can throw a couple punches in each other’s direction and make up five minutes later. I always envied that about boys as a kid.
Sadly, though, fighting becomes a lost art. Zero-tolerance policies for violence are being enforced in schools. In all likelihood, no one will see you if you attack an innocent kid on the playground, but for the innocent kid, if he tries to hit back, there’ll be consequences. I’ve heard horror stories, one of them involving K9’s best friend, who beat up a school bully, and got in trouble for it. Not sure how K9 gets away with hitting back. He once beat up a school bully too. He was in first grade; the bully (a fourth-grader, by the way) attacked him; and K9 promptly kicked his scrawny bully butt. Somehow, he wasn't punished for that. My guess is, the teachers don’t suspect K9 of being able to hit back. He has this kindly look of a slightly overweight angel. (Disclaimer: knowing K9, I don’t think he ever attacks first).
So, while I’m certainly glad my son is, for whatever reason, exempt, the fact that kids are no longer allowed to stand up for themselves saddens me. Instead, they are told to report the incident to the teacher. And then we wonder why everybody is trying to sue everybody else? Because that’s what we taught them in school, duh!
I understand totally where the schools are coming from. If little Billy gives little Johnny a black eye, then chances are Johnny’s parents will sue the school. Besides, it probably isn't a good idea to let the kids knock each other out to their little hearts’ content. Bottom line, the intentions behind the zero-tolerance policies are good. The problem is that, somehow, they are not working out as intended.
I do not have a solution. Maybe it cannot even be solved on the school’s level. Maybe it’s up to each one of us to train our children accordingly. Personally, we tell our kids, “Don’t ever hit anybody first, but, if somebody attacks you, it is okay to hit back. Even if you’ll get in trouble at school, you won’t get in trouble at home”.
This may not be the best solution to the problem, but it’s better than nothing.